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Cathedral Prep Set to Battle Powerhouse Archbishop Wood for PIAA 5A Title Powered by Campbell Bus Lines

Photo by Chris Rossetti.

HERSHEY, Pa. – They meet again.

Three years after Archbishop Wood beat what was then Villa Maria 44-34 for the PIAA Class 4A title, the two teams meet against at Hershey’s GIANT Center for the Class 5A crown (Saturday, 6 p.m.)

The seniors on Prep were just freshmen at the time, and while Jayden McBride was the only one that played a significant role on that team, they all remember the feeling.

The Ramblers (23-3) had their hearts broken last season when South Fayette’s Maddie Weber hit a shot at the buzzer to knock them out in the quarterfinals.


While devastated, coach Doug Chuzie knew what he had coming back.

“We’re going to be really good next year,” he said simply after the loss.

He was right.

Led by the trio of Addie Biel, Jayden McBride and Lena Walz, the Ramblers have rolled through most of their schedule.

Biel leads the way with 16 points per game, followed by the Georgetown signee McBride (13.9) and the St. Bonaventure pledge Walz (11.5).


Of their 24 wins, 23 half come by double digits, with the only exceptions being a 50-45 win over Arkansas powerhouse Wasilla back on Dec. 27.

Their only losses this season have come to Bolingbrook (Illinois), 63-43, Glen Rose (Texas), 55-30, and Olmsted Falls (Ohio), 56-46 on Jan. 31.

It’s a Prep team that also boasts impressive wins over the likes of Foxborough (Mass.) and Solon (Ohio).

“A lot of times I feel like people think it’s expected,” Chuzie said of his team’s success. “I think the girls sometimes feel like that. To see genuine excitement and pride, that filtered over to me.”

They will be facing an Archbishop Wood (25-5) team that has built a dynasty of sorts. The Vikings win over Prep three years ago has sparked a run of three consecutive state titles.

Since 2010, Wood has played in 11 state championship games, going 8-3.

It’s a team that, despite losing a big senior class to graduation last season, rolled to another Philadelphia Catholic league title.

Wood counters Prep withl multiple Division 1 recruits, led by senior Ava Renninger, a 1,000-point scorer who is headed to Fairleigh Dickinson.

Also in the mix is junior guard Emily Knouse, who has already committed to St. Joe’s, as well as Alexa Windish (Kutztown commit) and Lauren Greer uncommitted.

In Wood’s 53-30 semifinal win over Bethlehem Catholic, Knouse scored a game-high 26 points, while Renninger tallied 14.


The Ramblers haven’t given up more than 36 points in any of their four PIAA playoff wins.

Archbishop Wood has been equally dominant on the defensive end, allowing 43, 32, 35 and 30 points.

“Every game, you go into it, you watch a lot of video but you think this could be the one we don’t come out on top because it’s a very good team on the other end,” Wood coach Mike McDonald told The Reporter. “Our kids just continue to show up and continue to impress. It always starts with our defense and rebounding the basketball, taking care of the basketball and shots will fall eventually if we move the ball and get open looks.”

For Chuzie and his players, they are excited for the opportunity to be back playing for a state title, seeking the program’s first as Prep (Villa won three consecutive state title, with the last coming in 2011).

“It is the ultimate goal,” Chuzie said. “It takes health. It takes luck. You have to play well. It’s not easy to stack those three year after year. When you see a team like Archbishop Wood, who stacks it together for three or four years in a row, that’s something impressive. You don’t take it for granted, ever. You are excited that those three things came together and now you have an opportunity to go and celebrate your season with another excellent team.”

How They Got Here

Cathedral Prep: Beat Trinity Area 53-29, Beat Northern York 61-36, Beat Oakland Catholic, 39-29, Beat McKeesport 35-20

Archbishop Wood: Beat Radnor 55-43, Beat Dallas 66-32, Beat Scranton 48-35, Beat Bethlehem Catholic 53-30


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