When the seniors on the Little Flower High School for Girls varsity basketball team met their parents at half court of the school’s gymnasium before the final regular season game Tuesday it was a celebration of their last game playing competitive basketball.
After four years on varsity and leading the team in scoring in her final season, Courtney Weidner will give up hoops for soccer and a degree in criminal justice from Chestnut Hill College this coming fall.
Co-captain Jen Purcell said she is unsure of where she will be attending college but knows her focus will be squarely on a degree in radiology.
“I’ve had a lot of great memories here,” Purcell said. “From my first game starting all the way to tonight it has all been great.”
Due to a 4-15 record, the expectations before the night began were that this would be the last game that seniors would play in their high school careers. But a 65-32 drubbing of visiting Cardinal McDevitt gave the team a place in the Catholic League playoffs and an extension to several basketball careers.
“I felt very emotional. It was our last game as seniors. Then we actually won which made it even better,” Weidner said.
Little Flower will face a series of talented foes in the playoffs, beginning with Archbishop Ryan next Tuesday. The bracket also includes Cardinal O’Hara and Neumann-Goretti, who rank 7th and 24th respectively in Pennsylvania according to https://www.maxpreps.com.
Yet, after the game the challenges that faced the team were nowhere to be found. Amidst the smiling faces and jubilant celebrations was head coach Adam Buchter, who also works as Little Flower’s athletic director and head of maintenance.
Despite the team’s less-than-desirable record, Buchter said he believes they have a different team than the one who took the court earlier in the season.
“Right now we play a team [in the playoffs] that we can compete with,” Buchter said. “[Archbishop Ryan] beat us here a couple weeks ago by 14, but I think we’re a better team now than we were three weeks ago. So hopefully we can get the upper hand on them.”
“Our goal was to better than .500 which we fell a little bit short of, but we got into the playoffs and we still got a chance to win more games,” Buchter said.
The players shared Buchter’s newly found confidence and optimism.
“We had a rough year but I think we all came together,” Weidner said. “And now the playoffs are like a new start. We don’t have to worry about our old record and we can start fresh.”
As the team moves forward into the playoffs there is no telling what success or disappointment may lie ahead. But on senior night, when the school honors its students for what they’ve accomplished, it’s also about the students honoring the one’s who have supported them.
For Weidner, it was realizing the role her parents have played in her success.
“I honestly never really appreciated my parents before for coming to our games,” Weidner said. “But the fact that we got to honor them and thank them for coming, I just realized that they have been here for four years and they’ve been at every sporting event I’ve ever had. It’s great.”