Bishop Canevin girls hope season ends with PIAA championship
By: Chuck Curti
Thursday, February 7, 2019 | 8:00 PM
With three consecutive WPIAL titles, the Bishop Canevin girls basketball team has accomplished almost everything a program could hope to accomplish.
Especially for seniors like Shamyjha Price, the absence of a PIAA championship trophy in their collection remains a sticking point. The Crusaders, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A by Trib HSSN, hope to rectify that this postseason.
“It’s driven us extremely crazy,” said Price, who will play collegiately at UMass-Lowell. “It has driven us to work harder in games and in practices. I feel like it’s our year to show people we can win.”
The Crusaders have done plenty of that this season. As of Feb. 7, Bishop Canevin was 11-0 in Section 3-2A and 18-2 overall.
In their section, the Crusaders have outscored their opponents by an average of 78-22. The big victories are a double-edged sword, however. They give coach Scott Dibble opportunities to get reserves into games — good prep in case they are needed because of injuries, etc. — but they can lead to disinterest.
“The competition hasn’t been the best within our section, and we get big leads and get complacent and forget to do the little things,” Dibble said. “It’s unacceptable. I want them to keep their edge because if you don’t, someone will sneak up and get you.”
Other than that, the Crusaders seem to be clicking as the postseason dawns. Four players are averaging double figures in scoring: Price (18.9), Diajha Allen (13.0), Emma Theodorsson (12.4) and Gillan Gustine (10.6).
Perhaps more impressive, each of these players is averaging at least three assists, indicative of their willingness to share the ball. Price said that is a product of becoming closer off the floor.
The Crusaders took a pair of road trips — to New York and California — to play in tournaments. It was on those trips, Price said, that the team jelled as friends.
“We spent a lot of time in hotels getting to know each other,” she said. “That was the only thing we needed to work on was the bond. Without that, we couldn’t play right.”
The emergence of other players to complement Price’s star power has helped, as well. Theodorsson, a freshman who has offers from Robert Morris, Youngstown State and Duquesne, has been asked to do a lot in her first year of varsity competition, but, Dibble said, she has responded well.
“I have thrown a lot at her,” Dibble said. “I get the deer-in-the-headlights look once in a while, but we do a lot of different things with her. It’s a challenge, to say the least, to come into our program and pick up things as quickly as she has. She has welcomed the challenge.”
Dibble also praised the efforts of senior guard Gustine, who he said is “shooting the lights out” of late. Similarly, junior Diajha Allen has upped her contributions.
Out of the shadow of older sister, Brionna, a freshman with the Cal (Pa.) women’s team, Allen has blossomed.
“She has matured because she knows the seniors are leaving this year, and she has to step up,” Price said. “She’s a whole different player.”
The Crusaders are hoping for a different ending to their season, one that includes PIAA gold medals. Price and her teammates know it will be a challenge, but she insisted they are ready.
“We have to overcome a lot of adversity because we know everyone is going to try to knock us down,” Price said. “And we have to play as a team throughout the playoffs.
“We work together. No one cares about how many points somebody scores. Working as a team is the biggest thing.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.