Hampton notebook: Aquinas Academy girls team misses out on trip to basketball finals

Saturday, March 16, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The Aquinas Academy girls basketball team weathered injuries and illness for much of the season, but the Crusaders fought through it.

“I didn’t think it affected us that much,” coach Chris Lebakken said, “until it did.”

Outscored 21-7 in the third quarter, Aquinas fell to St. Joseph, 65-56, in the WPIAL Class A semifinals, denying the Crusaders their third straight trip to the finals.

“In that third quarter, it was really noticeable that we weren’t fully together, having so many girls out,” Lebakken said. “It’s no excuse.”

The Crusaders (17-8) started the season 14-2 before a rash of setbacks, including an ankle injury that sidelined junior forward Violet Johnson and a flu bug that swept through the team.

Their season ended with a 60-44 loss to District 6 runner-up Williamsburg (25-3) on March 9 at Claysburg-Kimmel in the PIAA Class A first round.

Aquinas graduates starting guard Emily Fisher and starting forward/center Victoria Taylor and reserves Annie Austin and Riley Mahon.

Three starters, Johnson and sophomore guards Ellie Junker and Tess Duer, will return.

“I think the girls are excited for their AAU season,” Lebakken said.

Two-sport star

The most decorated volleyball player in Hampton history is now in the record books for another sport.

Senior Emmy Schrom, a three-time all-state middle hitter and star of the 2023 WPIAL Class 2A champion volleyball team, enjoyed the most successful season ever by a Hampton girls bowler.

Schrom became the first Hampton girl since the bowling program was formed in 2017 to reach the WPIBL championships, earning West Division MVP honors along the way.

Schrom, a Duquesne volleyball recruit, recorded a three-game score of 461 to place 31st out of 59 bowlers at the WPIBL finals Feb. 22 at AMF Mt. Lebanon.

“It was a very cool experience,” Schrom said. “Bowling for me was kind of a side thing. I thought it was really cool to be able to bowl with all these people who do that as their main sport. It was a humbling experience, because I was not even close to the best one there. But I had a good time.”

Schrom’s top-40 finish qualified her for PA regionals on March 8-9, but she had to skip the event to attend a club volleyball tournament in Philadelphia.

Schrom looked like a long shot to make the WPIBL championships at midseason. But she used a late surge to boost her average to 140.96 and barely made the cut (140) to qualify.

Entering the season finale against North Hills, Schrom needed to average about 150 for her three games. She calmly rolled a 171-161-136 for a 468 series and clinched an invite to the WPIBL finals.

“It was pressure-packed, but I tend to do better under pressure, just from playing volleyball,” Schrom said. “I’m prepared for those types of situations.”

Road to Hershey ends

A trio of Hampton wrestlers capped memorable seasons with trips to the PIAA regionals before falling short of qualifying for the state championships in Hershey.

Senior 152-pounder Alan Danner (29-15) and sophomore 133-pounder Dustin Kerr (35-14) took eighth at the PIAA Class 2A Southwest Regionals on March 1-2 at Altoona, and senior Isabella McNutt (15-20), the WPIAL girls 112-pound champion, went 0-2 at the PIAA West Regional and didn’t place.

Hockey ends on high note

The Hampton hockey team skated to a 9-1 victory over Westmont Hilltop on Feb. 19 at Frozen Pond Arena to close out a 2023-24 campaign that included only five wins and a midseason coaching change.

Sophomore forward Eli Schwarzbach, a PIHL Class A All-Star, had three goals and three assists in the victory as the Talbots (5-15) recorded their highest-scoring game of the season.

Sophomore Daniel Leyes, another PIHL All-Star, scored a team-high 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) this season, and senior Sean Sullivan netted a team-best 16 goals for the Talbots, who promoted assistant Ian Cummings to replace second-year coach Buck McKee at midseason.

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