Obama Academy girls chasing 3rd straight championship against Allderdice

Friday, February 16, 2024 | 10:18 AM

Obama Academy girls basketball coach Monique McCoy impresses on her players the importance of playing in the City League championship game. The Eagles shouldn’t take anything for granted.

If Obama Academy beats Allderdice at noon Sunday at Duquesne’s UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, the Eagles will have won their seventh City League championship and third in a row over the Dragons.

“It means everything to them to have this experience,” McCoy said. “They are appreciative of the fact that everything the coaching staff and the staff at Obama Academy puts into those girls to help them. Not every team will make it to that platform. They have the opportunity and don’t want them to make a mockery of things you have worked so hard for to get there and not take advantage of opportunity.”

The Eagles (12-8) expect to have a different kind of fight on their hands this season. Obama Academy and Allderdice split the City League regular-season title this season, both finishing with 9-1 records in league play. Last season, the Eagles beat Allderdice, 75-29, in the championship game.

Dragons coach Ellen Guillard said the Dragons (13-9) spent last offseason focusing on avoiding another “50-point” playoff defeat. Many of Allderdice’s players spent the offseason playing on the same AAU team.

But Guillard, who has a degree in psychology, also had the team focus on other activities to avoid burnout.

“My degree is in psychology so I’m cognizant of burnout,” Guillard said. “We wanted to keep them well-rounded. We took time to do yoga, go to Duquesne games and play kickball. We wanted to keep it fun and help them focus on being young and avoiding some of the things they deal with with social media.”

The Eagles are a less experienced team this year than they were last season. But Obama still has plenty of punch.

Junior guard Taylor Phillips leads the team by averaging nearly 19 points per game, while senior guard Gi’Onna Simmons is right behind her. Ahmaya Rogers and Ra’Leja Woods will also play heavily in the rotation for Obama.

“We’re a fairly young team, and building our chemistry was the key,” McCoy said.

Allderdice is led by Bailey White, who leads the team at 19.4 points per game. Freshman Peyton Lynch also averages 15 points.

Noriaya Warren and Jahnaya Lash are two forwards for the Dragons who will also be part of the starting lineup. Allderdice enjoys being on the move.

“We like to run,” Guillard said. “We get the rebound and go.”

Guillard is excited to have another chance to play Obama. After two straight losses in the championship game, she wants her players to be able to enjoy the moment.

“I’m looking forward to not losing by 50 points,” Guillard said. “We had a young team last year so most of our players were on the court and were able to soak up the experience.”

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