St. Gabriel’s comes together to win Diocese of Pittsburgh girls hoops crown

Sunday, April 24, 2022 | 9:01 AM

St. Gabriel’s girls CYO basketball team peaked at the perfect time.

The Gators advanced to the Diocese of Pittsburgh playoffs as the No. 1 seed then rolled to the league championship.

St. Gabriel’s defeated St. Bede’s, 61-39, in the semifinal round before cruising past Our Lady of Hope, 60-27, in the championship game Feb. 27 at Bishop Canevin.

St. Elizabeth and Our Lady of Mount Carmel also participated in the tournament.

The Gators were section champions this year and ended up 10-3 overall.

The team consisted of three seniors, forward Anna Wiatrowski, point guard Bella Marabito and guard Leyna Laurent; three juniors, guard Abby Hutchison, point guard Brooklyn Williams and forward Lauren Murphy; and sophomore forward Alexa Meyer. All seven girls hail from Baldwin.

Ashley and Alyssa Shanahan share the coaching duties for the St. Gabriel girls CYO team.

“CYO was completely canceled last year during covid, so we missed a season and only had two returning players from our previous winning team,” Ashley said. “We had high hopes as we usually do but ran into a few obstacles during the season, so we were hoping for the best when it came time to playoffs. We were excited to finish the season as the first seed but knew we had to bring our A game for playoffs.”

“Our team really came together to work together, communicate and play their hearts out to pull off a back-to-back championship win. We can’t wait to see what next year brings.”

Two years ago, the Gators defeated St. Bernard’s in the Diocese of Pittsburgh championship game and finished with a 15-2 record.

“The team did really well,” Ashley said. “We were really impressed to see a group of girls from different schools work so well together.

“We weren’t sure what to expect having so many new players, but everyone was determined from the beginning to play hard and do their best.”

The 2020 championship team was made up mainly of Baldwin students, including Marabito, Abby Joyce, Drew Martin, Lexie Kennard and Emily Meador in the backcourt; Nicole Luffy, a guard/forward; and Wiatrowski, Ashley Wilson and Nina Dongilli in the frontcourt.

Erin LaQuatra (Bishop Canevin), Italia Bernardi (Seton LaSalle) and Josie Richardson (Oakland Catholic) rounded out the squad.

Kennard, Luffy and Wilson were the only seniors on the team.

“Every girl contributed,” Ashley said. “It was a tough start for us in the diocesan championship game, but everyone stepped up, especially forward Nina Dongilli, who accounted for a number of our points and took over as point guard for a large portion of the game.”

Kelsey Heenan served as an assistant coach for the Gators.

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