Even though Gonzaga University is the only Catholic college team in NCAA’s “Final Four” in Phoenix, an observant Catholic could still accurately say that there are two Catholic school teams in a “final four” of sorts.
It’s just at the high school level where the competition is far less fierce. The DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals is in New York March 30-April 1 and is more of a friendly showcase of equally matched talent than a game for year-long bragging rights.
Half of the four girls’ teams competing represent Catholic schools. Seton Catholic Preparatory in Chandler is coming off of a Division 4A state championship. St. Frances Academy, an independent high school with African-American and Hispanic roots in Baltimore, is also top-ranked and managed to remain undefeated this season.
DSG selects eight boys’ teams and four girls’ teams for the tournament with all 10 games televised live on ESPN networks. This marks Seton’s second straight invitation.
It’s the icing on a season that not only brought Coach Karen Self another championship trophy, it marks 25 years she has coached girls’ basketball — all at Seton. In addition, Self is one of six coaches to be inducted into the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame on April 30.
(video from April 2016)
“I am incredibly proud of this team, and honored at the chance to compete against the best teams in the country,” said Self. “This is a fantastic ending to a storied career for our seniors.”
Seton’s Lady Sentinels, ranked No. 1 by azcentral sports’ “Arizona’s Best High School Girls Basketball Programs,” is currently ranked No. 15 on USA Today Sports’ “Super 25 Expert Rankings.” The team bounced back on the national list from some midseason injuries to improve to 29-3 as junior guard Sarah Barcello had 26 points in a 61-41 defeat of Phoenix Shadow Mountain in a conference quarterfinal. Last month, Barcello and sisters LeeAnne and Jenn Wirth led the team to a 61-27 victory over Cave Creek Cactus Shadows in the conference final.
Seton held a Pep Rally March 29. It also celebrated other national-bound and national championship teams including the Seton Spiritline, Academic Decathlon and yearbook.