POTTSVILLE – Marian's Abbey Whildin couldn't wait to play for a District 11 championship.
She played like she couldn't wait to win one.
Saturday afternoon at Martz Hall, Whildin was equally impressive in the roles of stat-sheet stuffer and shutdown defender. Her contributions led Marian to a 47-22 victory over Shenandoah Valley in the Class A title game.
"I was so excited to play in this game," said Whildin. "I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.
"I'm so thankful I got this chance and so grateful to my teammates and coaches. It was a total team effort that got us here and it was a total team effort that allowed us to win."
Although there were major contributors up and down the Fillies' roster, Whildin's numbers stood out.
The 5-7 junior led Marian with game-high totals of 14 points and seven rebounds. She also added three steals, two assists and a blocked shot.
But as good as those numbers were, Whildin most important contribution might have been on defense where she held Abigail Snitzer, Shenandoah's leading scorer, to just five points well below the 15.8 average she brought into the game.
"We've done a nice job during the postseason of holding down the other team's leading scorer," said Marian coach Paul Brutto. "We've had different girls step up and today it was Abbey's turn. She did a great job on Snitzer.
"She didn't give her any room on the perimeter and also battled her hard when she tried to post up underneath."
Whildin said the offensive stats were nice, but her focus was on the other end of the court.
"Coach is always stressing that defense is the number one priority," said Whildin. "Snitzer is a great offensive player so we felt if we could shut her down, we would have a great chance to win.
"I tried to make her work hard for anything she got, and then everyone else on the court did a great job of helping me out anytime I got beat."
Getting beat is something that hasn't happened often to Marian (24-2) this season. Against a Shenandoah team that was coming off a couple of upset victories and playing its best ball of the season, the Fillies showed why.
"Marian is a defensive juggernaut," said Shenandoah coach Chris Conroy. "I don't think we played as well as we can, but they were a huge reason for that.
"They are so fast, so deep, and so well coached … they made it so difficult for us to do anything offensively."
The Blue Devils (15-10) hung close early as they trailed just 13-11 with 6:10 remaining in the second quarter.
But the Fillies closed the half with 14-2 spurt to take control. Gabby Green jump-started the Marian run with a pair of three-pointers and Lindsay Nemeth capped it with a buzzer-beating three that made it 27-13 at halftime.
"I thought the second quarter was the key," said Brutto. "We got off to a nice start, but we struggled offensively late in the first quarter and early in the second and Shenandoah was able to get back in the game.
"But Gabby hit a couple of big threes to help us pull away again and then Lindsay's shot right before the half was a real back-breaker."
The Fillies never left Shenandoah back in the game in the second half, surrendering just two field goals and nine points after intermission.
"The last two games Shenandoah won, they did a nice job of controlling the pace and slowing the games down," said Brutto. "We wanted to try and make sure that didn't happen today.
"We wanted to keep pressing, keep the pace fast, and try to wear them down. I think all the pressure took a toll on them in the second half."
In addition to Whildin's big game, Marian got nine points from Nemeth, seven from Savanna Krusinsky and six apiece from Green and Brenna Karnish. Seven Fillies hit the scoring column in the game and 10 different players had at least one rebound.
"We've had great balance all season," said Brutto. "I think that's a recipe for success on the offensive end.
"On any given night, anybody can step up for us, which is a nice luxury."
Great defense and outstanding offensive balance is a recipe that has been good to the Fillies this season.
It has already produce one championship. Work on another begins Saturday when Marian faces District 4 runner-up Northeast Bradford in the opening round of the PIAA state playoffs.
Demalis 0-0-0-0, Nieddu 1-2-2-4, Dove 0-0-2-0, Florio 0-0-0-0, Teaschenko 0-0-0-0, Jones 0-0-0-0, Hixon 1-0-0-3, Buchman 1-4-4-6, Creasy 1-1-2-4, Snitzer 2-0-0-5, Najera 0-0-0-0, Michalik 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 6-7-10-22.
Green 2-0-0-6, Whildin 5-4-4-14, A. Fannick 0-0-0-0, Whitecavage 1-0-0-3, Sofranko 0-0-0-0, E. Fannick 0-0-0-0, Nemeth 3-0-0-9, Mahon 0-0-0-0, Baranko 0-0-0-0, Nilsson 1-0-0-2, Krusinsky 3-1-4-7, Raabe 0-0-0-0, Karnish 3-0-0-6, Stoyer 0-0-0-0, Holman 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-5-8-47.
Shenandoah 7 6 4 5 - 22
Marian 11 16 12 8 - 47
Three-pointers: Shenandoah – Hixon 1, Creasy 1, Snitzer 1; Marian – Nemeth 3, Green 2, Whitecavage 1.