The first meeting between Vincentian Academy and North Catholic this season came down to the wire, usually like these much-anticipated Class A girls basketball showdowns do.
North Catholic had just taken a 64-63 lead with fewer than 10 seconds left. Vincentian coach Ron Moncrief had a timeout remaining and he was prepared to take it -- until he saw who received the inbounds pass.
It was Brenna Wise.
All of a sudden Moncrief put that timeout back in his pocket and watched the sophomore guard work her magic.
She went coast-to-coast and scored on a layup at the buzzer to give Vincentian a 65-64 win. Just like that, Moncrief looked like the wise one for not calling a timeout.
"I was going to call a timeout," Moncrief recalled. "But when I saw she had the ball, I decided not to and I was going to live with the results. It is hard to stop her when she has the ball and she was going full steam ahead. Very few people could do that."
Wise has a vivid recollection of it, too.
"I think my coach had confidence in me to make that play," Wise said. "I wanted to be the person with the ball in my hand. After I made the shot, coach was the first person I saw, he had a big smile on his face."
The heroics against North Catholic are just one example of the non-sophomore like play from Wise. She averaged 23.2 points per game during the regular season, fifth best in the WPIAL and second best in Class A.
She was a major reason why the Royals finished the regular season 21-1 with a Class A Section 2 title and a No. 1 seed in the WPIAL playoffs.
Vincentian was scheduled to face Quigley Catholic in the semifinals on Wednesday. It is the team's second consecutive trip to the WPIAL semifinals after winning a WPIAL title last season.
Wise, a Cranberry resident, started on that team but it was a senior-dominated bunch. Now Wise is the one with the experience.
"She has more of a leadership role on the court," Moncrief said. "She had to get focused on that because now she is the focal point for other teams. Overall, she has improved her game. Sometimes it is easy to forget she is only a sophomore because she is a great player and very mature for her age on and off the court. She plays like a senior."
Even though the overall group is younger, Vincentian is as dominant as ever. They won a majority of their regular-season games in blowout fashion.
In the second meeting against North Catholic the Royals prevailed, 50-33. In the playoffs it blasted West Greene, 59-15, and Winchester Thurston, 76-59. Its only loss was in the regular-season finale to Class AAAA Gateway, 70-48.
The games against North Catholic and teams from bigger classifications brought out the best in Wise.
"She loves playing against the tougher teams," Moncrief said. "She plays hard against everybody but she loves the challenge, and so does the rest of our team."
First Published February 28, 2013 5:00 AM