North Xtra: North Catholic girls run surprised coach

PIAA GIRLS BASKETBALL


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Bill Larkin faced a quandry back in October.

A longtime assistant coach of the North Catholic girls basketball team, Larkin noticed a scheduling conflict between the week of the PIAA basketball semifinals and finals and a proposed business trip for his "day job."

Larkin wanted no part of missing a possible deep PIAA tournament run by the Trojanettes -- and at North Catholic, those happen almost as often as they don't. But Larkin's daughter, Trojanettes coach Molly Rottmann, advised him to go through with the trip to Florida.

"I told him, 'That [a PIAA run] is not even on the radar screen,'" Rottmann recalled the other day.

"When the year started, I thought we might have the talent, but we were missing intangibles people don't see."

What North Catholic was missing in October appeared by March. What the Trojanettes weren't missing at the PIAA championship game this past Saturday, however, was their assistant coach.

"He went down to Florida for two days," Rottmann said with a laugh, "and he flew back in for the [PIAA semifinals Wednesday]."

The Trojanettes (24-7) surprised their own coach with the way they came together.

North Catholic advanced to the WPIAL and PIAA championship games. Even in the wake of a 66-59 defeat to Steelton-Highspire in the PIAA title game Saturday at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center, the team was able to recognize and take pride in that.

"We really matured as the season progressed," Rottmann said. "I just think this was a great group, and it was a really fun ride."

"The whole run we had was great," junior Lauren Wolosick said Saturday at Penn State. "At the beginning of the season, we were just looking for a WPIAL [title]. We really didn't think we would make it this far. Then we made it this far, and just being here, it was just a great time."

That great time was the final official one as a North Catholic player for six seniors: Courtney Wolosik, Lynzi Mueller, Angela Nowacki, Sarah Goetz, Tina Ferrari and Becky Stark.

The former four were starters, and Ferrari was the top option off the bench, as evidenced by the 10 points she had in the PIAA title game. All but Nowacki [a transfer before her junior season] were four-year varsity players, with Mueller and Ferrari having started some as freshmen and Wolosik having come on the strongest as her career progressed.

The decorated North Catholic program has had plenty of highly regarded senior classes. This is one of the ones that will stand out most to Rottmann.

"Tremendous. Every single senior," Rottmann said. "All six of them had a tremendous season and completely elevated their games in the playoffs. We became a different team and we were really working together. I'm proud of every one of them.

"That's the saddest thing about losing, is that those seniors are done. That's harder than the losing part."

Four of the Trojanettes' six seniors are assured of playing college basketball, and the other two could still end up with an opportunity they could take advantage of, Rottmann said.

That's good for them -- not so good for North Catholic, which has most of its rotation gutted due to graduation. Lauren Wolosik, Courtney's sister, will be the only returning starter.

"We have our work cut out for us [next season]," Rottmann said. "One returning starter. Lauren, obviously, is a great returning starter to have. But the rest are all four freshmen and two sophomores -- that's it.

"We turn a whole new page next year. Lauren [5 feet 10] is the tallest person we have, so we need to completely revamp what we do and people have to put in a real good offseson if we want to be even in contention in our section next season."

As coaches are wont to say, a team is made from March to November -- not November to March. So the outlook for North Catholic's 2012-13 season is yet to be determined.

Rottmann knows that as well as anybody after her team pleasantly surprised her this season ... or maybe she doesn't.

What if your father proposes another business trip for the third week of March next season, Molly?

"I feel safe he can go and stay [in Florida]," she answered with a laugh.


Brad Everett of Tri-State Sports & News Service contributed to this report. First Published March 29, 2012 4:00 AM


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