HERSHEY, Pa. -- The players gathered together, posing with a trophy and holding towels bearing their school's name.
Then, the members of the Vincentian girls basketball team started a chant.
"Mission accomplished," they screamed repeatedly, clapping in unison each time after saying the phrase.
Vincentian girls win PIAA Class A final 58-34
Vincentian defeated Old Forge 58-34 to win the PIAA Class A girls final. (Video by Andrew Rush; 3/22/2014)
In the minutes after the Royals' 58-34 victory against Old Forge in the PIAA Class A championship, the players kept thinking back to this moment last year.
It was then that Vincentian lost by 17 points to Tri-Valley, falling short of their season-long goal without much suspense. That pain continued to linger and soon enough, they turned that disappointment into a motto, one they printed on the back of shirts and referenced routinely during practices and games -- unfinished business.
Saturday at the Giant Center, that business quickly and decisively became finished.
"I told the girls before the game started that we came in here with unfinished business, so let's leave here with the mission accomplished," Vincentian coach Ron Moncrief said. "I thought they did a great job of listening to the message."
In the win, junior Brenna Wise led all scorers with 21 points and 11 rebounds. At 6 feet 1, Wise was six inches taller than the biggest players on Old Forge, a mismatch that she and her team regularly took advantage of.
By halftime, Wise had 17 points, one more than the entire Blue Devils (24-4) team.
"It gave me a different perspective on my game on where some of my points would come," Wise said. "Height was definitely an advantage."
It was a disparity her opposition noticed early and often.
"She runs up and down the floor, scores on the inside and outside," Old Forge coach Tom Gatto said. "We just couldn't stop her from running the floor. ... She's the best all-around player we've faced."
The Royals (27-3) became just the fourth WPIAL team since 1978, and the first since 2005, to win a state title at the girls Class A level. The 24-point margin of victory was the largest in a PIAA Class A girls championship game since 1993.
The teams were tied at seven in the first quarter, but over the next eight minutes the Royals scored 20 of the next 23 points to take a commanding 27-10 lead. That spurt gave Vincentian a firm grip on the game, one it never came close to relinquishing, as Old Forge would get no closer than 11 points for the remainder of the contest.
Known as a strong outside shooting team, the Blue Devils made just 26.3 percent of their shots and missed 13 of their 14 3-point attempts.
For Vincentian, it was simply the final piece of business on the path to a dream realized.
"It really hasn't hit me yet," Moncrief said. "I'm just so happy for the girls and our team."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG. First Published March 22, 2014 1:50 PM