PHILADELPHIA — The second half wasn’t four minutes old Monday night, Feb. 25, when Renie and Erin Shields got together for a mother-daughter talk.
It wasn’t one of those dramatic heart-to-hearts you see only on the big screen.
No, this was too real. Archbishop Carroll had just given up eight straight points and, for the first time, the lead in their Catholic League championship game with Archbishop Wood Monday night at the Palestra.
Renie, the head coach, called time, stood up and looked at Erin. Joining them were assistants Leanne Ockenden and Nora McGeever.
The theme was composure. And partly because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the Patriots listened.
It took a little longer than most Carroll games, the contest going to overtime. But the result was, let’s just say, so Shields.
The Patriots defeated Wood, 48-42, giving the Shields women a share of five Catholic League championships, including daughters Kerri and Shannon Shields. Yes, a Shields girl has helped cut the nets after Patriots league titles in 2007 (Kerri and Erin), 2009 (Erin, Kerri and Shannon), 2010 (Erin and Shannon), 2012 (Shannon) and now 2019 (Renie and Erin).
Renie Shields was an assistant for four championships, and the head coach in this one. Erin, a 1,000-point scorer for the Patriots, has four titles.
Renie Shields, an all-Big 5 basketball player at Saint Joseph’s University, was full of emotion when she said, “There’s nothing like winning the Philadelphia Catholic League championship.”
With all due respect, there is. Winning the CLC with your family is over the top. The elder Shields, a Drexel Hill resident, was an assistant when all three of her girls led Carroll to the league title in 2009. They celebrated with a trip to Pica’s pizza in Upper Darby.
“Honestly, I think why my mom has been so successful is she keeps saying, ‘It’s one play at a time,’” Erin Shields said. “Do we plan on being in the championship? We plan on winning the next game. And that’s how we got here. My mom is so routine-oriented. That was her message to the girls, that it was just another game. Although it really wasn’t.”
Six minutes after the opening tap, it was Carroll, five free throws and one basket, Wood (yawn) one free throw. The Palestra was just another cold, dimly lit gym at that point.
The game heated up in the final 1:42 of the first frame as the Vikings sandwiched three field goals, including a three-pointer by Kaitlyn Orihel, around an and-one by Carroll’s Erin Sweeney.
The Patriots controlled much of the first half and led, 23-16, at the intermission despite struggling with their outside shooting.
The Viking flurry to begin the second half ended with Orihel converting another and-one for a 24-23 advantage with 4:38 remaining.
“It was like, let’s get them to calm down,” Renie Shields said. “When they scored the first eight points, it was like, ‘alright, let’s get to work now, gang.’ And they weren’t fazed at all.”
Thirty-five seconds later, Orihel, the Vikings’ leading lady, was slapped with her fourth personal foul, punching her ticket to the bench. She didn’t return until the final frame and fouled out in overtime.
The Vikings slowed the tempo, the Patriots made some mistakes and when the quarter was all said and done, Carroll led by just a three-pointer entering the fourth.
The Patriots dodged a bullet in that quarter when the Vikings rebounded a missed one-and-one, only to turn the ball over.
After Lindsay Tretter opened the extra session with a three-pointer for Wood, Sweeney matched it and freshman Grace O’Neill followed with what proved to be the winning bucket.
When the game ended, Renie embraced Erin, and then the others. Their chemistry is so special there’s never mother-daughter quarreling.
“Not at all,” said senior guard Harlem Jennings, who contributed several unsung yet critical plays. “They work so well together. I mean, it’s great to watch their chemistry. They always know what to tell us to do. And whatever they tell us, we do, and it works.”
Both Renie and Erin Shields spoke of the genuine unity among the Carroll coaches and players. They believe their coaching staff is tops.
There is no basketball relationship more special to Erin than when she coaches with her mother.
“To do that with my mom has just been, I feel so lucky and blessed,” Erin Shields said. “We learn something new every day. To win the championship with my mom has been incredible. We haven’t been here in a while. These girls really deserved it. We haven’t been here in five, six, seven years. So, we kind of wanted to get back to how it was when we were here.”
The Shields are there again. If you run into them at Pica’s, you’ll know how special that is.
Contact Bob Grotz at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @BobGrotz.