UPPER DARBY – As she lay on the court in agony, Bridie McCann had the worst thoughts on her mind.
She wondered how badly her knee was hurt, or if she was able to walk off the ground under her power.
“I was scared,” McCann said after the pandas lost 63-45 to St. Hubert. “I had to take a few breaths.”
A few minutes later, with the help of her coaches and coaching staff, McCann walked off the field. All Saint Hubert’s players came into the game at the time – this was in the middle of the fourth quarter – wishing her well.
One minute before the end of the match, McCann cautiously returned to the Bonner-Prendie bench. The heart and soul of a panda, it will be fine.
In coach Tom Stewart’s office after the game, McCann shrugged off injury, showing toughness and maturity (and perhaps a bit of stubbornness).
“Shall I not play on Thursday?” asked Stewart.
“No, I will,” McCann said.
Stewart smiled. This is the answer he expected to hear from a player with McCann’s drive, talent and character.
“It will depend on how you feel,” Stewart replied.
As soon as McCann left his office, Stewart said the obvious.
“You can’t lose it,” he said. “It was so cool because the team we started, it could have been my JV team.”
Bonner-Prendie went into the year missing five of the top six returning players due to a variety of reasons, including end-of-season injuries. McCann, one of the best all-round players in a loaded Catholic League, was the only one left. All the weight of the load of a small and inexperienced team fell on the shoulders of the First Guard.
McCann is the only one in the starting line-up that includes two sophomores (Riley Donohue and Lila Farmer) and two freshmen (Taylor Egan and Melanie Standen).
While the Pandas were up and down at best and not expected to contend for the league title, McCann was a star. Last week, I gave two 30-point presentations. In Tuesday night’s loss, she scored a game-high 20 points in the first half and scored five 3-point field goals.
“We definitely have a young group this year, so it’s really important that we keep our heads and go into every game aggressively,” she said. “The last few years we’ve always been a strong team and I know we don’t have the same group that we thought would come back. But then again, it’s really important for us to keep giving our best in training and games, coming together. And I see a lot of improvement since the start The year is with all the guys, so I am happy to see them improve and I am happy to be their captain.”
McCann has been a major part of two BP teams that have made great progress in the PIAA Class 4A Championships as their freshman and sophomore. Last year, the pandas did not play in the states, but lost by one point to Archbishop Carol in the Catholic League quarterfinals. She knows what it takes to compete against the best teams in the region, and hopes that her experience will carry over to the lower tier so that they become better players in the future.
“It’s obviously a big role to play, just to be their leader and hopefully teach them something here and there,” McCann said. “That’s kind of all I want to do at this point.”
McCann also doesn’t want to disappoint coach Steu, who was a high school basketball manager for 48 years and racked up more than 400 career victories.
“He was always telling me I had to do a big part,” she said. “I totally accept that and go out there and try my best to do it. He’s always there telling me to hold my head up because he knows what we’re working with as well.”
McCann has not committed to college but intends to play after this year. You are bound to go somewhere and shine.
“There are kids who have Department 1 scholarships that are just as good as her,” Stewart said. “At the moment she’s not playing with a lot of kids I thought she’d play with. What we’ve dealt with, I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’ve contacted 12 schools, but it’s been hard to get the notice, especially since the pandemic and everything. You’ll reach There, though. She’s too good a player to play in college.”
In other Catholic League works:
Archbishop Carol 50, Archbishop Ryan 13 >> Taylor Wilson scored a game-high 12 points during the Patriots’ 23-2 run in the first quarter. Brooke Wilson (three steals), Grace O’Neill and Maggie Grant each scored six points for Carroll (10-3, 4-0).
Cardinal O’Hara 63, Conwell Egan 27 >> Freshman Molly Rouleau scored 16 points to lead the Lions to an easy win. Maggie Duggan finished with 15 points and Annie Wilde scored 12 in the second quarter.