UNIVERSITY PARK - Saturday afternoon was the pinnacle for District 6 girls basketball.
Long a much stronger contender to win PIAA gold than regional boys squads for whatever reason, girls hoops in this part of the state finally achieved what was appeared inevitable since the state tournament regionalization was changed a few years back by putting two teams - Bishop Guilfoyle and Northern Cambria - against each other in the Class A finals.
It was enough to make one wonder how many times that might have happened back in the golden age of the 1990s with the powerhouses like Guilfoyle, Williamsburg and Bishop Carroll, among others, battling it out for D6 supremacy before vying for the PIAA championship.
Although Altoona for many years was the flagship program for central Pennsylvania girls basketball, it's in the smallest classification where the area has been most formidable. Over the last 23 years, District 6 has produced 17 finalist teams and eight champions. That doesn't even take into account District 5's McConnellsburg in 1991.
In that scope, by any definition, this Guilfoyle team has to be considered a dynasty. Since Alli Williams teamed with senior Mary Forr four years ago until the tables turned with Williams the senior and prodigy Halee Adams filling the young understudy role this season, the Lady Marauders have gone 128-6 and won three championships.
The only year Guilfoyle didn't win was in Williams' sophomore year, when they lost in overtime to eventual state champion Marian Catholic.
But Saturday's 49-29 win over Northern Cambria was the icing on the cake for BG. With all the good teams the Lady Marauders had over the years going back to the squads Dave Adams and John Frederick put on the court, this is the first time they've gone through an entire schedule without losing even once.
"It's incredible that it's been done with this group,'' BG coach Mark Moschella said. "So much had to come together.''
Moschella didn't have a deep bench and was relying on three freshmen along with an unproven junior. However, it worked to perfection.
"We believed in each other and never let each other down,'' Lady Marauder senior Kaleigh Floyd said. "We just had confidence that we could do it.''
The inevitable question is how this year's Lady Marauders would have matched up against the BG teams led by Michele Taddei and Elaine Colyer or the Abby Hoy/Jill Tate or Jess Gordon Williamsburg clubs or the Jill Knapic/Natalie Dumm or Sarah Bradley Bishop Carroll squads. Those teams possessed more college-level players. They weren't as dominant as was BG this year, but, from this perspective, there was stronger competition back then.
Unfortunately, we don't have a girls basketball version of Madden 2010 or Strat-o-Matic to help us find the results. It's all a matter of discussion, and, to their credit, this Guilfoyle group has placed themselves into the conversation this year.
Where does it go from here? That's another good question. A dropoff after Williams graduation seems inevitable and teams like Vincentian, Nativity and Tri-Valley return virtually everyone next year. On the other hand, the gap between these Lady Marauders and everyone else was so pronounced - only four games were decided by single figures.
"I'm really going to miss the seniors,'' Lady Marauder junior Kelsey Livoti said, "but I'm ready to take on the leadership role. I know I have really good girls in Halee and Elyssa [Ehredt] coming back next year, and a couple of more. I know I can rely on them. I think we should be good.''
The bar's been raised, though.
"Every team wants to beat us, so we're a target,'' Adams said. "We've got to play our game and keep winning. Hopefully, we'll go far.''
Cmor can be reached at 946-7440 or firstname.lastname@example.org