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Perfect season for St. Mary Catholic girls basketball

Photo courtesy of Mark Stewart Front Row (left to right): Coach Chris Wharff, Annie Tokodi-Ruth, Coach Elizabeth Tokodi. Back Row (left to right): Eden Ingram, Gabby Wojcik, Kenzley Urban, Saylor Wharff, Julia Tucker, Taylor Perry, Mary Tokodi-Ruth.

Defense was the name of the game for the St. Mary Catholic eighth grade girls basketball team this season.

The Irish imposed their will on opposing teams, surrendering just 16 points per game en route to a perfect 18-0 season and a Washington County championship.

“We concentrated on defense more than offense,” said head coach Chris Wharff. “We scored 37 points per game and only gave up 16.”

St. Mary, which bested Fort Frye in the championship game on Feb. 15, pressed teams and forced lots of turnovers, leading to transition baskets.

“We used a very high pressure defense,” said Wharff, who was assisted by Elizabeth Tokodi. “We had a very nice half-court offense, but our defense was our best offense. The kids learned how to be very patient. We played a very controlled style of basketball, which was a learning curve because they had been so dominant at younger ages. They were very disciplined.”

The team featured seven players on its roster, including eighth-graders Eden Ingram, Julia Tucker, Saylor Wharff, Kenzley Urban, Mary Tokodi-Ruth and Taylor Perry. Gabby Wojcik was the team’s only seventh-grader.

Saylor Wharff, a two guard, was the team’s leading scorer with Tucker close behind. Tokodi-Ruth was the point guard and primary ball-handler. Urban was “a dominant defender in the league,” according to coach Wharff while Ingram started in the post and “improved leaps and bounds” throughout the season. Perry and Wojcik gave the team depth off the bench.

“They were a very skilled team from the standpoint of ball-handling, shooting and playing together,” Wharff said. “They’ve got a pretty bright future.”

Wharff noted the team “played up” as seventh-graders, putting up a 14-4 record for a two-year mark of 32-4.

“There’s a core group that have played together since first and second grade,” the coach said.

Wharff, a broadcaster for WMOA, had to juggle coaching the team with his full-time job, but enjoyed the experience.

“I actually got a lot of support from everybody,” he said. “I maybe missed four games. If we had a game at 5:30 on a Wednesday, I would be able to get to the Marietta College game in time. I got very good at it.”

Jordan Holland can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com.

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