The level of success the Seton Catholic girls basketball program is having is unprecedented in Arizona.
The Sentinels won their ninth state title overall this past season.
It was their third championship in four seasons and the sixth title this decade.
Now, they will see what the can do on the national stage.
For the second successive year, Seton Catholic accepted an invitation to the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals, where eight boys teams and four girls teams from around the nation converge to play in a tournament.
“It’s a huge honor to be invited,” Sentinels coach Karen Self said. “It’s really nice because I think people noticed we played a tough schedule and had a pretty good season. So, for a third party, someone who doesn’t have an agenda, to look at our program and feel like we deserve to be in this group is pretty good.”
The Sentinels, who lost 49-41 to Ribault of Jacksonville, Florida, at last year’s event, leave for New York on Thursday. There, they will finish preparing for Miami Country Day, which went 29-1 and won the 4A state title in Florida. The game is at 10 am. MST on Friday and will be televised by ESPNU. The other game features No. 2 Hamilton Heights (28-1) of Tennessee and St. Frances (30-0) of Maryland.
The winners advance to the championship game at 7 a.m. MST on Saturday, and the game will be on ESPN2.
“We can’t wait to represent Seton Catholic and Arizona,” junior guard Sarah Barcello said. “They only picked four teams from the whole country and we are one of them. We want to make sure we show them why we belong there.”
Since it is the second time they are more comfortable and hope the past experience leads to a good performance.
“I got some good advice and we are getting on the (East Coast) sleep schedule now to make sure we are fresh,” Self said.
Another factor is they will be accustomed to the court at Christ the King High School, where the games are staged.
“We know the level of competition is going to be very high and that the court is very intimate,” Self said. “The stands are right on top of the floor and they fill the stands. It has a different feel and it took some adjusting last year. We will be ready for that this time around.”
The hope is the team will be 100 percent, something Seton Catholic has struggled with this season, when the first game tips off on Friday.
“This has been the most frustrating year of my career when it comes to injuries,” Self said. “We got through it, but this is a whole different level of play. We are going to have to be at our best.”
The team is led by the Wirth sisters, Jenn and LeeAnne, Liz Holter, Kendall Krick, Barcello and few others.
If all goes well, Seton Catholic will be doing some sightseeing in New York on Sunday before flying back as “national champs.”
“If we come out and play hard and do our best, I think we can do it,” Barcello said. “We’ve done it before so hopefully that will give us an advantage.”
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