HERSHEY — One by one Friday, in the tradition of PIAA state championship teams, Chrissie Doogan would drape a gold medal around the neck of each of his players.
For each, she had a hug.
For each, she had a smile.
For each, she had pride.
For each, she was grateful.
Then Cardinal O’Hara’s women’s basketball coach came to the last player in line, and that’s when the video board above the Giant Center revealed she had some. just a little more.
“We did it,” she told her daughter, Maggie Doogan. “I love you Maggie.”
The Lions did a lot during the season, through the playoffs and finally into the Class 5A Championship Game, a 42-19 triumph over Chartiers Valley. In the process, they would be the first team in the deep tradition of generations of O’Hara women’s basketball excellence to win both the Catholic League championship and a state championship. And while some of the most glorious Lions teams — including the one Chrissie played on as a senior in 1993 — weren’t yet PIAA members, the 2022 Lions were among the best.
But in a different way to what O’Hara did in that season to remember, there was what Chrissie and Maggie had been through together, a four-year streak of challenges and championships that began long before the trip to Hershey.
“I love O’Hara,” said Maggie, who scored 12 points and had eight rebounds in the championship game. “Every time I figured out what O’Hara was, that’s where I wanted to go.”
It was when?
“It was when I was 5,” she said.
Young Doogan understood what O’Hara was because her mother made sure of it, years before she agreed to return to her alma mater as head coach. She understood that O’Hara had been thriving in women’s basketball for over 50 years and that current players would always have a responsibility to carry on the tradition.
“I was going to summer camp at Carroll when I was 5 or 6,” Maggie said. “And she was like, ‘Do you really want to go to Camp Carroll? You don’t want to come to our camp? So I said, ‘There’s Camp O’Hara? That’s where I want to go. go.
Chrissie laughed at this story.
“In my defense, O’Hara Gymnasium was being renovated at that time,” she said. “So that was our only option for the camps.”
Whether at O’Hara or Carroll, Maggie was well conditioned as a basketball player, and that showed on Friday as the Lions won their second straight state championship.
“I’m super proud of her,” Chrissie said. “She set herself goals and she put a lot of pressure on herself during the year. I found her, not in tears, but sometimes very nervous. I was like, ‘Mags, a state championship or a Catholic League championship isn’t going to define you. From where you started to where you have come is truly remarkable. And I’m just proud of her and all the seniors, and how far they’ve come.
While O’Hara won with relative ease on Friday, the journey was not straightforward. In first year, Maggie did not start, her mother keeping the same rule for each player: playing time would be earned, not inherited. In her first year, Maggie was the Daily Times Player of the Year. In her senior year, she was as much of a legend as any for playing O’Hara.
“It was an amazing race,” said Maggie. “Going into my freshman year, I wasn’t really good. It took me a while to grow into my body and develop. But I wouldn’t have wanted to do it anywhere other than O’Hara. The coaches have been good to me. My teammates have been good to me.
“I’m really lucky to be part of such a great program.”
Technically, she’ll still be part of the O’Hara program, with a few state championship banners hanging in this renovated gymnasium screaming her history. But there was finality in the final quarter of Friday’s game, when Maggie and Chrissie knew it would be the last time they shared the O’Hara bench.
“Crazy,” said Maggie. “It was a snap.”
That’s what it seemed. Occasionally.
“Well, it went a lot faster than that fourth quarter tonight,” Chrissie said. “I kept looking at the clock and saying, ‘Come on, move.’ But yeah. It went quickly.”
Next season, Maggie will play for the University of Richmond, while Chrissie will continue to uphold O’Hara’s winning tradition. Already, she has her eye on a particular talent: Catie Doogan, sixth-grade student, her youngest daughter.
“Tomorrow morning at nine-thirty she has an AAU game,” Chrissie said. “I will be there.”
It will appear early. But, as Chrissie and Maggie Doogan were reminded on Friday, it’s worth the trip.
Contact Jack McCaffery at [email protected]