Paul VI Catholic junior forward Ariana Freeman was pleased to see that her future college, West Virginia, set a school attendance record for women’s basketball Saturday when 13,477 fans turned out to see No. 1 Baylor play the Mountaineers.
WVU entered that game last in the Big 12 in women’s basketball attendance with an average of 1,894.
“I loved it when I heard they had 13,000,” Freeman said. “It was a great feeling. I know [star Baylor center] Brittney Griner had a lot to do with that, but just knowing that the fans came out to support our team was amazing.”
Baylor topped the Mountaineers, 80-49, with Griner collecting 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots, her first triple-double in more than two years.
The 5-foot-11 Freeman committed early to West Virginia, bypassing opportunities at Louisville, Virginia, Michigan and Providence. She said she felt there was a family atmosphere in Morgantown and that she had an easy rapport with the players and coaches there.
Paul VI finished 29-4 and snagged a seventh consecutive state independent school title. But the Panthers, who won their first 23 games, had designs on reaching the WCAC championship for the first time. They lost 55-49 to Good Counsel in the semifinals.
“There’s definitely still a chip on our shoulder,” said Freeman, the only non-senior on the all-WCAC first team. “Winning states is still a big thing for us, but what we really wanted to do was get to the WCAC finals. This year we came up short, but that’s just added motivation for next year.”
Paul VI will return four of its top five scorers next season at a time when the league will be undergoing a talent flush. Fifteen of the 20 players who made first-, second- or third-team all-WCAC were seniors.
The exceptions were Freeman, Holy Cross junior post Rhamat Alhassan, St. John’s sophomore guard Amari Carter, Elizabeth Seton junior guard Camden Musgrave and Good Counsel junior guard-forward Sara Woods.