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Neumann-Goretti Saints ready to soar, ready to score in Catholic League playoffs

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Unfinished business.

That’s been this season’s motto for the star-studded girls basketball squad at Philadelphia’s Neumann-Goretti High School.

The Saints, ranked No. 1 in the nation, went 29-1 last year, the lone loss coming in the state championship game.

It was, needless to say, a crushing blow.

“That really hurt us,” said senior point guard Ciani Cryor. “We worked so hard.”

This season, the team is more motivated than ever – eager to wash away the bitter taste of defeat with a title banner.

It’s paid off.

Heading into Thursday night’s first-round, Catholic League playoff matchup against St. Hubert’s, the team is again undefeated.

First-year head coach Andrea Peterson isn’t surprised.

“They work hard every day. Regardless if it’s a light practice, full practice, they go hard, and they make each other better every day,” said Peterson.

Players say the team’s humble, close-knit nature has also fueled this season’s success. To them, their fellow Saints are like family.

“Maybe you’re having a bad game or you’re not catching rebounds. They’ll cheer you on. Go Christina. You got it. Sometimes you need that because it’s not every day you have a great game,” said senior forward Christina Aborowa.

Aborowa is one of two Nigerians on this standout team.

Junior center Felicia Aiyeotan is the other.

They’re hard to miss.

Aborowa is 6 foot 4. Aiyeotan is 6 foot 9.

Intimidation? Check.

“Every time we walk in the gym, all eyes are on us because, No. 1 is Neumann-Goretti, but they are twin towers. So every time we walk in, everybody is just looking up,” said senior shooting guard Sianni Martin.

Before coming to the U.S. in 2012, Aiyeotan was a bit self-conscious about her height – but no more.

“Basketball has really changed my life. It made me get out of my shyness cause I was really shy. Basketball has really made me come out of my shell,” said Aiyeotan.

And so, it’s not far fetched to say taking home a state title would be a dream come true.

For her fellow teammates, it’s the only way to feel like they’ve taken care of business this time around.

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