A burning desire to succeed led Brenna Babcock, Sarah Holweg and Reese Mensinger on a mission that took them straight into history.
It also led them to Pennsylvania’s highest honors.
Wyoming Area’s Holweg and Berwick’s Mensinger were both voted to the 2017-18 Pennsylvania All-State Girls Basketball Class 4A third team, while Northwest’s Babcock was honored with a third-team selection in Class 2A when the teams were released Tuesday.
“It wasn’t even a thought in my mind going into the season,” Holweg said. “I was very excited and surprised when I found out I made it.”
Nobody should be shocked that all three came out on top.
The hot-shooting Mensinger led Berwick to back-to-back state playoff appearances for the first time in 20 years. The explosive Holweg took Wyoming Area on a school-record 11-game winning streak to start the season. And behind the unstoppable Babcock, Northwest reached its first-ever District 2 championship game and made the PIAA playoff field for the first time.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Babcock, a junior, said of the all-state honor. “I feels really good to achieve that this year. I think it was just giving it my all and helping my team out with wins, scoring points, and on the defensive end.”
It seemed winning was in their nature.
Behind Mensinger, the Bulldogs program experienced a sudden resurgence that took the team to 62 wins over four years and to back-to-back PIAA Class 4A postseason berths.
“Definitely it’s a dream come true,” Mensinger said of her all-state selection, “just to be able to be in a class with all those great players.”
The way the Bulldogs saw it, Mensinger was in a class of her own when it came to attaining team success.
“She was a big part of that,” Berwick coach Bill Phillips said. “Her ability to get the shot off is just unbelievably quick. In addition to that, her range was unbelievable. There were times when we’d take the ball out in front of the opposing bench, she’d take one step and hit a 3-pointer.
“And she’s such a great competitor. There were times we’d be down and she’d get in the center of the huddle and say, `We are not losing this game.’ ”
That will to win took all three all-staters a long way.
Wyoming Area coach Chad Lojewski will remember Holweg as a tremendous shooter with a confidence that carried the Warriors by example.
“She had a little, quiet composure to her,” Lojewski said. “When she needed to get emotional, she did.”
Yet, the better the opponent, the better Holweg seemed to play.
“I love playing under pressure, in bigger games with bigger crowds,” said Holweg, who averaged 17 points, hit 28 3-point field goals and heads to play at Division 2 West Chester as Wyoming Area’s all-time leading scorer with 1,560 points. “I love the atmosphere. I love that coach Chad would put the pressure on me to do something big.”
More often than not, Holweg responded to it.
She scored over 40 points in two District 2 playoff games as a junior and finished her career by scoring a game-high 27 points with seven 3-pointers in the Battle of the Valley Classic.
Meanwhile, Babcock was just looking for something to battle.
Head coach Scott Miner found that out quickly in the preseason upon his return to the Rangers bench.
“Brenna’s just so competitive,” Miner said. “When I first got the job — it was kind of crazy — we were doing some drills in one of the first practices. I didn’t think she was give it all she could, so I said, ‘Brenna, you have to go a little harder.’ She said, ‘Coach, you have to make it a competition for me. I have to win.’ ”
Babcock won over Northwest fans by scoring 418 points this season, topping 1,000 for her career, while averaging 18.5 points per game during the WVC season. She scored 17 of Northwest’s 34 points in a state playoff loss.
Maybe her spirit came from growing up with her twin sister Trista, also a guard on Northwest’s team, along with an older brother.
“It’s always very competitive at our house,” Babcock laughed. “I’m just very competitive about everything. I have to win. I just don’t like to lose.”
Neither does Mensinger.
The King’s College-bound senior finished as the WVC’s leading scorer with 21.8 points, buried 37 3-pointers and shot 85 percent from the foul line while also finishing as Berwick’s leader in assists. She was the only Bulldogs player to average double figures in scoring on a team that won 20 games.
“One of the biggest things that pushed me was to be a great basketball player,” Mensinger said. “If you don’t have the desire to win, you’re not going to be successful in life.”
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski