Kopp’s incredible coaching career ends as Central Catholic women’s basketball exits PIAA playoffs

Allentown Central CatholicMike Kopp made more than 1,200 outings off the basketball court during his storied coaching career.

But the walk was different on Sunday at Spring-Ford Area High School.

There would be no other game next season for the 46-year-old veteran coach.

The Vikettes’ 49-41 loss to Lansdale Catholic in the second round of PIAA Class 4A ended Kopp’s incredible tenure in charge of Allentown Central Catholic.

“I’m really proud to be the coach of Central Catholic,” Kopp said. “And I made my debut at Notre Dame. It was awesome too. Have the chance to be in two great Catholic schools. To have the support of the whole administration and, of course, of my family as well. It’s just unreal. I can’t believe 46 years have passed so quickly.

The coach announced in February that this season was his last on the sidelines.

Kopp, who became coach of Central Catholic in 1980, led the Vikettes to 21 District 11 titles, 18 conference championships and five state titles. Allentown Central Catholic is the only women’s basketball program to have won four consecutive PIAA championships (2001-2004). The Vikettes won 11 consecutive district titles from 2000 to 2010.

He finished his career with an overall record of 1,045-277 with 42 seasons at Central Catholic and four at Notre Dame. Kopp is only the third coach in Pennsylvania history to reach 1,000 career wins. The longtime coach became the winningest basketball coach in the state with his 802nd career victory in 2010.

“I never thought about wins and losses,” Kopp said. “All I wanted was for our team to be able to compete for championships and that’s it. And if we won, we won. If we haven’t done it, we haven’t done it. We made a big effort. People ask me, ‘How many wins do you have? How many championships do you have? I don’t even have a clue. This has never been my goal since I have been a coach. The basketball game I’ve loved since I was 10. To be able, since I was 10 years old, 60 years old roughly, to play basketball, to coach basketball. Couldn’t have asked for anything more. I never imagined that I could have been in basketball for so long. »

The Vikettes end the season in the playoffs

Going into Sunday’s game, it looked like Kopp might have another game to coach.

The Vikettes opened up an 11-4 lead with 2:50 left in the first quarter when junior forward Madi Szoke scored. Allentown Central Catholic Main Striker Hanna Hoe had four points in the first success.

Lansdale Catholic, third in District 12, rode 10-0 to take a 14-11 lead when rookie Nadia Yemola connected on a 3-pointer with 6:20 left in the second quarter.

Next, the second-year Vikettes goaltender Molly Driscoll took over, scoring all 14 points for Central Catholic in the second quarter. After junior Gabby Casey made one of two free throws for Lansdale Catholic, Driscoll responded with a bucket and then a three-point play in the final minute of the first half to give the Vikettes a 25- 22 at intermission.

Rookie Sanyiah Littlejohn put Lansdale Catholic ahead 28-27 on a field goal with 5:10 left in the third quarter. Hoeing cut the Crusaders’ lead to 30-29 with 3:30 left in the third, but the Vikettes never tied or took the lead the rest of the game.

Hoeing cut Lansdale Catholic’s lead to 43-39 with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter. Casey responded with back-to-back buckets to increase the Crusaders’ lead to eight points with 40 seconds left and seal the victory.

Driscoll led the Vikettes with 16 points.

Hoeing added 10 points for Allentown Central Catholic, which finished the season with a 21-7 record.

“I’m so thankful for the team and everything we’ve overcome as a team,” Hoeing said. “We are a family no matter what. I did everything for this team and they did everything for me. So, I’m really grateful.

Sophomore forward Abbey Kofroth scored eight points and sophomore guard Armani Brickhouse added five for the Vikettes.

Casey, who scored his 1,000th career point in the second quarter, had 25 points for Lansdale Catholic.

Yemola added 11 points for the Crusaders, who improved to 17-7 this season. Lansdale Catholic will face District 3 champion Delone Catholic in the state quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

The Vikettes will say goodbye to senior Hoeing, Julia Roth and Jadeyn Hagadus.

Roth, who tore his ACL and MCL in the district semifinals, cheered on his team from the bench on Sunday.

“It’s really hard to watch from the bench because I love playing with my team so much. I love them so much,” Roth said. “I’m really proud of how hard they worked, how hard they They pushed each other. They gave their all in every game. Fighting to the end. You couldn’t ask for much more. I’m so proud of what they’ve done. They’re going to do well next year. It stinks , I will not be there to play with them.

Look back and forward with Kopp

For Hoeing and Roth, they had the opportunity to be seniors for Kopp’s final season.

“It was really awesome. I would never want any other coach than him to coach me in my basketball career,” Hoeing said. “I’m so thankful for everything he did for this program. “And for helping these girls and building this program for the future. It’s just beyond compare to anyone else. I’m forever grateful.”

“It’s an honor to be captain for your last season,” Roth said. “It meant so much to me. I took it very personally how much he trusted me and believed in me. It’s a lot. It’s hard to see him go just because everyone loves him so much. And he’s such a great guy. Every time you try to say thank you and give him compliments, he turns around and gives you a compliment right away. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He has always been that way. He’s done so much for me in the past four years. I can’t do anything but thank him for giving me so many opportunities. He’s just the best.

Although there will be no further coaching for Kopp, he will certainly be looking after his five grandchildren, Jameson (12), Delaney (10), Addison (4), Reese (15 months) and Cayden ( 4 days) .

“We’re going to have a lot of babysitting to do,” Kopp said. “I already told Delaney, I’m going to knock on your door at 6:30 in the morning. So make sure you’re ready to pull out your driveway and we’ll work on the basketball.

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Josh Folck can be reached at jfolck@lehighvalleylive.com.

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