Lexie Price is a loyal Bambie.
Delaney Finn is all about the Ragdolls.
On paper, they should be fierce rivals.
And believe me, they are.
Price is a senior swingman on the St. Hubert High School basketball team. Finn is a four-year starter for the Bambies’ biggest rival, Archbishop Ryan.
On Feb. 6, the two teams will square off in what each team probably considers their biggest game.
It’s always a special game, but this year, for at least two of the girls, it’s everything.
Price and Finn are teammates on the Mid-Atlantic Magic, an AAU team they’ve both been affiliated with since they were in seventh grade.
But their final time playing together on the same court will be in a Catholic League game and instead of being teammates and best friends, they’ll be enemies and opponents.
At least for 32 minutes.
“We’ve been playing against each other since third grade, but I didn’t start playing with her until I was in seventh grade and we played until the end of our junior year,” Price said. “When we’re on the court, we’re not friends. We’ll make sure we’re focused on the game. I mean we’ll joke around, but we both like each other. The teams don’t like each other, but we like each other.”
“A lot of the girls (on Ryan) tell my that I’m crazy for being friends with (a Hubert girl),” Finn said with a laugh. “We do have a really good friendship. They laugh at it, sometimes they’ll make jokes and say we’re weird, but we’re friends. I think we’ll be friends forever.”
And because of that, this isn’t a must-win game, it’s a can’t-lose game.
Last year Ryan bested Hubert on a last-second shot. Once again this year, the two teams are even. This one means everything.
“It would mean a lot especially since we lost on a buzzer beater,” Price said. “We played hard the whole game. They threw up a shot and it went in. I said it was a lucky shot. They all talk about it. They beat us, so they talk.”
If that happens again, the chatter won’t last a year.
It will last a lifetime.
“Lucky shot, that’s debatable,” Finn said. “I’m counting down the days I want to win so badly. I think mostly because of the rivalry. I’d love to hang it over her head because we did win last year, so I’d like to do it again.”
It’s clear that both Finn and Price want to win this game so badly.
But more than that, both girls cherish the friendship they built over the years by being teammates and opponents.
Both girls, who are captains on their teams, said this isn’t a sports friendship, it’s a friendship that will last long after the final jump shot has been taken.
They also greatly respect what the other does on the court.
“I think she’s a great player, she’s a smart player, a really smart player,” Price said of Finn. “A really good shooter and a very good defender. She’s just really good at everything.”
“I think she plays really good defense and she has a really high IQ on the court,” Finn said of Price. “She makes really good passes and she knows where everyone is. The two best things about her game are her defense and how smart she is. She’s a great playmaker and her defense is amazing.”
They know they’re great teammates, and it probably would have been fun to play together. But it never crossed either girls’ mind to transfer or try to talk their buddy into switching schools.
“She’s right around the corner from the school,” Price said. “I’m friends with other girls at Ryan, too, through her. I know how much she loves it there, I would never ask her to come here.”
“She loves Hubert’s so much, and I love Ryan so much, so we could never be teammates in high school,” Finn said. “We never think about that. All we think about is winning because it’s fun to play games with friends.”
Both girls see each other being besties forever, but they also have other big plans for the future.
Perhaps they can work together some day since both are going into the same type of fields.
Price, a Fox Chase native, hopes to study nursing next year. She’s unsure where she’ll go, and doesn’t know about playing hoops.
Finn, a four-year starter, is bound for Arcadia where she will major in physical therapy. Down the line, she might want to work as an athletic trainer so she can stick around sports.
And both girls are proud of the seasons their teams are having. While it hasn’t been a championship season, both squads are hanging tough against some of the best teams in the state.
“It’s going good, we were better before the PCL started, once that started, we started playing some of the good teams, and it’s been hard,” Price said. “It’s fun to play them, it’s great practice for us to play hard against them. Then we play teams we have a chance at beating, we’re prepared.”
“We’ve had three coaches in four years, and things are going so well right now,” Finn said. “We have teachers helping us, and they’re doing a great job. We have good seniors, and we’re trying to set a good example. The team has come a long way. It’s tough in the PCL, but we have.”
While neither team looks bound for the Palestra, they do have a championship to look forward to.
The Ryan-Hubert rivalry.
“It won’t feel good to lose to a friend, we want to win,” Price said. “I want to win that game.”
“I can’t wait to play them,” Finn said. “We have to beat them.”