MARPLE — Mia Farmer lives in Lansdowne, which is Bonner-Prendergast country.
"It's literally within walking distance," the Cardinal O'Hara senior said.
Farmer's parents wanted her to attend a Catholic high school. So, Archbishop Prendergast (as it was known then) was the most logical choice, right?
"Well, it really came down to either (Archbishop) Carroll or O'Hara," Farmer said. "My mom wanted me to stay in a Catholic school for all four years. I'm thinking, Prendie was an all girls school and they weren't really known for basketball at the time. All I would hear about is O'Hara and Carroll and how great they were in basketball."
Farmer soaked in the atmosphere of the Carroll-O'Hara rivalry from afar.
"I remember going to a game when I was in seventh, eighth grade. It was here (at O'Hara), at the old raggedy gym, and the crowd was crazy. Carroll won the game, but I loved the way O'Hara played, so I knew it's where I wanted to be. And it was closer to home."
Farmer attended O'Hara and played for longtime coach Linus McGinty, and the relationship would prove to be fruitful.
Farmer started to come into her own as a junior. She was a key member of the O'Hara team that won the Catholic League championship and came within one win of playing for a state title. She attracted the attention of several Division I programs.
As her senior year approached, Farmer had to raise her game to a greater level. Having committed to George Washington, Farmer knew this was her year to shine. While the Lions couldn't repeat last year's overall success, Farmer did everything she could to steer a relatively young and inexperienced team in the right direction. On some days, her awe-inspiring talents were enough to lift the team to victory. On other days, the growing pains were evident.
Nevertheless, Farmer had made her mark on a team that overachieved and won 17 games. For that reason, she is the 2013-14 Daily Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Joining Farmer on the All-Delco first team, which is selected after consultation with area high school and AAU coaches, are Archbishop Carroll junior Lexi Stover, Bonner-Prendergast junior Alyssa Monaghan, Episcopal Academy senior Sarah Abbonizio, Radnor senior Myonie Williamson and Ridley senior Bree Mulhern.
Click here to see the full list of the 2013-14 girls basketball All-Delco teams.
Farmer had stiff competition for the Player of the Year honor. Monaghan, a St. Joseph's recruit, was a close runner-up and deserving candidate by virtue of leading Bonner-Prendie to the Catholic League semifinals and PIAA Class AAA tournament. Monaghan was also in the running for state PIAA Class AAA player of the year and Catholic League MVP honors.
Farmer is the first Daily Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year from O'Hara since Stephanie Holzer, who won the award in 2009.
Farmer was chosen to be the next great one at O'Hara, following the departure of several excellent players, including three-time All-Delco Shanice Johnson (Delaware), Mackenzie Rule (St. Joseph's) and Lisa Mintzer (La Salle). Farmer didn't shy away from being the leader everyone knew she would be.
"You had to work with what you got and just keep trying to improve as a team," Farmer said. "You can't say, 'Oh, we don't have the players we had last year.' We couldn't give up. We knew we had to work together and build together. I think we won our first game and then lost our second game, and I looked at it like, well, thankfully we lost because we have to build off of that. I think the best way to build chemistry is losing first, and we saw that with our team. When you lose, you know that you have to do something different. We had to change and that's what we did."
O'Hara pulled off some amazing wins, including Farmer's best memory of the season, a thrilling buzzer-beating win against Bonner-Prendergast. The Lions fell short of their ultimate goal of celebrating in Hershey with a state title. They lost a heartbreaker to Archbishop Wood in the Catholic League semifinals at Philadelphia University, and were overmatched in their season-ending loss to Mount St. Joseph's in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament.
"(Mount St. Joseph's) defense was just crazy," Farmer said, recalling a disappointing end to her high school career. "As soon as I touched the ball, there were three players on me. They owned that night and I thought they should have went far and won states. I'm surprised they didn't."
Farmer went on to win Catholic League MVP honors with a 16.6 scoring average, which was good for fifth-best in Delaware County.
"It wasn't the great season we hoped for, but I'm proud of the way we never gave up in games," she said.
Farmer had turned in her uniform just a few days prior to learning she was named Daily Times Player of the Year.
"I'm so glad I have this jersey on again,' Farmer said last month, after posing for her All-Delco pictures in the renovated O'Hara gymnasium. "I wouldn't say I cried, but I felt very happy when I found out."
The recognition is well deserved.
Daily Times Girls Basketball Super 7
1. Cardinal O'Hara (17-9)
2. Bonner-Prendergast (19-7)
3. Archbishop Carroll (15-10)
4. Garnet Valley (25-3)
5. Episcopal Academy (15-7)
6. Ridley (19-8)
7. Penn Wood (17-6)