by Jody Kessler

The Germantown Friends basketball team is not wimpy.  Lacking size they go up against some big teams in the Friends league, but they do not back down.

Friday against Academy of New Church this was the case.  ANC is huge, with three players committed to Division One powerhouses.Even though the score got ugly and GFS was not happy with their execution you could not question their effort.  Even late in the game they were still scrapping, diving for loose balls and fighting for every possession.

ANC started the game with 15 straight points, including an alley-oop to Syracuse bound senior Rakeem Christmas.Will Randall finally scored for the Tigers.  The ANC Lions’ length really bothered GFS, their long arms continually deflecting passes and leading to steals.  GFS tried to run their offe- nse but the Lions disrupted it.  Randall did score another basket, this time a three after a Tyler Clausen-Wolf steal, but by the end of the quarter it was 28-5 ANC.

ANC pulled the starters out.  Their second five was tough too, but it did look like more of an even contest. GFS got a block and Gil- man Myran worked hard and got to the free throw line where he hit a pair.  He would score again a few possessions later.  With the starters back in ANC made one last push before halftime for a commanding lead.  Villanova bound junior Savon Lloyd-Goodman had three dunks in a row, two off steals and the final one an alley-oop where he slammed it home, rattling the backboard.  It was 44-11 ANC at half.

ANC’s Pitt bound 7’ senior Malcolm Gilbert started the second half with one of his five blocks.  Then he caught the ball on the break, slammed it home and got to the free throw line.  It was pure domination by the visitors.They had another 28 point quarter.  Clausen-Wolf scored for GFS, as did Clay Fairbanks with two free throws.  Jesse Smith hit a three.  It was 72-18 after three quarters.  The fourth quarter ANC emptied their bench, but GFS kept fighting.  Smith hit another three.  They dove for loose balls.They played hard to the buzzer, and could be proud of themselves for the effort.

Even though it looked like they fought hard the players were not happy with their effort.  “We didn’t play defense at all,” said Myran.  “It was tough.  Even when they pulled their starters, we were nervous, we didn’t hang on the ball, took quick shots.Our game plan was to get good possessions, get open shots, we didn’t do that at all.  We let them dictate style of play, which was quick and that’s not what we wanted at all.  We’ll come back to practice on Monday, work hard and try to figure it out.  Next three games, it’s not going to get much easier, maybe a little bit but not much so we have to come ready to play.  It’s a good wake up call for the rest of our league games.  You just have to forget about it and move on.”

“It was a tough one,” said point guard Hank Goldenberg. “For a lot of these guys on our team its hard to go up against these 6’6” guys in that atmosphere, there’s  a lot of hands in your face. People get rattled.  Just try and did the best we could out there and keep our composure. We tried to, but with their long arms the plays we were trying to run weren’t working they got their hands on a lot of balls. Our coach tried to preach the little things like boxing out to try and keep us in it, but we definitely could have done a better job of keeping our composure.Sometimes from the beginning to the end it seems like a battle but you have to keep fighting, keep going. I’m proud, the focus combined with the effort would have helped a little more but we worked hard, kept going.”

GFS coach Brandon Jones said, “It was a rough one for us.  Our effort was there but our execution was lacking at times. They’re a good team and if you let them get on a run it’s tough. We got caught up in their speed ran into a track meet, and it took us out of our flow. We did.  After we realized they’re just another team, we have five they have five, but at that point the whole was dug.  We were taking too many three pointers. It’s a lesson for these guys.  We ran to an open shot in practice but the game comes and guys tiptoe to the spot. We need to do what we do rather than letting the speed of the game taking us out of what we need to do.”

Gilbert said of the Lions, “We’re looking really good, way better than last year.  We’ve come together as a family now, really connected. It’s a good thing.”  About their prospects for going far in the state tournament the soft-spoken senior said, “I think they’re really high, we have a great chance of winning states this year. I have no doubt we can beat whoever we play.”