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December 17, 2009

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Springside hoopsters click in second half to put away GFS

New GFS girls basketball head coach James Jordan talks to his Tigers during a time-out in last week’s game at Springside.

Although the host Lions of Springside School led the whole way in last Tuesday’s non-league basketball bout, the visiting Tigers of Germantown Friends were still not out of it at the halfway point, when the Lions were up 22-11.

A few quick baskets at the start of the third quarter could’ve gotten GFS right back in contention, but after the intermission a quite different scenario developed, as Springside put the contest out of reach with an 11-minute, 27-2 run.

A potent inside/outside balance on offense fueled the victory. Colleen Caldwell, a senior guard who’s headed to Muhlenberg College, did not fill her customary starting role for the Lions, but when she came off the bench at the start of the second quarter, she launched into a game-high 13-point performance that included three field goals from beyond the three-point arc.

Sophomore Sydni Epps drove to the hoop for most of her ten points, and senior post player Fran Edmondson scored nine points for the winners, who leveled their season record at 2-2. As expected, GFS (0-2) received most of its points from the backcourt combo of senior Shelby Tucker (11 points) and junior Julya Loder (nine). Tucker is a returning starter, while Loder sat out with an injury all last year after a promising freshman season.

Before the game there was a friendly greeting between Springside coach Brian Morris and the new mentor for GFS, James Hamilton, who had played for La Salle University when the Explorers were coached by Bill “Speedy” Morris, Brian’s father.

Originally from Liberia in West Africa, Hamilton had the opportunity to come to the U.S. and play high school basketball. He attended Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, NY, then went on to La Salle, where he graduated in 2001. After that he coached the freshman boys basketball team at Penn Charter up until he accepted the post at GFS, while also working on the side providing one-on-one basketball instruction.

Hamilton’s wife spotted the school’s ad for a girls coach, and it was an ideal fit since the couple lives just a few minutes from Germantown Friends along with their two children, a three-year-old daughter and a nine-month-old son.

He came into the job knowing that the Tigers had just graduated one of their all-time leading scorers in guard Nina Voith (now playing at Haverford College) and their strongest post player in Jasmine West (who’s running tack at the University of Richmond).

“Since I started with them at the first practice, I’ve seen quite a lot of improvement,” he said. “When you have passion and a desire to play well, it counts for a lot.”

At the outset of Tuesday’s tilt, Springside’s Alexis Giovinazzo nailed a trey from the top of the key to open the scoring, then teammate Stacey Costain (four points) blocked a GFS shot at the other end, helping set up a transition basket by Epps. After a lay-up by Edmondson put the Lions up 7-0, senior Izzy Janzen broke the ice for the Tigers with a bucket from beyond the foul line. A pair of Loder lay-ups helped the visitors close the gap to four points (10-6) by the end of the quarter.

Caldwell then came off the Springside bench for seven straight points, and later she added her second three-pointer of the period. In between, GFS’ Tucker hit a free throw and went coast-to-coast for a lay-up. After Caldwell’s second long-range lob, Epps fed Jamie McGinn (four points) for a fast break lay-up that spread the score to 22-9. The last points in the first half came on a pair of free throws by Loder, so even though the visitors were behind by double digits at the break, Springside’s lead of 22-11 was not an insurmountable one.

The host team’s second-half surge began modestly enough, with a lone Courtney Caputo free throw. Five other scorers joined in, and by the middle of the fourth quarter, the Lions led, 44-13. Springside has three new starters this year, but the Lions were now doing a better job of finding one another on the floor and making off-the-ball cuts than they’d done in their previous home appearance just six days earlier.

With Springside getting its subs some playing time late in the game, the Tigers were able to finish up with a 10-1 run over the last three minutes.

 




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