Just past mid-January, nothing was set in stone yet in the quest for the girls' basketball championship in the Inter-Ac League, but last Friday, Penn Charter made a big step towards retaining its title.
Just past the middle of January, nothing was set in stone yet in the quest for the girls' basketball championship in the Inter-Ac League, but last Friday Penn Charter made a big step towards retaining its title in the league.
Starting the second six-game round of league contests, the Quakers once again defeated Germantown Academy, which had tied for second place in the Inter-Ac last winter with the Academy of Notre Dame.
The scores of this season's two games were fairly similar, 54-39 last Friday at Penn Charter and 55-37 out at GA on December 13, but Penn Charter's path to success varied a bit.
In December, six-foot senior Bella Toomey ran the floor and scored in transition to lead the PC victory with 24 points. She made two three-point field goals in the final 11 minutes of the game, and those were the only treys appearing in the Quakers' stats.
In the rematch, six different Penn Charter players hit a combined nine three-point shots, accounting for half of their team's total. Senior guard Aleah Snead put in one of them during the second half on her way to a game-high 17 points. Toomey collected 11 points, starting out with two three's and adding another in the third period.
Penn Charter came away with a record of 11-8 overall and 7-0 in the Inter-Ac, with the only obstacle in the remaining league games (barring a momentous upset) being the team's second meeting with Notre Dame. The Irish fell to Charter 51-43 the first time around, and also had a single-figure loss to GA, 48-43.
That Notre Dame - Germantown game had come while regular starting Patriots forward Jessica Aponik had still been out of action with an ankle injury she'd suffered in the warm-up's before the GA-PC game in mid-December. After Friday's tilt with the Quakers, the Patriots were 11-9 overall and 4-2 in league play (they have still to play Baldwin School twice).
The three teams at the bottom of the Inter-Ac standings (Agnes Irwin, Springside Chestnut Hill, and Baldwin) are simply no match for the top three. In the middle sits Episcopal Academy, which has had a subpar season and doesn't look to be a spoiler in the Inter-Ac title chase. In the first round through the league, EA lost at home to Charter, 63-38, and on the road at GA, 69-29.
Last Friday at PC, the St. Joseph-bound Snead romped down to score for Penn Charter off of the opening tip, then GA briefly enjoyed the lead thanks to a three-pointer from the right wing by junior Izzy Casey. Penn Charter also went to work from the outside, starting with a strike from above the keytop by sophomore Kaylynn Bethea.
GA's next two possessions ended with a turnover on a bad pass and a shot clock violation, while PC's produced a pair of three-pointers by Toomey to make it 11-3. Snead and Toomey kept scoring for Charter, while senior center Kendall Bennett and junior guards Jessica Aponik and Sam wade found the basket for Germantown Academy.
When eighth-grade guard Ryan Carter popped in a jumper from near the foul line on a transition sequence to give the Quakers a 17-9 lead, the Patriots called time out with 2:36 remaining in the opening quarter.
Play resumed with a baseline drive by Snead, then GA freshman Addi Levensten hit a jumper from the right side.
Snead connected on one of two free throws with a minute to go. The GA defense forced a shot clock violation by Penn Charter, but the hosts still led 20-11 at the quarter.
The Quakers didn't make any big break-out runs, but generated little spurts of offense that left GA trying to claw back some points to stay in contention. The score seesawed to 22-13 early in the second round, then the hosts picked up back-to-back three pointers from senior Gracie Shoup and freshman Liv Vieira.
Germantown sophomore Jessica Kolecki hooped a pair of foul shots as GA got into the bonus. Charter was soon in the bonus, as well, but came up empty on a one-and-one just after a GA junior whiffed on a pair of these opportunities.
Casey, who would emerge as the Patriots' high scorer with 12 points, stole the ball and bagged a short jumper, and then scored on a baseline drive and made a free throw awarded on the play. In under three minutes, the Patriots had reduced a 15-point deficit (28-13) to eight, but just before the halftime buzzer Snead scored from the paint to make it a 10-point game at the break, 30-20.
The Patriots needed to push back at the start of the second half, but that's not what happened. Three-pointers by Toomey and Snead bookended a 10-2 surge for the Quakers over the first three minutes, spreading the score to 48-22. Bennett scored Germantown's two points during this PC run, then picked up her third personal foul as soon as it was over.
Shoup and Bethea provided some inside scoring for the leaders, PC's Carter and GA's Aponik traded three-point field goals, and Casey made a successful drive for the visitors at the end. The Patriots' circumstances hadn't changed much since the middle of the period, though, with a 17-point gap between the teams (47-30) at the three-quarter mark.
GA was only able to get two points closer during the fourth quarter, as both teams sent in their reserves.
The double-digit scoring of PC's Snead and Toomey was complemented by eight points apiece by Bethea and Carter, with Shoup adding seven points and Vieira scoring three. After Casey, the GA scoring column contained seven points each for Aponik and Wade, six for Bennett, four for Levensten, two for Kolecki, and one for fellow sophomore Gabby Bowes.