PC prevails on final shot in early-season showdown

by Tom Utescher
Posted 12/14/22

December was not even a week old, but last Tuesday's non-league basketball battle at Penn Charter had a playoff feel to it.

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PC prevails on final shot in early-season showdown


December was not even a week old, but last Tuesday's non-league basketball battle at Penn Charter had a playoff feel to it.

The visiting girls of Friends Central School led at the end of each of the first three quarters, and late in the third frame they were ahead by eight points.

The host Quakers drew even late in the fourth quarter, and eighth-grader Ryan Carter put an exclamation point on her home court debut when she squared up at the three-point loop and drilled the game-winning basket with less than 10 seconds to play.

The 55-52 triumph gave PC a 1-1 record in the young season. The Quakers had opened the 2022-23 campaign with a 59-56 loss to St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) at the She Got Game Super Games in Washington on December 1. Eighth-year Penn Charter head coach Joe Maguire lamented that his squad missed 11 free throws in that close contest.

Of course, the Quakers' home opener last week proved to be another pitched battle. PC would not even have been in a position to stage its late rally if not for a terrific (and consistent) performance by senior guard Aleah Snead, whose game-high 26 points broke down to 16 points in the first half and 10 in the second.

The young Carter rang up seven of her 11 points in the fourth quarter, and the winners got nine points apiece from senior forward Bella Toomey and sophomore guard Kaylinn Bethea. Toomey will continue her basketball career at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Snead will play for St. Joseph's.

On Tuesday the Friends Central Phoenix arrived with a 4-0 record under head coach Vincent Simpson, who took over last season for longtime FC mentor Phil Annas. The team's marquee player, 6'3" Logyn Greer, is a sophomore who is drawing a lot of interest from colleges. Out on the court at PC's Graham Athletic Center, she demonstrated her versatility right away; her first two field goals were a three-pointer and a lay-up off of a Charter turnover.

Fortunately for the Quakers, Snead also got going early, scoring 14 of her team's 19 points in the first quarter. Late in the period, she hit a short jumper from the lane to tie things up at 19-19, but in the final seconds FC edged ahead with a driving lay-up by Jordyn Adderly.

The lowest-scoring quarter of the afternoon ensued, and with 15 seconds left Greer hit a "three" from the left wing to give the visitors a 29-26 lead at the intermission. The Phoenix moved the ball briskly in their set offense, and got solid rebounding from forward Kaiya Rain Tucker.

Toomey, at six feet even, is PC's biggest player in the paint, but Snead is 5'11", and she and fellow guards Bethea and Carter used their quickness to swoop in and help out on the boards.

A free throw by FC's Tucker touched off the scoring in the second half, but Charter countered with a transition lay-up by Toomey and a short off-balance bank shot put in by Snead. Snead also made a free throw tacked onto her play to nudge the Quakers into a 31-30 lead.

Over the next few minutes, two lay-ups for the visitors by Tucker were answered with a pair of free throws by Carter and score from the paint by Bethea. PC led 35-34 in the middle of the third quarter, then buckets by three different players made up a 6-0 run for Friends Central. Snead then scored a lay-up, but the visitors' Nal'la Bennett lobbed in a trey from the left corner. The Phoenix stole the ball back, and Greer successfully drove the lane to send her squad into the final minute with its largest lead of the afternoon, an eight-point margin at 45-37.

Importantly, Penn Charter was able to halve that deficit before the end of the third round, getting a lay-up by Bethea and then a pair of made free throws by Snead with half-a-second on the clock. The tally was now 45-41, and PC mentor Maguire had to be happy to see his charges performing better at the free throw line than they had in the season opener.

Toomey fired a strange line-drive jump shot with almost no arc to launch the fourth quarter. She scored from the paint a little later, but Bennett had heated up for the Phoenix and she nailed a "three" and a shorter jumper to make it 50-45 a few minutes into the final period.

By the middle of the quarter, though, the scoreboard was balanced at 50-50, thanks to drives by Carter and Snead and a made free throw by Snead. After a lay-up from the lane by Greer gave Friends Central its last lead of the day, Charter called time-out with 2:08 remaining.

From the right flank, Carter bagged a midrange jumper and now it was FC's turn for a sideline peptalk, with the clock down to 1:21 and the game tied at 52-all.

When play resumed and the Phoenix came down the court on offense, Toomey blocked a shot. The Quakers grabbed the loose ball and then turned it over. A three-point shot by the visitors fell short, but they got the ball back when Penn Charter was called for a walk with just over 40 ticks to play.

The Phoenix, in turn, lost possession when pressure from Bethea and senior teammate Gracie Shoup forced a turnover and Shoup controlled the ball. As the last half-minute dwindled away, the Quakers worked the ball around on offense and out on the right wing Carter got a good look at the basket. From three-point range the confident eighth-grader unleashed a shot that sent the ball through the hoop with nine seconds remaining for a 55-52 Penn Charter lead.

At the other end of the floor, Toomey blocked a final shot by the Phoenix, and a scramble for the loose ball ended with Penn Charter in possession as time ran out.

Greer and Bennett led Friends Central with 16 points apiece, and Tucker added nine.