by Tom Utescher
Rolling into last Tuesday’s Girls Inter-Ac opener with a 6-0 record against non-league rivals, host Penn Charter rumbled to a 21-5 lead in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit lead over the Academy of Notre Dame the rest of the afternoon.
Junior shooting guard Brianna Butler banged in a game-high 18 points and senior point guard Aleesha Powell added a dozen points in the Quakers’ 55-40 victory. PC received 10 points from junior center Dianna Thomas Palmer, while senior Kendall Stokes contributed seven points and juniors MaryKate O’Brien and Danielle Seinko rounded out the total with four points each.
“The team just did a really good job coming out of the gate,” remarked PC head coach Diana Caramanico. “They were really focused for the start of the game, because they knew that Notre Dame is always a really tough league opponent that is very well-coached and has kids who play hard.”
Doing the bulk of their scoring after the intermission, Notre Dame junior forward Molly Borghese and sophomore guard Kathleen Fitzpatrick finished with 14 points apiece. Borghese struck mostly from the paint while Fitzpatrick flung in four three-point field goals, but the Irish came no closer than 13 points, reducing their deficit to 51-38 with 1:23 remaining in the game.
Notre Dame had already played one league contest, defeating Episcopal Academy, 46-35, and Tuesday’s loss gave the visitors an overall mark of 3-2.
When the transition game is working for the Quakers, they can pile up points in a hurry, and once Powell scampered down the court to hit a lay-up just 10 seconds into the contest, Charter had a lead it never relinquished. Another 19 points followed in the opening period, including nine from Butler, who dumped in a pair of lay-ups, a baseline jumper, and a three-pointer.
In the second quarter the Irish collected themselves and did a better job of getting down the court in the defensive transition, and a 7-7 standoff set the halftime count at 28-12. The Quakers continued in a maintenance mode the rest of the way.
With under six minutes remaining, PC was up 18 at 43-25. After that Fitzpatrick tried to rally Notre Dame with three three-point buckets, but seven points from the foul line over the last few minutes helped the hosts preserve a comfortable lead.
“We’re getting better every day and we’re focusing on the little things that we still need to improve, so I guess I’d say ‘cautious optimism’ is what I feel right now,” Coach Caramanico commented. “We’re playing hard and we’re learning from our mistakes, and also from our successes.”
UPDATE: The Quakers ran their record to 8-0 on Wednesday afternoon, turning a 26-15 halftime advantage into a 57-48 victory at Neumann Goretti High School. Penn Charter has played in the Trenton Catholic High School Christmas Tournament for the past several seasons, and the Quakers will participate again this year on December 29 and 30.