by Tom Utescher
To keep their basketball instincts and skills from getting rusty over the holiday break, the Germantown Friends School girls travelled out to West Chester University last week to make a tournament appearance at the 20th Annual West Chester Christmas Classic.
The Tigers did indeed need to scrape off some rust in their opening game on Thursday afternoon, when they suffered a 49-30 loss to Oley Valley High School, located a little east of Reading. Reaching farther out into central Pennsylvania the following afternoon, GFS took Susquehanna Township High School well beyond the regular 32 minutes before succumbing to the Harrisburg team in double overtime, 45-42.
On Saturday the Tigers (3-7 overall) were scheduled to play Phoenixville High in the seventh/eighth place game, but the Phantoms forfeited the contest.
Germantown’s first tourney opponents, the Oley Valley Lynx, were similar in size to the Tigers, but they seemed more at home on the basketball court. They instinctively spotted opportunities to go for steals, penetrate to the basket, or slide in for a rebound – the kind of thing that comes from playing the sport more than just during the three or fourth months of the school season.
Sophomore guard Imani Ross and junior forward Caroline Myran gave GFS an early 4-2 edge, then a little run lifted the Lynx to a 9-4 lead. A baseline jumper by freshman guard Lizzie Becker and a steal-and-break score by senior forward Katherine Walden got the Tigers right back in it at 9-8.
Scoring three lay-ups with a jumper mixed in, the Lynx put up the last four points of the opening quarter and the first four of the second round, and this time they didn’t let the Tigers come back.
Starting the second half down 25-10, GFS began well with an inside bucket by Myran and a three-pointer by Becker, but by the end of the third quarter the Lynx had recouped almost all of their halftime lead, up 34-20. Oley Valley’s margin peaked at two dozen points (49-25) before sophomore forward Schuyler Alig hit back-to-back field goals for GFS. Becker added a final free throw for the Tigers, who shot three-for-11 at the line.
Myran scored 10 of her team-high 12 points in the second half, and finished with nine rebounds and three steals. The Tigers received six points apiece from Becker and Alig, four from Ross (four rebounds), and two from Walden (four steals). Leading the Lynx were junior guard Brandi Vallely, with 24 points, and sophomore forward Carly Kauffman, with an even dozen.
The Tigers seemed to have taken a step backward since their last game, a win over Mastery Charter exactly one week earlier.
“It was like mentally, we were still on break,” commented GFS coach Ashley Webster. “I told them that we needed to play like the team I know we are. They needed to play hard the whole 32 minutes, not just in certain parts of the game.”
It turned out that in their next contest, the Tigers played hard even longer than that, although a first-half injury to senior guard Sophie Mercuris left the already short-staffed squad without many reserves to call upon.
Germantown was up by half-a-dozen approaching halftime, then, Webster related, “We seemed to be a little worn down at the end and [Susquehanna] scored the last five points.”
Now down only 18-17 at the break, the Indians moved ahead by the end of the third round, 31-29, but in the fourth quarter the Tigers were able to pull even and send the game into overtime at 35-all. After a 4-4 draw in the first OT, Susquehanna edged ahead 45-42 in the second extra period, and the Tigers missed a final three-point shot that would’ve tied the contest once more.
A dozen points from Myran and nine from Becker led the scoring effort for Germantown, with Walden and Ross contributing eight points apiece and Alig adding five.
“They played so much better than the day before,” Webster remarked. “It was a full team effort, and they left everything out there on the court.”