by Tom Utescher
As at the start of the 2012-13 girls basketball season, one of Penn Charter’s first interscholastic encounters this year came in a Thanksgiving Week scrimmage against Lansdale Catholic High School, with the teams meeting last Friday morning in Montgomery County.
A year ago at Penn Charter, the Crusaders had the better of the host Quakers by a 13-point margin, but this time LC felt the absence of talented guard Mary Kate Brokans (graduated) and 6’3” Shalina Miller (transferred) from its line-up. Although PC’s performance was no work of art, over the course of five eight minute periods the visitors put up a total 40 points to LC’s 34.
It’s still very early days, but PC fans were hoping this performance portended an upswing in the fortunes of the Quakers, who finished with a 2-10 record in the Inter-Ac League last year to wind up in a three-way tie for fifth place along with Agnes Irwin and Baldwin.
Charter was a relatively young squad last year and is even younger this season, with guard Kristina Kubach the lone representative of the senior class on the Quakers’ roster. At times during the scrimmage in Lansdale, Charter had one sophomore on the floor along with four freshmen.
The ballclub is not without significant varsity experience, though. Sophomore guards Hannah Fox and Ayanna Matthews, who led the fight against the Crusaders with 14 and nine points, respectively, have both been varsity starters since they were in eighth grade. Junior forward Nicolette Napoleon, who transferred in to PC last year, was a full-time starter, while Kubach and current sophomore Taylor Zahairagunn, a forward, both saw a number of starts for the Quakers during the 2012-13 campaign.
Kubach’s older sister Kelly, who is now playing lacrosse at the University of Michigan (and who attended Friday’s scrimmage), began the 2012-13 season as a first-string guard before going down with an injury.
A second graduated player who started at times last year is Katie O’Malley, a forward out of Norwood Fontbonne Academy who was also a member of the Penn Charter crew.
Another member of the current sophomore class, guard Eileen Hennessey, saw a good deal of playing time as a varsity reserve last year, but unfortunately she has suffered an injury that could put her entire hoops season in jeopardy. Her primary sport is softball, and she started at shortstop for PC last spring as a freshman.
Speaking of multi-sport athletes, the group of freshmen who will be playing up on the Quakers’ varsity this year includes 5’11” forward Mireyah Davis. A new arrival at the school, Davis stepped right in this fall to become the starting goalie for the soccer team, which enjoyed its most successful season ever. Kubach, Fox, and Matthews were also members of that squad.
The more ninth-graders who were immediately tabbed for varsity basketball duty are guard Alexis Hnatkowski and forward Camryn Gold. Gold is fifth in a string of talented sisters; her older siblings played most of their high school basketball at Council Rock North.
In the scrimmage setting at Lansdale Catholic last week, third-year PC head coach David Bass also gave freshman Julie Webb some varsity playing time, and he was impressed with how the tall forward handled herself. In addition to the returning junior starter at forward, Napoleon, the 11th-grade contingent on he team includes two players who will probably swing between varsity and JV, Caroline Jones and Jessica Soens.
As for many seasons past, the first tournament on Penn Charter’s schedule is the annual event that takes place about a mile down School House Lane, at Germantown Friends.
This Friday, the Quakers will take on the girls of Maryland’s Indian Creek School at 5:00 P.M., with a game pitting the GFS girls against Bodine High School to follow at 6:30 P.M.