by Tom Utescher
Moving up out of a 6-6 tie at the start of the second quarter, visiting Pennington School achieved a 17-13 halftime advantage at Germantown Friends last Monday afternoon. Slowly, but steadily, the Red Raiders widened the gap, leading by six points at the three-quarter mark and eventually defeating the GFS hoop squad by 10, 37-27.
The New Jersey franchise climbed above the .500 mark to 2-1 overall, while GFS was still searching for its first victory four games into the season.
“There were some improvements,” Tigers head coach Ashley Webster said after Monday’s contest. “I thought we pretty much rebounded evenly with them today, and that was a weak area in the first three games.”
Senior forward Caroline Myran was playing for the her first time this season after sitting out to recover from a concussion. However, sophomore point guard Lizzie Becker, a returning starter, was still on the injured list.
“Without our point guard, it’s tough to get into the flow of the offense,” Webster admitted. “It also results in a number of people playing positions they aren’t used to. I’m not thrilled about our record right now, but I’d rather give up a non-league loss and be able to have all our players back healthy in January, when we really get into the heart of the league schedule.”
Juniors Imani Ross, Schuyler Alig, and Julia Mankoff made field goals for the Tigers to help bring the first quarter of the Pennington game to a 6-6 conclusion, then sophomore Maddie Berg hit a short jumper to push GFS ahead at the start of the second round. The visitors then moved in front for good with an 8-0 run in the middle of the period, although at the intermission, Germantown was only four points back, at 17-13.
The Red Raiders’ Brittany Bridge, a tall quick guard, led all scorers at the break with 10 points, and would go on to post a game-high of 21.
In the first six minutes of the third quarter, the Tigers kept close with buckets by Ross and Mankoff, and with senior Rachel Allison’s fast break lay-up off of a steal.
The host team had trimmed a point off its deficit to trail by just three points (23-20), but they would not score a field goal in the final 10 minutes of the contest. During that same time span, Pennington’s Caitlin Herbert put up seven of her nine second-half points, most of them coming on transition lay-ups as she drove past the Tigers. She and Bridge accounted for all of the visitors’ scoring after halftime.
“Overall, I thought our man-to-man defense worked much better than the zone,” Germantown’s Webster said. “There were just some mistakes out there due to the fact that we weren’t communicating well. It sort of came down to basic basketball IQ, which I need to work more on developing in our team.”
Bridge, with her 21 points, and Herbert, with 12, scored 33 of Pennington’s 37 points for the afternoon. Mankoff and Ross put up 10 and seven points, respectively, for the Tigers, with the newly-returned Myran adding three. Two points apiece were furnished by Alig, Allison, and Berg, and junior Lydia Harvey hit one free throw.
UPDATE – At Westtown School on Wednesday, GFS recorded its first victory of the season (37-33) while balancing its Friends Schools League record at 1-1. The Tigers recovered after trailing 22-17 at halftime, although an ailing Alig was unable to play during the fourth quarter, and Myran fouled out of the game two minutes into the final period. Each finished with eight points.
GFS didn’t take the lead for good until Allison dropped a three-pointer with a minute to go to make it 35-33. Next, a Westtown miss was rebounded by the Tigers and Ross was fouled. She hit a pair of free throws to ice the victory and share game-high scoring honors with Westtown’s Naomi Jimenez, each netting 14 points.