Junior guard Lizzie Becker brings the ball up the floor for the GFS Tigers. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Junior guard Lizzie Becker brings the ball up the floor for the GFS Tigers. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

At Moorestown Friends School on Friday, January 9, the Germantown Friends Tigers suffered a 34-33 loss when they were hit with a foul call at the buzzer and the host Foxes garnered the winning point from the free throw line.

Exactly a week later, a similar situation developed on the Tigers’ home court. In last Friday’s contest, GFS was not threatened with imminent defeat when Westtown School went to the charity stripe with 1.9 seconds left, but the Tigers were in danger of seeing a two-point lead vanish and having the game go into overtime.

Instead, the visiting Moose made only the first shot in the one-and-one situation, and when the Tigers snatched the rebound of the second attempt, the final horn soon certified a 41-40 Germantown victory. It was the team’s first Friends Schools League win in four outings up to this point, and it got the ball club back to the .500 mark overall, at 7-7. Westtown went back out to Chester County at 1-2, 6-7.

Each team received 30 of its points from the combined efforts of two players. For victorious GFS, guards Imani Ross (a senior), and Lizzie Becker (a junior), who put up 16 and 14 points, respectively. Westtown had Naomi Jimenez log a game-high 20 points, while another 6’1” junior forward, Dagny “Tower of Ice” Davidsdottir, contributed 10 points to the cause.

Eunice Jimenez (Naomi’s sophomore sister and Westtown’s point guard) scored eight points in the first half, but, significantly, GFS was able to shut her out in the last two quarters. Westtown’s other two points in the game came from junior forward Kate Novak.

While the Tigers’ attack was clearly spearheaded by their guards, they got a combined 11 points from three forwards, seniors Julia Mankoff (five points) and Schuyler Alig (two), and junior Sunny Reardon (four).

First-year GFS head coach Tiffany Davis has been stressing the importance of balanced offensive production to her charges, and over the first four minutes of Friday night’s bout buckets by Ross, Mankoff, Becker, and Alig lifted the Tigers to an 8-3 advantage. However, Westtown soon answered with a driving lay-up and two free throws by Naomi Jimenez. Eunice Jimenez, who had kicked off the game’s scoring from the three-point loop, now drained a second triple for the Moose. Near the end of the quarter, Germantown’s Becker bagged a baseline jumper to balance the scoreboard at 10-10.

Three baskets from the paint by Naomi Jimenez and a score off a steal by her sister gave Westtown an 18-12 lead midway through the second quarter. That was as far apart as the teams would get all evening, and soon three-point field goals by Becker and Ross pulled the hosts back within two points by halftime. In between the Tiger treys, Westtown’s Davidsdottir drove the lane for her first points of the night, and at the interval the Moose led 20-18.

In the second half, neither team would lead by more than three-points. After a transition lay-up at the buzzer by Naomi Jimenez put the Moose up by one at the end of the third quarter (31-30), the lone three-point margin of the second half would favor GFS, as Reardon’s midrange jumper from the left wing with 2:12 remaining afforded the Tigers a 38-35 advantage.

When two free throws by Jimenez and a score off a rebound by Novak moved the visitors ahead by a point, GFS called time-out with 1:18 to go and the score at 39-38. The Tigers came back out and worked the ball around, and eventually Becker, on the right wing, passed the ball down to Ross in the corner on the same side of the court. The senior squared up and netted a “three” with 56 seconds left, making it 41-39 in Germantown’s favor.

Following a time-out with 47 seconds showing, the Moose deliberately shifted the ball around on the perimeter and drained the clock. Eunice Jimenez eventually let go a long shot from the right wing, and when it missed, Davidsdottir was the first to latch onto the ball under the basket. The Tigers’ Alig was on hand, as well, but she got called for a foul, and with Westtown in the foul bonus, Davidsdottir stepped to the foul line with 1.9 seconds left to play.

Her first shot hit the back of the rim, bounced straight up in the air, and then dropped through the net. Her second toss missed, and when the ball came off the rim to the left, Alig eagerly redeemed herself by pulling in the rebound and holding on until the horn sounded.