by Tom Utescher
Germantown Friends wrapped up the girls basketball season last Friday in the second of two postseason tournament appearances, travelling down School House Lane to Penn Charter for an opening round game in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Championships.
The 13th-seeded Tigers were only down 18-12 near the end of the first quarter, but the host Quakers, the number four team, pulled away smartly in the second period and went on to win, 50-31.
PC, which rose to 15-11 overall, received a game-high 13 points from junior Hannah Fox, with two other guards, sophomore Alexis Hnatkowsky and junior Ayanna Matthews, adding eight and seven points, respectively. The Quakers were slated to face the winner of another first round match-up between Friends Schools League champion Friends Central (#5) and Hill School (#12).
Germantown Friends was led in the scoring column by its back court players; senior Imani Ross finished with 10 points, and junior Lizzie Becker with eight. One week earlier, the Tigers had beaten Westtown School, 44-34, in a play-in game for the Friends League tournament.
That victory set GFS up against top-seeded Shipley School last Tuesday, and the Gators won that league semifinal, 61-40. Shipley would go on to lose to Friends Central in the championship game. Ringing down the curtain on their season at Penn Charter, the GFS Tigers came away with an overall record of 11-11.
Assessing the team’s improvement over the course of the 2014-15 campaign, first-year head coach Tiffany Davis said, “We began to find our shots a little bit more. We played together on defense and communicated better, so we progressed overall.
“During the season,” she continued, “we wanted them to gain confidence, and we wanted to get across that everybody needed to contribute to the offense, instead of relying on one or two people to be the shooters.”
Last Friday Hnatkowsky started Penn Charter off with back-to-back three-point field goals from the right wing, and Matthews scored to make it 8-0 before a lay-up by Ross broke the ice for GFS. Forwards Schuyler Alig (a senior) and Nikki Williams (a sophomore) scored from the paint for the Tigers, while Ross added a free throw and then bagged a three-pointer late in the quarter to get the visitors within six points of PC.
A Charter sophomore, forward Julie Webb, hit a little baseline shot right at the buzzer, for a 20-12 tally. Webb scored the first point of the second period from the foul line and later she converted off of an offensive rebound. Fox, Matthews, and senior forward Nicolette Napoleon also scored for the hosts during the second stanza, and despite a midrange jumper and two free throws from Becker, the Tigers trailed 33-16 at halftime.
PC widened the gap further in a 10-2 third quarter, then GFS had a 13-7 advantage in the final period as both teams gave their reserve players a good deal of time on the court.
Penn Charter received six points from Mireyah Davis, five from Webb, four each from Napoleon and Caroline Jones, and three from Marylyn Pease. GFS marked down five points for Alig, four for Williams, and two apiece for Maddie Berg and Maya Keren.
Looking back to some highlights of the season, Tigers mentor Davis remarked, “The Stuart Country Day tournament in New Jersey was pretty encouraging. We won it and we got an award to take home. In our league we beat Westtown twice, and they’re a pretty good team. For awhile, we were able to hang in games against some really strong teams.”
In the offseason, she revealed, “A lot of the girls will be doing some drills and also playing AAU basketball. We’re going to keep working with them, and we’ll probably host a camp at GFS in the summer.”