By Jonathan Vander Lugt
The Germantown Friends Tigers, sit at 8-4, and have a 2-0 headstart on Friends League play.
Mike Buckmire, the lanky, cerebral senior guard has been leading the team.
“Since last year we’ve played through him,” GFS head coach Shawn Werdt said. “He does a good job of picking his spots and not forcing things. He’s just taking what’s there.”
To the tune of 22 points per game, as of December 21 (the last release of the Friends League newsletter) on the young season.
“One area that he’s continually improved on is his shooting, and him being a threat from behind the three-point line is making him that much more difficult for other teams to contain,” Werdt said.
The Tigs ran into a major hurdle when fellow senior Sam Istvan broke his ankle in the team’s first game. Istvan figured to be one of the more important auxiliary pieces in GFS’ offense—a space-clearing perimeter threat—and Buckmire has had to pick up some of that slack.
“We talked about that,” Werdt said. “He realizes that if he’s not shooting or creating a play for someone else, we’re probably not going to end up with a great look.”
Peter Gard has been impressive as well. The junior, in addition to Buckmire, has done a stellar job of filling the gap that Istvan’s injury left.
“He’s averaging 10 points per game for us right now, and he has 34 made three pointers,” Werdt said. “Having him pick up a lot of the slack on the perimeter after Sam went down has been huge in allowing us to space the floor.”
“He’s been a really pleasant surprise,” Werdt said. According to the aforementioned newsletter, Gard is averaging a shade over 10 points per game. Also making appearance throughout the stat leaderboard is Pietro Bergella, the team’s most viable inside threat He’s averaging 12.1 by leveraging his 6-foot-7-inch height to beat opponents.
The Tigers played Cristo Rey Tuesday before resuming their conference slate on Friday against Westtown, one of the top prep teams in the state.
“We’ve had some guys step up and do a really good job,” Werdt said. “We’re hoping that we’ll have Sam back in two to three weeks.”
Two, according to Werdt, might be ambitious, but a light at the end of the tunnel is encouraging in and of itself.
“We’ve had adversity as far as kids being sick, or ill, or breaking their foot—whatever it is—and some of them have been thrusted into extended minutes that we weren’t necessarily expecting,” Werdt said.
“That’s going to pay dividends down the line and make us a better ball club,” he went on. “It’ll add depth for when these games really count.”
GA, PC start well; SCH struggles
With the new year comes a new focus for area basketball teams: getting into the meat of the team’s conference schedule, and each of the northwest’s area teams (La Salle, Germantown Academy, Germantown Friends, Penn Charter, and Springside Chestnut Hill) are off to above-.500 starts. For each, they have to be pleased with their relative standings.
The worst record of the three Inter-Ac squads is SCH’s 6-4—a mark that equals the amount of wins that the Blue Devils had throughout all of last season. Zuri Peyton leads the team—which takes on Malvern Prep in the nightcap of Friday’s conference season-opening triple-header at Philadelphia University—with a 14.8 points per game scoring average.
Germantown Academy and Penn Charter sit at 8-3 and 8-4, respectively. They each play in the same triple header mentioned above—GA against the Haverford School, and Penn Charter against Episcopal Academy in the night’s opener. The Pats are relying on Evan-Eric Longino (24.5 points per game) and Kyle McCloskey (18.7), while PC will look to Mason Williams (14.6) to keep up his stellar play.
La Salle—which played Lansdale Catholic Tuesday in its conference season opener—has five players averaging double figures. Spread-out scoring has been the 6-3 Explorers’ bread-and-butter in their run of success the past few seasons, and this year’s main players are Zach Crisler (12.0 points per game), Sean Simon (12.0), Jarrod Stukes (11.9), Konrad Kiszka (10.4), and Matt Paulus (10.4).
Jonathan Vander Lugt can be reached at email@example.com