Penn Charter sophomore Hayley Hunt (right) goes up for a rebound over the Bambies’ Celine Tobin. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Penn Charter started winter with a win, as the girls’ basketball team raised its overall record to 4-6 with a December 22 victory over visiting St. Hubert’s Catholic High School.

Ahead 19-18 at halftime, the host Quakers added a little padding to their lead over the last two quarters to beat the Bambies, 38-33. Sophomores Kait Carter and Carmen Williams scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for PC, while freshman Kaitlyn Hnatkowsky also chipped in with a ten-spot and junior Abby Manion, sophomore India Barnes and freshman Laila Hamiter added two points apiece.

Things had not gone quite as well for the Charter ladies in their Inter-Ac League debut two days earlier. They led 17-6 early in the second quarter and were still up by eight at halftime (25-17) but then saw visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy seize the momentum and the lead in a 9-22 third quarter. SCH went on to win, 50-46.

As against St. Hubert’s, the PC offense was paced by Carter, Williams and Hnatkowsky, with 10, nine and eight points, respectively. The SCH Blue Devils took home a 4-2 overall mark after receiving 15 points from Mo’ne Davis, 14 from her junior classmate Caroline Clark and 12 from senior Destiny Rogers.

Assessing the first month of his team’s season, third-year Penn Charter head coach Joe Maguire said, “We’re still getting used to playing together. We lost some strong seniors last year, and this year we have a junior or two but we’re mostly freshmen and sophomores, and some of them are in roles they’re not used to.

“We just need to be more consistent,” he continued. “We need to learn how to play at a high level for whole games. We’ve played a tough schedule, as we planned to do. We’re hanging with these good teams, like [Archbishop] Ryan and Pennington, and then we have a letdown that leads to us losing the game.”

PC suffered from an early three-ball assault by St. Hubert’s at the start of last Thursday’s game. Three bombs from the outside had the Quakers down by seven points before the first quarter ended with a baseline shot by Manion that made it 11-6.

The visitors were accumulating fouls against them, though, and after a jumper by PC’s Williams opened the second quarter, her classmate, Barnes, was already going to the line in the one-and-one bonus, making both shots. Carter tossed in a “three” from the left wing to give the Quakers their first lead at 13-11, and the teams went back-and-forth until halftime.

Sophomore Kait Carter led the Quakers with a dozen points in last Thursday’s victory. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The Bambies were up 16-15 with two minutes remaining, then Williams put up four points in a hurry, scoring on an inbounds play from the offensive baseline and then stealing the ball right back and sinking a lay-up. St. Hubert’s Celine Tobin hit a lay-up in transition to make it a one-point affair at the interlude, with the hosts ahead 19-18.

That score stayed on the board until the middle of the third quarter, when a lay-up by the Bambies’ Megan O’Connell was matched by PC’s Hamiter. The teams continued to exchange points evenly, and Charter went into the final minute of the period with a 25-24 edge. The lead grew to three points when Carter gave the Quakers the last field goal of the period.

Midway through the fourth round, three-pointers by Hnatkowsky and Carter had contributed to a 35-28 advantage for the hosts.

There would be no more field goals for the Quakers, who would manage just one made free throw while St. Hubert’s hit a “three” and a lay-up and was just three points behind PC (36-33) with half-a-minute to go.

Charter missed a one-and-one chance at the foul line, but Carter rebounded the errant shot and soon Hnatkowsky was at the line with 10.7 seconds left. She nailed both shots for a five-point margin, and the Bambies called time-out with nine seconds on the clock. They missed an attempt from the three-point arc, and the Quakers had the win in the books.

In addition to their scoring leadership, Carter provided seven rebounds and four assists and Williams had five boards and three assists. Pacing St. Hubert’s on offense were Tobin, with eight points, O’Connell, with seven, and Emily Holmes and Amber Linder with six points apiece.

Over their winter break the Quakers will once again head down to Wildwood, N.J. to participate in the Boardwalk Classic. One of Coach Maguire’s goals is for the team to stop missing out on easy points on free throws and lay-ups.

“We’re not good enough so we can afford to lose focus against the types of teams we’re playing,” he said. “I think our defense is pretty good.

Offensively we need to run our plays, set good screens and make good decisions. Different players need to recognize what shots are good for them to take, and we need to be disciplined about that.”

After their trip to the shore, the Quakers will be diving right back into the deep end when the Inter-Ac schedule resumes on January 3. They will be going on the road to face defending league champ Germantown Academy.