by Jonathan Vander Lugt
After a season of disarray, Germantown Academy head coach Jim Fenerty seems to have finally righted the ship.
Two weeks ago, the Pats were 0-7 in the conference and barreling toward disaster. The average margin of loss was nearly 15 points, and GA was in very real danger of its first winless Inter-Ac season in almost three decades.
That said, if there’s one thing that a Philadelphia high school basketball fan should have learned over the past three-plus decades, it’s to never count Fenerty out.
After a players-only meeting about two weeks ago, Germantown Academy finally won in the league – a 61-59 win over Episcopal on February 2 – before blowing the roof off of Penn Charter’s season with a 55-37 shellacking of the Quakers four days later.
The Pats eventually lost to Malvern Prep in the season-ender Friday, but 2-8 is worlds better than 0-10.
The meeting was “what the kids needed –in all honesty,” Fenerty said. “I made them have it because I felt like they were on the verge of not listening. They were letting everything around them bother them. When you have a team that loses, it can snowball. You start pointing fingers and all of that kind of stuff.”
Their most recent loss was a 30-point drubbing at the hands of the eventual league champion Haverford School on January 30.
“I was proud of them because I basically sent them to the room and said, ‘I’ll see you in an hour,’” Fenerty said. “When they came out for practice the next day, it was an entirely different attitude.”
“We talked about playing together and playing smart,” said sophomore guard Zach Anderson. “We have to be confident with ourselves and I think it’s starting to come together.”
In the win over Penn Charter, Fenerty got a glimpse of what could be a terrific future. The defense was lock-down from the start, holding Penn Charter to a woeful 11-for-63 from the floor (17 percent!) and a tenth-grade-or-younger three-headed monster on offense showed signs of emerging.
Jordan Longino, the freshman who has scored a whopping 449 points on the season, put up 15. It’s below his usual standard of greatness – his previous two games featured totals of 27 and 31, respectively – but if 15 points is a “down game,” you’re in pretty good shape. Elsewhere, Anderson notched 15, while Juan Adames, a fellow soph, scored nine.
“We’re all kind of young too – as we get older I think that chemistry is going to build and build and build,” Anderson said. “There’s definitely a good relationship there.”
Adames manned the point, while Anderson flanked him at the two. Longino, after facilitating much of the team’s offense this year, roamed off-ball as a guard-wing hybrid.
“We put Juan Adames in at starting point guard because we’ve been riding Jordan Longino all year,” Fenerty said. “Juan’s been doing a good job of controlling the situation and getting the ball to Jordan in spots. What that did is open things up for Brian (Basile) and Zach (Anderson). I think the future’s bright.”
All of this largely happened without freshman guard Lacey Snowden – who scored 18 in the league opener against Haverford before going on a varsity hiatus to handle personal matters.
Basile, a junior, has come around to average double figures in league play after missing most of the first half of the season. Anderson has notched at least 10 in all but two league contests. The pieces appear to be there for the Patriots, if a year or two early.
“We’re getting there,” Fenerty said. “They’re great kids and they want to win. They’re finishing strong.”
Unfortunately for PC faithful, the coach on the other side of the scorer’s table can’t say the same thing. After starting the league season at 3-1, Jim Phillips’ senior-heavy Quaker team sputtered to a 4-6 finish in the league.
“We stunk,” he said after the loss to GA. “We shot like nothing – zero percent, we were bad. They played harder than us. That’s why they won the game.”
Mason Williams led with 14, and no other Quaker finished with more than six.
“If I could have told you what led to it, I could have prevented it from happening,” Phillips went on. “We just didn’t play hard tonight – that happens sometimes. They’re teenage boys.”
Penn Charter will have an opportunity to rebound in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) year-end tournament Wednesday in a first-round matchup against Friends Central. Germantown Academy will play the same day at the Hill School.
Around the Area:
The other two teams within Northwest Philadelphia’s other teams didn’t fare very well last week either.
Springside Chestnut Hill dropped a pair – a 62-43 loss to the Haverford School Tuesday and a 51-50 heartbreaker to Episcopal Friday. The Blue Devils have ended the conference season at 3-7 – not great, but much, much better than it has been in years past. Head coach Julian McFadden has SCH trending up, and he and his squad will travel to Malvern Prep in the first round of the PAISAA tournament Tuesday.
Germantown Friends lost a close Friends Schools League playoff play-in to the Academy of the New Church on Tuesday, 35-32. The Tigers now have another play-in to weather – this one for the PAISAA tournament – against conference foe George School on Tuesday for a chance to play league power Westtown or the similarly dangerous Perkiomen School in the PAISAA tourney’s first round.
Information from TedSilary.com was used in this story.