by Tom Utescher
Upholding an annual tradition, Penn Charter joined host Germantown Friends in the field of four girls basketball teams last weekend at the Tigers’ Germantown Community Tournament, now in its 24th installment.
The PC Quakers captured the 2013 title in convincing fashion, knocking off Maryland’s Indian Creek School, 65-39, in a Friday semifinal, and then winning Saturday’s championship game over the Bodine High School for International Affairs, 67-26.
Bodine had advanced to the finals by getting past GFS on Friday, 41-33. The Tigers, who were missing three regular starters throughout the tournament, fell to Indian Creek in the consolation game, 51-32.
Germantown High School had been a participant in the tournament at its founding and in many subsequent years, but after 99 years, the venerable neighborhood institution closed its doors for good last June.
Penn Charter played in the first game of the 2013 tourney, but the Quakers had officially opened their 2013-14 season three days earlier, battling past visiting Friends Central, 35-30.
As the Community Tournament got underway, Charter built a double digit lead in the opening quarter and proceeded to a 40-13 halftime advantage over Indian Creek. By the end of the third period the gap had grown to 34 points, so for the fourth quarter PC picked up its bench and shook it, giving all the reserves plenty of playing time.
This allowed Indian Creek to shave eight points of its deficit and gave Eagles senior Cyndi Cole a game-high total of 21 points. PC’s more balanced and more successful offense yielded 15 points apiece for sophomore guards Hannah Fox and Ayanna Matthews. Freshman forward Camryn Gold also hit double figures, with 11 points, while senior guard Kristina Kubach drained a pair of three-pointers and scored seven points.
In the second of Friday’s semifinals, Germantown Friends was starting its season shorthanded. Senior forward Caroline Myran and sophomore point guard Lizzie Becker were sidelined for medical reasons, and junior guard Imani Ross was away at the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference. All three are returning starters for GFS.
In their absence, the question was who would step up for the Tigers. Junior forward Julia Mankoff did so without hesitation, hitting the boards hard, coming up with steals, and leading numerous fast breaks that resulted in lay-ups. She ended up scoring 12 of the 14 points posted in the first half by the Tigers, who led 8-5 at the quarter.
Bodine guard Tiana Garvin, a sophomore, kept her team in the hunt, and by halftime the teams were tied at 14-14 as Garvin negotiated 10 points for the Ambassadors.
Figuring out how to use their superior quickness to create turnovers, the Bodine players took a 20-17 lead over the first four minutes of the third quarter, forcing a GFS time-out by second-year head coach Ashley Webster. Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Ambassadors came back out to register a lay-up and two free throws by Garvin, and put-back by Sydney Mitchell.
By the end of the period, Bodine led by 10 points, 29-19, and a little over two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Ambassadors were up 37-21. The Tigers had one last growl in them, though, and it took the form of a 12-0 counterattack.
First, a put-back and three free throws by Mankoff and two foul shots by junior Gabby Tryce-Arnold got the gap back down into single figures, 37-28. Mankoff then hit a lay-up in transition, and when junior forward Schuyler Alig added a three-pointer from the right wing, the Tigers were within four points of the leaders with 2:16 showing on the clock.
After that, though, Bodine held the Tigers scoreless the rest of the way.
Kendra Stanford’s lay-up was the first field goal in more than four minutes for the Ambassadors, who shot two-for-five from the foul line over the final 75 seconds to win by eight points.
Mankoff finished with a game-high 23 points, one more than Bodine’s Garvin. Alig added seven points for GFS, while the Ambassadors had a second double-digit scorer in Mitchell, who finished with 10.
Indian Creek appeared to pick up some pointers from that game, because when the Eagles came out against GFS in Saturday’s consolation bout, they pressured the ball and stepped into the Tigers’ familiar passing lanes. The tactic didn’t have the desired effect immediately, but eventually Indian Creek broke out of an 8-8 tie late in the first quarter to acquire a 24-13 advantage by halftime.
With three different players connecting from the three-point line to keep the GFS defense off-balance, the Eagles extended their lead to 37-20 by the three-quarter mark, then posted the first five points of the final frame. Jump shooting by Alig helped the Tigers take a few points off the lead during the final six minutes, but the Maryland franchise still came away with a comfortable victory.
Cole, with 16 points and Janee Rhone, with 11, set the pace for the victors, while Mankoff led GFS with 11 points, and Alig emerged with 10.
Freshman center Nikki Williams came off the Tigers’ bench to add five points in the second half.
In the championship game that followed, it didn’t take long for the Penn Charter Quakers to establish a commanding lead against the Ambassadors. After starting off with two made free throws, Fox funneled in a pair of three-pointers and scored a number of breakaway lay-ups stemming from steals by Matthews and freshman forward Mireyah Davis. She accumulated 16 points in the first quarter alone, and Matthews tacked on a lay-up and a midrange jumper.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, it had to be discouraging for Bodine to see even PC’s strong junior post player, Nicolette Napoleon, step out past the three-point loop and hit a pair of shots. PC amassed a 26-0 lead before Bodine’s Mitchell converted off of a rebound to save her squad from a first-quarter shut-out.
Mitchell and Garvin led Bodine to its best quarter off offense during a 16-13 second period. Almost half of Penn Charter’s points came on three field goals from the paint by freshman center Julie Webb. When Bodine players made contact with the powerful ninth-grader, they usually bounced off and fell to the floor, while she hardly seemed to notice.
However, the leader of the freshman contingent on this afternoon was the 5’11” Davis, who recorded nine points and 10 rebounds while also finding teammates with effective passes.
After the score settled in at 39-18 for halftime, the Ambassadors’ point production dried up during a third period ruled by the Quakers, 21-5, and from there Charter cruised to the finish.
The game-high belonged to Fox, with 21 points, while Matthews wound up with seven points and the Quakers marked down six apiece for Napoleon, Webb and freshman guard Alexis Hnatkowsky. Bodine got 10 points each from Garvin and Mitchell.
With a total of 36 points in the two tournament games, Fox earned MVP honors, and she was joined on the All-Tournament Team by her PC classmate, Matthews. The other all-stars were Germantown Friends’ Mankoff, Garvin (Bodine), and Cole (Indian Creek).