GFS junior forward Maddie Berg (with ball) fights through a double-team formed by Barrack Hebrew’s Dria Gutierrez (left) and Lindsay Chevlin. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

GFS junior forward Maddie Berg (with ball) fights through a double-team formed by Barrack Hebrew’s Dria Gutierrez (left) and Lindsay Chevlin. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

After going 1-1 in their first two basketball bouts last week, the girls of Germantown Friends cruised to a 47-18 victory over Barrack Hebrew Academy on Saturday night to end the opening week of their 2014-15 season with a winning record.

Junior point guard Lizzie Becker scored 15 of her game-high 20 points to lead the host Tigers to a 29-8 halftime lead over Barrack, and her backcourt companion, senior Imani Ross, registered eight points for the evening.

On Tuesday of last week, GFS officially launched its season by trekking out to Exton to take on Collegium Charter School. Here also, Becker posted 20 points as the Tigers prevailed in a much closer contest, 38-35. Senior forward Schuyler Alig had a double-digit day, as well, contributing a dozen points to the cause.

Later in the week, the girls’ section of the long-running Germantown Community Tournament at GFS differed from its customary format. One traditional participant, Germantown High School, closed its doors for good a year ago, and Penn Charter, another regular in recent years, migrated to the Peddie School tournament in New Jersey this time around.

Barrack Hebrew and Bodine High School for International Affairs were still game, so the Tigers took on those two teams on Friday and Saturday.

In Friday’s tilt with Bodine, a solid Philadelphia Public League program, Becker chalked up 13 points and junior forward Sunny Reardon scored six, but the Tigers couldn’t contain junior guard Tiana Garvin of the visiting side. She logged a game-high 19 points to help the Lady Ambassadors recover from a three-point deficit at the end of the first quarter and continue on to victory.

First-year GFS head coach Tiffany Davis has taken the helm of a program whose varsity players are evenly distributed across the age spectrum.

“We have three seniors, but we also have a lot of young players on our team,” she noted. “Everybody’s working hard in this early part of the season to get ready for our league games.”

The senior tri-captains are Alig, Ross, and forward Julia Mankoff. There are four juniors, three sophomores, and three freshmen on the roster. GFS lost three forwards from the 2013-14 varsity squad; Rachel Allison and Caroline Myran have graduated, and one of last year’s underclassmen chose not to come out for her senior season.

Many girls basketball fans from Northwest Philadelphia and its suburbs will recognize one of the coaches alongside Davis on the sidelines. New GFS assistant Misha Horsey was the all-time career assist leader at Cheltenham High School and was co-captain of the Panthers’ 2007 PIAA state championship team. She went on to a successful college career at New York’s Stony Brook University.

After splitting their first two games last week, Davis saw her squad slip behind Barrack at the outset, when Talia Raikin got the visitors on the board with a short bank shot in the opening minute. The Cougars’ moment of glory was precisely that – a moment – as Becker hit the first three GFS field goals of the night and the Tigers went on to finish the opening quarter with a 14-2 advantage. Early in the second round, the score climbed to 20-2 before Barrack scored again.

Germantown was up 29-8 at the half, and after sending her starters out for the beginning of the third quarter, Davis quickly withdrew them after a few baskets. It was apparent there was going to be no miracle comeback for the visitors from Bryn Mawr.

“Tonight we were able to play a lot of players who don’t always get into the games,” Davis said. “We want to give them a chance to gain some confidence.”

Although everyone played for the Tigers, they still outscored the Cougars in each of the last two quarters. Following Becker and Ross on the stat sheet were sophomore guard Lilly Dupuis with five points, and Reardon, with four. GFS received two points apiece from Alig, Mankoff, junior forward Phoebe Altenhofen, and freshman guards Corin Grady and Maya Keren.

The Cougars had Raikin and Gavi Weitzman score eight and four points, respectively, while Lindsay Chevlin, Tali Glickman, and Dria Gutierrez each contributed two points.

Asked if she foresees her team playing a particular style of basketball, Coach Davis responded, “We’re definitely looking to be a very defense-minded team. We’ll be doing a lot of trapping, pressing, and things like that. We’re looking to be as strong as we were last year and be a playoff team, and try to go even a little further.”

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