Germantown Academy junior Leena Kardacz (with ball) looks past Central Dauphin’s Mia Buchanon (#2) for a cutter in the paint, while freshman teammate Alexa Naessens (left) provides an option on the perimeter. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Germantown Academy junior Leena Kardacz (with ball) looks past Central Dauphin’s Mia Buchanon (#2) for a cutter in the paint, while freshman teammate Alexa Naessens (left) provides an option on the perimeter. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Prior to Monday’s holiday, the Germantown Academy and Penn Charter basketball teams were at work last Sunday, appearing in the 9th Annual Blue Star Elite Invitational Tournament. Staged at Radnor’s Cabrini College, the gathering was not a tournament featuring a progressive bracket, but a prescheduled showcase that matched up teams that would not tend to face one another in normal circumstances.

Neither contest was close, as GA (13-4 overall) steamrolled Central Dauphin High School (4-8) by a score of 65-40, while Penn Charter (11-7) fell to Central Bucks West (15-1), 77-46. In a Southeastern Pennsylvania poll, C.B. West is ranked third, and the GA Patriots are fourth. West is coached by former GA assistant Terry Rakowsky, and one of his assistants is former Mount St. Joseph standout Claire Perry.

For Germantown Academy, last week was the first week back from a trip to New Orleans, where the Patriots went 2-1 in the Sugar Bowl Classic, losing only to 2014 Louisiana state runner-up Destrehan High. In a pair of Inter-Ac League games last Tuesday and Friday, GA rolled past Springside Chestnut Hill at home, 66-37, then won a road game at Notre Dame, 46-40. The Patriots’ lone senior, guard Olivia Gorman, put up 23 points against SCH, then netted 15 on Friday against Notre Dame, which took 10 points off its deficit in the fourth quarter.

PC had played two Inter-Ac road games earlier in the week, starting out by flattening Agnes Irwin on Tuesday, 42-14, behind 28 points from junior guard Hannah Fox. A team that Irwin had beaten in a previous league encounter, Springside Chestnut Hill, nipped Penn Charter at the last second on Friday, 41-39. Fox had 14 points and sophomore teammate Alexis Hnatkowsky had 13 in that contest.

PC junior guard Ayanna Matthews missed both of those league bouts, suffering from an infected knee.

Central Dauphin, located in Harrisburg, spent a few seasons in the spotlight when its team was led by Alyssa Thomas, who went on to the University of Maryland (’14) and the WNBA. In last Sunday’s Blue Star appearance, the Lady Rams briefly held the lead at 5-4, and then it was all GA, as the Patriots rolled to a 21-8 advantage at the quarter and didn’t let up. When play paused at halftime, the Pats were ahead 39-12 and Gorman already had 18 points in the book.

After that, it was simply a question of plodding through the final 16 minutes as the Patriots emptied their bench onto the court. Another great Gorman effort netted the senior a game-high 24 points, and in high single-figures were sophomore Abby Starzecky, with nine points, and junior Kendall Grasela (seven steals, six assists), with eight. Erin Lindahl put up six points and her 11th-grade classmate Lauren Oeth scored five points and seized 10 rebounds and seven steals.

In the next game, Penn Charter and C.B. West fouled furiously. The Bucks rang up nine personals in the opening period, allowing PC to stay somewhat in contention thanks to seven-for-eight free throw shooting. Matthews had returned to the starting line-up for the Quakers, but was not back to full effectiveness.

After the first quarter concluded at 18-10 in favor of West, the foul situation began to reverse itself, and in period two the Doylestown team netted 17 points on 18 free throws. The Bucks pulled away to a 41-21 halftime advantage even though Michigan signee Nicole Munger spent a few minutes on the bench after picking up her third personal.

The tally was 62-36 at the three-quarter mark, and West went on to win by 31 points. One of the Bucks fouled out of the game in the final period, and PC lost two players in the same manner. With 17 points, Fox edged out the Bucks’ two Division I signees for game-high honors; Munger finished with 16 and Mackenzie Carroll (Colgate) had 14.

Sophomore forward Mireyah Davis of Penn Charter made it into double digits with 11 points, while none of the other Quakers scored more than five.