Sophomore guard Kara Kniezewski lines up a three-point shot for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Sophomore guard Kara Kniezewski lines up a three-point shot for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Three area girls basketball teams swept a total of four games in the final week of competition in the high school summer league at Gwynedd Mercy Academy. Germantown Academy cruised past Pennridge High School (56-27) and Jenkintown High (59-38) last week, while Penn Charter dispatched Jenkintown, 58-31. In a more dramatic contest, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy rallied down the stretch to edge Perkiomen Valley High School, 36-35.

In one of the earlier games on Tuesday evening, GA lacked several star performers but still had enough firepower to pound Pennridge High School, 56-27. In the first half saavy shot selection and execution resulted in nine-for-nine shooting from the floor by three of the Patriots’ principal players.

Senior forward Lilly Bolen was five-for-five, while two guards, senior Abby Starzecky and freshman Maddie Burns, were each two-for-two on field goal attempts. Burns will be a new student at GA, having starred for Norwood Fontbonne Academy as a grade school athlete.

Germantown led from the get-go and Pennridge was unable to mount a serious comeback attempt at any stage of the game. Bolen’s excellent all-round effort yielded 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Starzecky came away with seven points and the young Burns turned in six points, five boards, and four assists. Junior guard Cat Polisano, who missed some of the early summer games due to injury, registered 11 points, four rebounds, and five steals in this convincing decision over the Rams.

Penn Charter freshman Kate Carter (left) blocks access to the basket while her senior teammate Lexi Hnatkowsky (#20) wrestles a rival player for the ball.  (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Penn Charter freshman Kate Carter (left) blocks access to the basket while her senior teammate Lexi Hnatkowsky (#20) wrestles a rival player for the ball. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Taking the court just after this lopsided contest, Springside Chestnut Hill finished out its Gwynedd League schedule with a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Perkiomen Valley.

SCH earned an early 15-9 lead, but then faltered as Perk Valley came back with the help of a strong performance on the offensive boards. The Vikings then controlled the game up through the middle of the second half, leading by double digits at 28-17 with eight minutes left to play.

The Blue Devils brought the gap back down into single figures, and there was a time-out with 20.2 ticks remaining after sophomore Kara Kniezewski (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy grad) netted a field goal from beyond the three-point line. This made it a one-point affair at 34-35, and Perk Valley was unable to reinforce its lead when it received a late foul call, missing the front end of a one-and-one with eight seconds to go.

The clock was down to two seconds when the Vikings fouled SCH’s Joelle Bridges, a junior transfer coming in from Mastery Charter. Bridges bagged both shots to clinch a dramatic 36-35 victory for the locals.

Kniezewski finished with seven points, and the high scorer for the Blue Devils was junior transfer Nya Searight, who rang up an even dozen. Searight previously attended John W. Hallahan High School in Center City, where she was a standout in both basketball and softball.

That concluded Springside Chestnut Hill’s summer season, and the following night, Wednesday, GA finished up. Polisano had another noteworthy performance as she led the Patriots over Jenkintown High School, 59-38.

With great depth in its program overall, Germantown was rarely wanting for numbers during the summer campaign, even when groups of girls left town temporarily for major club tournaments. On Wednesday the Patriots had a dozen girls arrive to play at Gwynedd, and this turned out to be twice as many as Jenkintown, one of the smallest suburban public high schools in the Philadelphia region.

Jenkintown usually plays with pluck, though, and the Ducks were able to keep pace with the Pats up to 10-10 in GA’s summer league swansong. Eventually, the GA girls dialed up their focus on defense, which led to a more productive transition offense and more made shots.

Senior forward Lilly Bolen has been a mainstay for Germantown Academy throughout the 2016 summer campaign. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Senior forward Lilly Bolen has been a mainstay for Germantown Academy throughout the 2016 summer campaign. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

It soon became apparent that Jenkintown didn’t really have the personnel to match up with Bolen down low, and once the Patriots took command of the situation their enthusiastic young reserves made sure they didn’t lose control after that.

Germantown Academy finished out the warm weather campaign with an overall record of 8-1. The lone loss, 35-40, came against Lansdale Catholic in a contest on June 21, when five of the Patriots’ projected top six players were missing and the incoming freshmen were still getting used to playing varsity basketball.

In the lone contest of the week for Penn Charter, the Quakers kicked off the final night of competition in the league with a bout against Jenkintown. A successful outcome here would give PC an overall record of 6-3 for the summer sessions at Gwynedd.

As in their Wednesday encounter with GA, the Jenkintown Ducks forged a 10-10 tie during the first half, rallying to counter a strong start by Charter. PC pulled away smartly after that, enjoying a 27-15 advantage by halftime. The Quakers didn’t let up, expanding the gap to 20 points (41-21) midway through the second period.

The victors received a strong effort on the inside from their starting senior forwards, Mireyah Davis (13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists) and Julie Webb (nine points, 11 rebounds). This production in the paint was balanced out by 11 points apiece from senior point guard Lexi Hnatkowsky (four rebounds, four assists) and incoming freshman Kate Carter (six rebounds, three assists).

Sophomore Emma Maley contributed six points and four assists and freshman Carmen Williams recorded five points and two steals. The scoring was rounded out by three points from senior Abby Cohen, a reserve forward.

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