Germantown Friends School’s Peter Gard barrels through a handful of GAMP defenders on Saturday. Gard drew a foul and sunk both free throws en route to an 18-point performance in the Tigers’ blowout win. (Photo by Jonathan Vander Lugt)

by Jonathan Vander Lugt

It can be tough to parse meaning out of a game like Germantown Friends School’s 71-26 win over the Girard Academic Music Program.

The Tigers, from the jump, were clearly the better team. Often, it felt not only like GAMP was overmatched, but as though GFS belonged in a completely different weight class. Every time Shawn Werdt’s starting five hit the floor, the scoring margin increased almost exponentially. The Pioneers struggled even to keep pace with GFS’ second team.

There was no struggle or real adversity for GFS, as it took six and a half minutes for GAMP to even get on the board, and the Tigers ended the first frame with an 18-2 advantage. At the half; 45-15. The third quarter closed with a 64-20 GFS lead.

“The kids played a bit loose, and our guys made some shots,” Werdt said. “It was nice to see our second five get out there, get some nice minutes and do some positive things…they played confidently.”

It was a good way for the Tigs to come back after dropping a hard one to Westtown Friday. There, the Friends League power beat GFS 58-34.

“We were a little outclassed there, and it was good to turn the page,” Werdt said. “The kids are confident in their roles and they know what it takes to win a game.”

Senior guard Peter Gard led GFS with 18, on the strength of a nine-for-nine clinic from the charity stripe as well as a trio of treys. Pietro Berghella and Nolan Grady chipped in with 12 and 11, respectively, while a total of nine Tigers found the hoop.

“My three-point shooting is probably the strongest aspect of my game,” Gard said, “but I give credit to Isaac Myrin – most of my threes come off of assists from him. He finds me in open spots and allows me to do what I do best.”

So far, the senior is leading the team with an average of just under 16 points per game.

“As a team, we’ve really gotten more disciplined in our offense,” Gard said. “That’s really been our strength the last few years, and it’s what’s allowed us to compete… [Today,] we executed really well. We played well as a team, and it was a good confidence booster for us.”

Since starting the year in an 0-4 hole, GFS has crawled back to 8-7 with the meat of its conference slate ahead of it. Despite the loss to Westtown, the Tigs are off to a good start with wins over Moorestown Friends and Abington Friends.

“We’ve gotten closer as a team, and started to understand our strengths,” Gard said. “Everything’s clicking a lot better recently…[the rough start] was a reality check, and we had to figure out what we really were. I think it took those games to do so. It helped us figure out what our identity was. Pietro and I met with the team a couple times and told everyone that we don’t lose games like that, and I think that really helped.”

Up next for GFS is back-to-back conference challenges against the George School and the Academy of the New Church on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

“I like where we’re at moving into the last few weeks of the season,” Werdt said. “We were banged up to start the year, we were still figuring out what our limitations were and who does what well. That takes time.”

Gard agreed.

“We’ve just gotten better and better as a team,” Gard said. “The younger guys really realized that there needed to be a culture change…we’re a really disciplined team that works really hard to do things well. We try to execute, outclass and outhustle other teams, and I think that’s our identity.”

It seems like he and his Tigers have done a pretty good job of that. Every game going forward will likely be more challenging than Saturday’s, but if the resolve they’ve shown over the past month of basketball is any indication, GFS is unlikely to disappoint.