Cece McLaughlin (left), a Tigers junior, tries to steal the ball from an ANC guard. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last Friday the girls of Germantown Friends chalked up their second Friends Schools League victory in three days, travelling to the Academy of the New Church and easily overcoming the host Lions, 31-8.

In another road game on Wednesday, the GFS Tigers had broken through for their first FSL victory, edging George School, 25-23, getting back to 2-3 in the league after starting out against three of their tougher league opponents.

Back on Tuesday, Germantown had initiated what would become a three-game win streak, bouncing host Perkiomen School, 37-16. Last week’s wins brought the Tigers’ overall season record back up to 6-8.

Second-year head coach Mike Lintulahti related, “In the George School game [senior] Maya Keren hit a lay-up as time expired. Our bench emptied out and all the kids ran onto the floor and got to experience the joy of what that feels like. Sometimes an exciting win like that helps everybody buy in. They see the result of what they’ve been working for in practice, and really understand why I’ve been challenging them.”

It helped lead to a very productive practice session for the Tigers on Thursday. At ANC the following afternoon, GFS did not let the Lions linger around within striking distance, but took control right away in an 11-0 opening quarter. The Tigers would shut out ANC in the fourth quarter, as well.

“We felt we took a step forward, especially on defense, in our game with Westtown one week ago,” Lintulahti said. “We lost the game, but we did much better than last year, when they really handled us. We started to see how we could use our defense to give ourselves a chance, and that helped our confidence. Even when we have offensive droughts, the kids are learning that if we can maintain focus on the defensive end, we’re still in it.”

Keren, who has gained early-action admission to Princeton University, put in a lay-up to open the scoring at ANC, and GFS would lead the rest of the way. The other senior co-captain, Corin Grady (who will play lacrosse at Wesleyan University), reinforced the lead with a three-point field goal from the top of the key.

GFS senior Maya Keren drives along the right baseline. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Grady scored again later in the opening quarter, and the Tigers also got two field goals from the paint by Clare Meyer, a 6’2″ eighth-grader who has been showing progress throughout the season.

A trey by Alaina Brock got Academy of the New Church on the board in the second quarter, but the visitors were still able to maintain a comfortable lead until halftime arrived with a 15-5 tally.

Six points from Grady powered an offensive resurgence by the Tigers in the third frame. They took a 24-8 advantage into the fourth quarter and then were able to employ everybody on the bench as they outscored ANC 7-0 in the final frame.

The two 12th-graders, Grady and Keren, finished with 15 and nine points, respectively.

“We’re getting incredible leadership from our senior captains,” Lintulahti commented, “and they’re working hard to improve their own skills, as well.”

Junior guard Gigi Guida furnished the final two points of the afternoon when she netted a lay-up after a steal. Five points were contributed by the young Meyer, who has a classmate on the varsity squad in guard Martina Kiewek.

Sophomore Cece McLaughlin is a starter at forward for the team, and junior Andy Regli and sophomore Tsega Afessa are part of the regular varsity rotation.

“We don’t have a lot of depth,” Lintulahti noted, “so I’m really happy that our players have kept themselves in great shape. It’s such a pleasure to coach this group of kids.”