by Tom Utescher
Back in late November, the Penn Charter girls came on strong in the fourth quarter to overcome the visiting Phoenix of Friends Central, 47-30. When the Quakers hosted FC again last Wednesday in an opening round game in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament, it was a huge early surge that set Charter up for the victory.
Dominating the first quarter and then continuing on to a 31-6 lead early in the second period, PC then was gradually reeled in the by the visitors. The home crowd grew a bit anxious as the Phoenix pulled within nine points with 70 seconds left (48-39), but the Quakers were able to hold their guests to one final field goal while shooting six-for-eight from the foul line.
The 54-41 win lifted the eighth-seeded Quakers into a clash with number one Germantown Academy while raising their overall record to 13-15. Friends Central, seeded ninth for the PAIS tournament, ended its season at 10-13.
Sophomore Carmen Williams recorded 14 of her game-high 23 points during Penn Charter’s early outburst. Her classmate Kait Carter also did much of her scoring in the first half and finished with 13 points. The Quakers received nine points and 10 rebounds from sophomore Hayley Hunt, three points and eight rebounds from freshman Kaitlyn Hnatkowski and six points from fellow 10th-grader India Barnes.
Carter canned the first field goal of the game from out on the three-point arc, and then added a lay-up and a foul shot while Hunt chipped in with a made free throw. Williams got going with a trey and a lay-up, and when Barnes was fouled on a successful drive and made her free throw, PC led 15-0.
Friends Central didn’t get on the board until Zoe Shoemaker scored in transition almost five minutes into the action, and the Quakers were up 24-6 at the quarter.
The second period began with Williams hitting a fast-break lay-up and then scoring twice off of steals. She also added a point when awarded a foul shot on the third of these plays, so the hosts now held a 31-6 advantage with just over a minute elapsed in round number two.
After that, though, the Quakers would not score a field goal for 11 minutes. During this drought from the floor, Carter and Hunt each hit two free throws. A lay-up by Hunt and a trey by William resuscitated the Charter offense just after the midpoint of the third quarter, but the Phoenix, who had trailed 33-12 at halftime, gained a little ground in the third stanza, which ended with a 42-25 tally.
For three minutes or so in the fourth frame, the teams traded points to bring the score up to 46-29. The Phoenix then went on a 10-2 run fueled by three interior buckets by 6’2″ post player Raanee Smith and a three-pointer by guard Emma Malone.
During this rally by their guests, the Quakers had seen both Barnes and junior guard Emma Maley foul out of the game. Friends Central was now back within single digits of the leaders, down 48-39 with one minute and 10 seconds remaining.
The Phoenix were still far enough behind where they could not allow PC to take time off the clock, and they sent Carter to the line on a two-shot foul. She picked up both points, then early in the final minute Hnatkowski netted the front end of a one-and-one on the visitors’ ninth team foul.
Shoemaker hit a runner for the Phoenix, but her team wouldn’t score again and was still trailing by 10 points, 51-41. PC’s Williams made one of two free throws, and then with 20 seconds remaining Hunt tossed in two from the stripe as Friends Central’s Smith left the floor with her fifth foul of the afternoon.
She had led her team with 13 points, while Nia Jordan put up 11 and Shoemaker scored nine for the visitors.
UPDATE: Penn Charter’s season ended on Saturday afternoon with a 60-44 loss at Germantown Academy in the PAIS quarterfinals. Maley scored nine points for the Quakers and Carter, Hnatkowsky and Williams had seven points apiece. PC wrapped up the season with a 13-16 mark overall, after going 5-7 in the Inter-Ac League.