by Tom Utescher
In Phoenix, Arizona, Penn Charter’s girls’ basketball team won the championship in the Derrel Kipp division at the 22nd annual Nike Tournament of Champions last weekend. More than 100 teams from around the nation participated, competing in 16-team brackets.
As noted on the Local’s website last week, the Quakers opened up with victories over Colorado’s Eaglecrest High School (56-20) and Arizona’s Chaparrals High School (51-34) in their round of 16 and quarterfinal games.
In Friday’s semifinal against another Arizona high school, Highland, PC gained some separation during a 15-9 third quarter and won, 53-49. Junior guards Carmen Williams and Kait Carter scored 23 and 17 points, respectively.
In Saturday’s championship contest, Charter led, 32-27, going into the fourth quarter against Pinnacle High School, which is located right in Phoenix. With a strong start in the final period, the Pioneers caught up with the Quakers at 32-all.
After PC edged ahead once more, a three-pointer by Williams extended the lead to six points. When Pinnacle had to start fouling to preserve time on the clock by sending Charter to the free throw line, Quakers eighth-grader Kelsey Bess made four foul shots to help cement the victory.
A balanced scoring attack featured 14 points from Carter (11 rebounds), 13 from Williams (five rebounds), 11 from fellow junior Hayley Hunt and eight points, four rebounds and four assists by senior point guard Emma Maley.
Williams, who had put up 10 points against Eaglecrest and eight against Chaparrals, averaged 13.5 points per game in the tourney and was named MVP.
The four victories in Phoenix raised Penn Charter’s record to 12-2; the day before leaving for Arizona, the Quakers won their Inter-Ac League season opener over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
“It was a successful trip in more than just the basketball,” PC head coach Joe Maguire said. “The girls enjoyed themselves and everybody got along well.”
Nevertheless, Maguire was happy to get back home, since he and his wife are expecting a new baby very shortly.