The Germantown Friends girls traveled to Bucks County last Tuesday to take on a George School hoops squad that is aiming to move up out of the middle of the pack in the Friends Schools League.
The Germantown Friends girls traveled to Bucks County last Tuesday to take on a George School hoops squad that is aiming to move up out of the middle of the pack in the Friends Schools League and into the top tier. The host Cougars only led 8-4 at the close of a low-scoring first quarter, but they pulled away after that to record a 42-17 victory.
George School made a significant commitment to its girls' basketball program with the hiring of La'Keisha Sutton, now in her second season as head coach. As a high schooler in Trenton she was named New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year. She was an early recruit of Coach Dawn Staley at the University of South Carolina, and continued to play after college, including a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Having put some of the top teams from other leagues around the Philadelphia area on their schedule, Sutton's Cougars came into last Tuesday's FSL bout with an overall record of 9-9 and a league mark of 2-2. Germantown Friends arrived at 8-5 and 1-2 in the Friends League. A key senior for the Tigers, Ndaia Blakney, had broken a bone in her wrist in the middle of December and was still out of action.
None of the GFS players come up to the six-foot mark, so the Tigers were facing a vertical challenge in a George School squad which started three players ranging from 6'2" to 6'5". Also on the Cougars' roster are two new arrivals who previously attended Germantown Academy, Basha Harrington, a 5'11" junior, and her sister Sylvie, a six-foot freshman.
After going out to a 4-0 lead, George School lost some ballhandling prowess about 90 seconds into the game when point guard Sophia Martinez picked up her second personal foul and retired to the bench for a spell. She would reappear to record a game-high 11 points, seven of them coming in the second half.
Two minutes into the contest, GFS got on the scoreboard with senior Sydney Dixon's three-pointer from the right wing. Later on, fellow 12th-grader Caroline Putnam made one of two free throws for the visitors, producing a score of 8-4 at the end of the quarter. The Cougars often looked off-balance when shooting, which held down their total.
George School gained a little more ground in the second quarter to lead 19-9 at the intermission, then really broke away during a 15-0 third quarter. Among the Cougar "bigs," 6'3" sophomore Priyanka Ponnam impressed with good agility and ballhandling for her size. On the open floor, the Harrington siblings showed hustle on defense.
George School could afford to operate in maintenance mode in the fourth quarter, with each team adding eight points.
Even in this fairly lopsided loss, there was something admirable in the way the GFS players carried themselves. Faced with long odds, they didn't become dispirited, but kept playing hard while absorbing the solid instruction provided by their coach, Mike Lintulahti.
Putnam and sophomore Mia Rutledge finished with four points apiece, and the Tigers got three points each from Dixon and fellow senior Caroline Schure. Rounding out the Tigers' total were two points from Katie Day and one from Alayah Campbell, both sophomores.
George School backed up Martinez's efforts with 10 points from Ponnam, eight from 6'5" Gianna Johnson, and six from Sylvie Harrington. Ellie Remus added three points, and Basha Harrington and Joslyn Brutus each scored two.