Basketball can be a humbling game.
Germantown Academy’s boys team had won three straight games by an average of 26.3 points against Public League teams and was rolling coming into its Inter-Ac League opener with visiting Malvern Prep last Friday night.
But then reality smacked the Patriots upside the head. After an early tie, the Friars converted nine of 15 shots from beyond the arc and steadily pulled away, handing GA a 69-42 setback.
“Some nights we’ve had trouble starting our first quarters a bit slow,” Patriots senior co-captain Jake Hsu said. “I don’t think tonight was necessarily a slow start, but we definitely didn’t throw the first punch there in the first quarter. They were grabbing the offensive boards and that killed us. In the second quarter, they hit two or three 3's, kind of put us down by 17, and it’s tough to come back from that.”
Although excuses are usually not acceptable to an athlete or a team, there were extenuating circumstances with an upward of five players affected by COVID, possibly leading to a negative outcome for GA .
“I think it always comes down to practice,” Hsu said. “The last two weeks, we had a bunch of COVID issues. Yesterday was the first time in practice we really had the whole team. So I’m definitely not concerned about this.
“As a senior leader, I have to keep the energy up at all times,” Hsu said. “Even when we were down at the half, I have to try to keep my teammates’ confidence up. It’s an important thing because if our confidence goes down, we’re not going to do anything.”
With Hsu leading the way, don’t expect GA’s confidence to ebb too many times this season.
— Joe Fite
Archbishop Wood's biggest cheerleader is also their top scorer
The outcome of Archbishop Wood's game against Archbishop Ryan had long since been decided when sophomore Lauren Greer buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer ending the first half. The basket, for all intents and purposes, was meaningless in a game with the mercy rule already in effect.
That hardly mattered to Ryanne Allen. The senior captain leaped off the bench with her arms raised and was the first to greet Greer as she came off the court.
“In these games, the other kids being able to get in and play and have their moment, it’s special, and you have to celebrate that,” Allen said. “I just wanted to make it special for them.”
Secondary to Allen was the fact that this was a night to celebrate her milestone — reaching the 1,000-point plateau, a feat she accomplished when she buried a 3-pointer in the Vikings 63-43 win over Norview at the Boo Williams Classic in Virginia on Dec. 29.
“That’s who Ryanne Allen is,” Wood coach Mike McDonald said. “She comes out and plays the game at a high level, she competes really hard, and she’s always one of the biggest cheerers on the bench. That’s why there’s so many people on our team and in our program and in our school that love rooting for her because that’s who she is, that’s how she treats other people.
“It’s beyond the basketball. I’ve actually known Ryanne since fourth grade, and that’s what makes it so great to have her. Every day in the gym is a blessing, she’s just great to be around, always positive. She’s just a special person.”
While reaching the milestone was a goal for Allen, it was never all-consuming.
“I knew if it was going to happen, it was going to happen,” the Wood senior said. “I wasn’t stressing over it. I knew the time would come, and it did in Virginia.
"It was just a special moment and making it so much better was being able to share that moment with the group of people I came in with. Having Shannon [Morgan] and Bri [Bowen] by my side during it and just being able to be around people who supported me and I supported them made that moment special. It was awesome.”
— Mary Jane Souder
Golden Bears don't take any game for granted
It’s been an unusual season for the Upper Moreland girls basketball team, and the Golden Bears can’t be blamed if they can’t keep their schedule straight. Since Dec. 17, five of their games were postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.
“In the beginning, there’s frustration because everything gets moved around,” UM junior EmmyFaith Wood said. “But coach keeps reminding us of the mentality – it’s worse for the other team when we get more time to practice and more time to prepare for them.”
On Jan. 10, the Golden Bears played only their second game since Dec. 21 when they took on New Hope-Solebury in a SOL Freedom Division showdown.
One to watch: Jordan Garrison knows how to make people pay attention
“Coach keeps saying to be grateful because we don’t know which game could be our last,” sophomore Holly Gohl said. “We have to keep that in mind when we’re playing. Sometimes when you win by a lot, it’s hard to play like it could be your last. We just always have to play to our full (potential).”
“We have to take every game like it’s the biggest one,” Wood said. “We can’t take any for granted, and we have to be grateful for each win. I think sometimes you can take that for granted if you get on a roll, but you have to stay hungry and keep getting after it.”
The Golden Bears, who shared the division title with the Lions last season, took a two-game lead in the division standings with a 56-24 win over the Lions. Wood (22 points) and Gohl (16 points) were the catalysts.
— Mary Jane Souder
Stats of the week: Ponnam, Casey drop 30 points
George School freshman Priyanka Ponnam delivered a huge game for the Cougars in their Friends Schools League game against Moorestown Friends.
Ponnam scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the 62-52 win, and followed that with another double-double on Saturday, tallying 20 points and 10 rebounds against Morrisville (68-28).
Lansdale Catholic's Gabby Casey exploded for 30 points as the Crusaders overpowered Bonner-Prendergast, 75-51, in Tuesday’s PCL opener.
Casey broke 30 points in all three of the Crusaders’ games that week, putting up 36 points in a win over West Catholic (68-34), and 30 in Saturday’s win against Neshaminy (52-35).
Noah Lee, Central Bucks West: Scored 22 points to propel the Bucks to victory Saturday’s non-league win.
Evan McNeely, Pennsbury: He had another big game for the Falcons, shooting 60 percent from the floor and leading all scorers with 21 points in a 75-52 victory over Holy Ghost Prep. McNeely was a perfect 8-for-8 effort at the foul line and 10 rebounds with three assists, two steals and one block.
Michael Farley, Central Bucks South: Farley had 14 points to lead the Titans to victory over Downingtown East 69-46 Saturday.
Matt Campione, Pennridge: He had nine first-half points and finished a perfect 6-for-6 at the foul line. Campone finished with 15 points but Haverford defeated Pennridge 50-44 on Saturday.
Derrius Lucas, Abington: Came off the bench to score 25 points, connecting on a blistering 12-of-14 shots, to lead the Ghosts in a high-scoring win against Lower Moreland (76-65).
Aaron Sanders and Jeremy Rodriguez, Bensalem: Scored 21 points apiece in the Owls’ 66-38 win over CB East, as two of the SOL’s top teams dueled on Tuesday.
Ryan Deininger, North Penn: He hit the game-winning shot with two seconds remaining and his team down by a point to give the Knights a thrilling 51-50 win over Council Rock South. Deininger, who finished with 12 points, was one of four Knights in double digits, along with Terhan Wright (13 points), Ryan Zeltt (13 points) and Milind Pulugura (10 points).
Abril Bowser, Abington: Scored 22 points as the Ghosts bounced back from a 13-point first-quarter deficit to top Governor Mifflin, 71-67, on Saturday
Elise Duffy, Central Bucks East: Scored 22 points to power the Patriots past Bensalem (61-53), snapping a three-game losing streak.
Kyliyah Carmichael, Conwell-Egan: Led the Eagles with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, seven rebounds, four assists, and four blocks in a PCL win against Little Flower (54-27)
Lola Ibarrondo, Neshaminy: Led the way with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists — all team highs — to lead Neshaminy past North Penn (55-43).
Abby Plaugher, North Penn: Scored 26 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead the Knights over Council Rock South (62-48) on Thursday. Plaugher scored 15 of her points in the first half, staking the Knights to a 10-point halftime lead.
Melissa Hanejko contributed to this report.
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This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Montco basketball: Latest news, top performers, stat of the week