Germantown Academy doubled down on staking its claim to the Inter-Ac driver’s seat on Thursday, capturing a 68-50 win at Penn Charter in dominant fashion. With just two weeks and three to four games remaining for each team, the Patriots hold a game-and-a-half lead over the Quakers, their biggest challenger for the league crown to date. With its second convincing win over its rival this year, GA controls its own destiny down the stretch, just the way head coach Sherri Retif’s team likes it.
Even as the league title picture comes into clearer focus as we enter the home stretch, all seven teams continue to compete hard day in and day out. The rosters are full of talented players who have worked hard all season, regardless of where they sit in the standings. With time running out on the season, each head coach in the Inter-Ac was asked to highlight a player on his or her team who has been an unsung hero during the 2019-20 campaign. Some players serve different roles than just being a team’s leading scorer, the adhesive that helps keep things together during a long season that will definitely present its shares of ups and downs.
Here’s an up-to-date look at where teams stand as the calendar hits February, and some of those players they wouldn’t have gotten here without:
Record: 19-4 overall, 8-0 Inter-Ac
Last week: 68-50 win at Penn Charter (1/30); 35-30 win at Notre Dame (1/28); 66-64 loss vs. Neumann-Goretti (1/26)
Remaining schedule: at Episcopal (2/1); vs. Baldwin (2/4); vs. Agnes Irwin (2/7); 2/11 vs. SCH (2/11)
As the Patriots showed Thursday at Penn Charter, they have a lot of different ways to beat teams.
Eight different players scored against the Quakers and all contributed in a variety of ways. GA wouldn’t have reached this point atop the mountain without a deep, balanced and experienced roster.
One of those players who has been an integral part of the team’s successful run this season is senior Caitlyn Priore. Priore, averaging five rebounds per game this season, pulled down 14 boards against the Quakers and helped her team dominate the glass.
Germantown Academy senior Caitlyn Priore (photo Geanine Jamison for PSD).
“A lot of our success can be attributed to the consistency and defensive intensity of Caitlyn Priore,” Retif said. “She missed her entire junior year due to an ACL tear, so it has been great having her back as a starter in this program. She’s a point forward who has excellent court vision, speed and has an unselfish passing game.”
Record: 20-3, 7-2
Last week: 68-50 loss vs. GA (1/30); 68-18 win at SCH (1/28); 61-52 win vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (1/26); 71-12 win at Agnes Irwin (1/24)
Remaining schedule: at Baldwin (2/1); vs. Notre Dame (2/4); vs. Episcopal (2/11)
The Quakers may have stumbled against their rival on Thursday, but the team has one of its best seasons in ages, winning 20 of its 23 games with a blend of experienced veterans and rising underclassmen.
One of those unheralded veterans is senior India Barnes, an all-league soccer player who is one of the respected “glue girls” on the Penn Charter roster. Barnes isn’t one of the team’s leading scorers, but she impacts the Quakers’ success in different, equally meaningful ways.
“India is essential to our team’s success,” Quakers head coach Joe Maguire said. “She’s a very good shooter, and I wish she would shoot more. She really understands our offense and where she can find shots within it. Defensively, she is so smart and anticipates things so well. She can cover multiple positions on the floor.”
Penn Charter senior India Barnes (photo Zamani Feelings )
Record: 10-7, 6-3
Last week: 48-16 win vs. SCH (1/30); 56-16 win vs. Agnes Irwin (1/28); 53-45 win vs. Baldwin (1/24)
Remaining schedule: vs. GA (2/1); vs. Notre Dame (2/7); at Penn Charter (2/11)
Episcopal has been playing better and better as the season has progressed, with head coach Chuck Simmonds’ team winners of three straight. The team features one of the most balanced rosters in the league, and is a perfect epitome of being the sum of its overall parts.
To have success in a rugged league like the Inter-Ac, teams need confident, strong leaders, and Episcopal boasts one name in particular who has really contributed to the big step forward the program has taken in 2019-20: senior captain Cara Harty.
In the team’s Senior Day win over Agnes Irwin, Harty knocked down three three-pointers en route to a 13-point performance, the type of game that has earned her major respect up and down the roster
Episcopal Academy senior captain Cara Harty (photo by Geanine Jamison for PSD)
“Cara has been a key component to the growth of EA as a program this year,” Simmonds said. “As a captain, she’s helped create a positive atmosphere around the team that has resonated with our younger players. As a group, they have supported each other, and that helps us through some of the tougher spots so we can continue working to get better. Cara has contributed on the court with her defensive effort, spot shooting and guard support.”
ACADEMY OF NOTRE DAME
Record: 15-6, 5-3
Last week: 39-35 win vs. Baldwin (1/30); 35-30 loss vs. GA (1/28); 64-45 loss vs. Spring-Ford (1/26); 46-25 win at SCH (1/24)
Remaining schedule: vs. Agnes Irwin (1/31); at Penn Charter (2/4); at Episcopal (2/7); vs. SCH (2/12)
It’s been a very accomplished season for the Irish, as head coach Lauren Thomer’s team has won 15 of its 21 games to date and sits right in the middle of the league standings.
One of the players who has been vital to the Irish’s success is junior guard Izzy Casale, affectionately known as “Mighty Mouse” to Thomer. Casale gets her results by pure grit, scrappiness and determination, having no issue when her team needs to get her hands dirty by playing lockdown defense on much bigger opposing players. What Casale lacks in size she makes up for in fierce competitiveness.
Notre Dame junior guard Izzy Casale (photo Academy of Notre Dame Athletics)
Casale missed the team’s loss to Spring-Ford on Jan. 26 due to a possible concussion, and Thomer firmly believes the team would not have been saddled with a 19-point loss if it had its Mighty Mouse in the fold.
“I can say with certainty that one is a different ballgame and possibly a different outcome if we have her for that game,” Thomer said. “We missed out on her relentless defense, energy and spark. She is the glue to our success.”
Record: 8-9, 2-6
Last week: 39-35 loss at Notre Dame (1/30); 48-29 win vs. Radnor (1/26); 53-45 loss at Episcopal (1/24)
Remaining schedule: vs. Penn Charter (2/1); at GA (2/4); at Hill School (2/5); at SCH (2/7); at Agnes Irwin (2/11)
It’s been a bit of an uneven season in the win-loss department for second-year head coach John Bernhardt’s team; that said, Bernhardt can’t hide his excitement for the future of his program.
That’s because Baldwin will bring almost its entire team back next season, headlined by its dangerous scoring triumvirate of juniors Taylor Levinson and Anajah Brown and sophomore Kaya Weiser. Additionally, the team is armed with sophomore Gabi Pritzker and freshmen Megan Adelman, Grace Brunetto, Grace Colucci and Anushka Joshi, all of whom bring something to the table in shaping the future of the program.
Baldwin School's Allie Weiser (photo courtesy Baldwin Athletics)
Not to be outdone by the rest of her young teammates, eighth grader Allie Weiser was Bernhardt’s pick to shine a spotlight on. Weiser is already the first player off Baldwin’s bench and even earned some starting minutes earlier this season when Levinson was sidelined with a concussion.
“What Allie has done for us this year cannot be measured on paper,” Bernhardt said. “She is the epitome of a spark coming off the bench because of her ability to defend and rebound. She is constantly fighting for offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive and understands when she comes in she needs to get stops defensively. The fact that she is only in eighth grade makes it that much more impressive.”
SPRINGSIDE CHESTNUT HILL ACADEMY
Record: 4-14, 1-7
Last week: 48-16 loss at Episcopal (1/30); 68-18 loss vs. Penn Charter (1/28); 55-22 loss vs. Pennsbury (1/26); 46-25 loss vs. Notre Dame (1/24)
Remaining schedule: at Agnes Irwin (2/4); vs. Baldwin (2/7); at GA (2/11); at Notre Dame (2/12)
The Blue Devils have one of the youngest teams in the Inter-Ac, so the 2019-20 campaign has been full of learning experiences for the team’s plethora of underclassmen. When you’re as young as SCH is, you need a strong, experienced leader, and that’s what head coach Flo Hagains has in senior Rebecca Arnold.
Arnold is the only senior on SCH’s roster, constantly leading by example in games and during practice to ensure the younger players have a role model to look up to.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy senior defender Becca Arnold (photo by Zamani Feeling for PSD)
Hagains has coached Arnold for four seasons, the last two on varsity and the two prior to that at the JV level, and the coach knows life without Arnold will not be the same next season. That being said, any future success the Blue Devils earn will be in large part due to Arnold’s tireless contributions to the program.
“Rebecca is such a great team player and leader on the court,” Hagains said. “She is always supporting and helpful to the younger girls, making sure they are giving their all. Rebecca is one of my top defenders and has found confidence on the offensive end as well. There is a big difference when she is not on the floor. Some may not know it, but her main sport is softball; however, her work ethic remains the same. She pushes me as a coach on a daily basis, and I love her for that. Rebecca is my unsung hero.”
Record: 3-14, 0-8
Last week: 56-16 loss at Episcopal (1/28); 43-14 loss at Sacred Heart (1/25); 71-12 loss vs. Penn Charter (1/24)
Remaining schedule: at Notre Dame (1/31); vs. SCH (2/4); at GA (2/7); vs. Baldwin (2/11)
Paige Crowther’s top sport is lacrosse, and the junior at Agnes Irwin is already committed to continue her career in that sport at the University of Oregon. However, on the basketball court, Crowther has been indispensable to head coach Andrea Carter’s team.
Agnes Irwin junior guard Paige Crowther (photo Zamani Feelings for PSD).
Like SCH, Agnes Irwin is extremely young, so to have a leader like Crowther on board showing the rest of the players the right way to do things is incredibly valuable. A forward/center, Crowther is only in her third year of playing basketball, but you’d never know it by watching what she brings to the table for the Owls on a daily basis.
“Paige brings the Division-I mentality, attitude and work ethic to every part of her life,” Carter said. “She’s an incredible leader who communicates very well. Paige always guards the other team’s best player and is our floor general on defense. Her game now, compared to when she first started, is like night and say. All of her hard work is paying off for her and our team. Paige just wants to contribute in whatever way she can. She leads by example and is an extension of the coaching staff. She gives 110 percent on the floor and her work ethic is contagious. We would not have had the wins or success we have had this year without her.”