Photos/Videos: Zack Beavers, Rich Flanagan & Allie Riches
By: Marc Narducci
The top five teams in the Friends League made the playoffs. On Friday, Shipley and George School played with the right to meet top seeded Westtown.
No, 3 Academy of the New Church at No, 2 Friends Central, 7 p.m.
On Jan. 9, Friends Central earned a 58-21 home win over ANC. Logyn Greer, Friends Central’s 6-3 junior, who is enjoying a tremendous season, led the winning Phoenix that game with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Nal'La Bennett, a 5-8 junior, contributed 12 points, four rebounds and three assists and 6-1 junior Kaiya Rain Tucker added 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Friends Central has the height advantage and ANC’s best chance would be to get into a transition game and take advantage of its speed, led by the senior Xola Wade (see below).
No. 4 Shipley at No. 1 Westtown, 5:30 p.m.
Shipley earned its way to the semifinal with Friday’s 65-55 win over No. 5 seeded George School. Three players scored in double figures for Shipley – 5-10 junior Mallory Farr led the way with 16, while sophomore guard Taylor Lasky had 15 and eighth grader Cidney Stanfield added 11.
“There are a lot of keys to beating a very talented George School team, but for us I think the big key every night is to fight on the boards, especially with George’s size, we wanted to limit their post plan to as few touches and offensive rebounds as possible,” Shipley coach Ellen Bair said. “We weren’t perfect, but fighting on defense and then sharing the ball on offense, and creating open 3’s for each other, got us to where we wanted to be.”
Westtown won convincingly against Shipley in the first meeting and the three-time defending Friends League champs will be favored to repeat again.
The championship game will be 6:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 9) at La Salle University.
Shipley had a key non-league home win over Springdale Prep. Farr led the way for Shipley with 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Stanfield added 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Shipley sophomore guard Taylor Lasky #12 scored a career-high 24 pts. in win over Abington Friends - PSD Photo by Zack Beavers
In a 71-25 win over Barrack Hebrew Academy, the Gators had 19 assists on 27 field goals made and shot 42 percent from beyond the arc. Eighth grader Halle Newsome led the way with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals.
The Gators then wrapped up Friends League regular season play with wins over Abington Friends and Friends Select.
Against AFS, Lasky scored a career-high 24 points, in addition to contributing five rebounds and four assists. Stanfield had a double-double – 11 points and 11 rebounds. Newsome scored eight points, while junior Anna Pascale had seven points and four assists.
In the win over Friends Select, senior guard Evyn Stone had a career high 24 points, along with three rebounds and three assists.
One of the most balanced teams in the Friends League has been Academy of the New Church. It is also one of the quickest.
The Lions aren’t blessed with overwhelming height, but the players rely on their speed and unending hustle. They have so many players who can pick the pockets of their opponents.
Among the top six players in the rotation, nobody is taller than 5-8.
Still, the Lions have enjoyed a strong season with this veteran group.
The leader is 5-6 Xola Wade, one of three seniors who are three-year starters. The others are 5-8 Arianna Frank and 5-5 Te’a Richards.
Any defender trying to keep up with Wade better be strong in the endurance department.
That’s because Wade is a player whose game is centered on perpetual motion.
“She has been getting doubled and moves without the ball better than most kids I have seen,” said ANC coach Rashim Lancit. “She is constant motion.”
Once on the court, Wade rarely leaves.
“When she is not in foul trouble, she doesn’t come off the floor,” Lancit said. “Every team pays so much attention to her.”
Academy of the New Church senior, Xola Wade #10 - PSD Photo by Allie Riches
Wade is looking to play at the next level and Lancit says she has received some Division III and Division II looks.
Frank, who also hopes to play in college, often has to battle against much taller players, but she is still averaging double-digits in rebounds.
Richards isn’t a big scorer, but gives the Lions a much-needed perimeter threat.
“She is one of our better three-point shooters and is good for two to three three-pointers per game,” Lancit said.
The point guard is 5-6 sophomore Jayda Mayo. As an eighth grader, Mayo suffered a broken kneecap and also tore ligaments, and last year was one to rehab from the injury. This year, she has been playing well, running the offense and the orchestrator of what is a potent fast break.
The other starter is 5-7 junior Omega Wade, the sister of Xola, who provides needed offense and defense.
The first player off the bench is 5-5 freshman Ahlexus Villefranche.
The Lions thrive in transition and make up for their relative lack of size with their speed.
“They are a fun group to coach and watch,” Lancit said.
Not so fun, for other teams that must try to keep up with one of the fastest units in the Friends League.
Xola Wade became the first ANC girls’ basketball 1,000 point career scorer during a 77-15 win over Abington Friends. She had 31 points, along with six steals, and three assists. Villefranche added 12 points and three rebounds and Omega Wade contributed 10 points and five steals.
Congratulations to ANC senior Xola Wade who scored her 1,000th career point in win over AFS - PSD Photo by Allie Riches
Barrack Hebrew Academy began last week with a 61-44 non-league win over Charles E. Smith Day. Leading the way for the Cougars was 5-6 sophomore Sami Neff, who scored 23 points. Fellow sophomore Mikayla Trajtenberg added 18 points, while Noa Singer scored 12 and 5-9 senior Talia Cohen added eight points.
“It was a long week of games on the road, so we are really proud of the grit our team showed getting this victory,” Barrack coach Sasha Birosik said. “Our team came out strong from the start, being aggressive on defense and forcing turnovers, which allowed us to get out in transition. We did a great job maintaining that effort throughout the game and it was a great team win!”
Neff had a team-high 10 points, while Trajtenberg added nine in a loss to Shipley.
The Cougars then rebounded with a 58-46 non-league win over Baldwin as Trajtenberg led the way with 26 points and Neff scored 13, with Singer adding seven.
Westtown had all 12 players score during a convincing win over Friends Select. Jordyn Palmer, a 6-1 freshman who is already among the top players in the area, led the way with 14 points. Savannah Curry, a 5-11 senior and Temple commit and junior Vianna Kanyamiheto-Watson both scored 11. Aidan Langley, a 6-1 junior, scored 10. That improved the Moose to 21-2 overall and they finished 8-0 regular season Friends League action.
George School showed great balance in a 58-27 win over Germantown Friends. Sylvie Harrington, a 6-0 sophomore wing, led the Cougars with 16 points. Two others had double doubles – 5-9 freshman Zamiya Lowe (14 points (10 rebounds) and Delaware commit Gianna Johnson (12 points, 10 rebounds).