Photos/Videos: Dylan Precious (Westtown Jr. Reporter) & Lennie Malmgren
By: Marc Narducci
When everybody mentions Westtown’s 6-1 freshman Jordyn Palmer, the discussion usually centers on her being among the more impressive players in this area.
Veteran Westtown coach Fran Burbidge agrees with that assessment of Palmer, but he includes an addendum.
“She is as good as there is out there, not just in this area,” said Burbidge, who will be the head coach of the East squad in this year’s McDonald’s All-American game in Houston. “I don’t say this lightly, she has a chance to be really special in this game.”
Palmer scored 27 points as top-seeded and three-time defending Friends League champion and top seeded Westtown defeated No. 4 seeded Shipley 88-44, in Tuesday’s Friends League semifinal.
Mallory Farr, Anna Pascale and Sanai Johnson each scored eight points for Shipley in the loss.
Westtown, which was 8-0 in the regular season Friends League schedule, will meet No. 2 seeded Friends Central in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. championship at La Salle University. Second seeded Friends Central earned its title berth with a 69-46 semifinal win over No. 3 seeded Academy of the New Church.
This is a rematch of last year’s title game in which Westtown defeated Friends Central, 75-35.
In last year’s championship game as an eighth grader, Palmer had 19 points, seven rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
This season she is averaging 18 points per game. In many instances, Palmer barely plays more than half the game because Westtown had built up a commanding lead.
She has taken her game up a serious notch this year, according to her coach.
“Jordyn has really worked on developing her perimeter game and you have to play her outside the three-point line because she has been tough to guard,” Burbidge said. “Bigger defenders have to guard her beyond the line, and she is able to take smaller ones and post them up and another reason she is a difficult matchup is she passes so well.”
Palmer’s versatility, especially on defense, has been a real plus for the Moose.
“She plays all five positions and this year we have had her do things with the ball in her hand at the top,” Burbidge said. “She will post up, come off screens and takes three and she is the total package.”
Burbidge has more to add.
“She is good enough to guard all the positions,” he said. “That is what makes her as good as anybody out there, forget the area.”
In addition to Palmer, 5-11 senior Savannah Curry scored 22 points in the semifinal win over Shipley, while 5-10 sophomore Atlee Vanesko added 10. Curry, who is a Temple commit, has continued to be a stabilizing force on what is a young Westtown team.
In its semifinal win over ANC, 6-1 junior Kaiya Rain Tucker had 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Friends Central attack.
“She really held the team together and was the biggest leader on the court for us,” Friends Central coach Vincent Simpson said.
Logyn Greer, a 6-3 junior, added 15 points and 14 rebounds and 5-8 junior Nal’la Bennett contributed 13 points and five assists. In the loss, ANC senior Xola Wade led all scorers with 21 points, five steals and six blocks.
On Jan. 9, Friends Central beat ANC, 58-21 in the regular season, but this time the Lions were much more competitive.
“We kept them in the game too long for my liking, but give them credit for making us work,” Simpson said.
On Jan. 5, Westtown beat Friends Central, 77-18. That was Friends Central’s lone Friends League loss. In that game, Palmer led the way for Westtown with 23 points. All 12 players scored for Westtown.
Simpson said he had two players out that game due to illness, but now should be at full strength.
“We are back in the championship game and have the opportunity to shock the city,” Simpson said. “You can’t ask for anything better.”
2021: no champion due to COVID
Even though the end of the Friends League season is on Friday, the teams still have more basketball left. Many compete in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) state championship.
Westtown is the defending champion, having defeated William Penn Charter, 74-54 in last year’s championship game. It was Westtown’s second straight PAISAA state title.
This year’s Play-in games must be played by Feb. 14
First-round game will be played by Friday, Feb. 16, with second-round games to be played by Tuesday Feb. 20.
The semifinal games are Friday Feb. 23, and the championship will be March 3 at St. Joseph’s University Hagan Arena.
In this year’s bracket, Westtown is the top seed, while William Penn Charter is seeded No. 2.