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Penn Charter's group effort leads into PAISAA title game

03/04/2022, 11:15pm EST
By Ty Daubert

Ty Daubert (@TyDaubert)

PHILADELPHIA — Dormant for three quarters, Penn Charter erupted at just the right time.

The No. 2 Quakers rallied behind a hot start to the fourth quarter to down the sixth-seeded Episcopal Academy 52-45 in a PAISAA girls’ semifinal playoff game on Friday night at the Graham Athletic Center.

“We just needed to dig deeper inside,” freshman guard Kaylinn Bethea said. “Coming out of halftime, we knew we had to pick up the energy. Then in the fourth quarter, when we got our control and were motivated, I feel like we were good.”

Kaylinn Bethea (above) was one of five Quakers with 8+ points in the semifinal win. (Photo: Ty Daubert/CoBL)

Penn Charter (20-4), winner of the Inter-Academic League, advances with the victory over Inter-Ac opponent Episcopal to compete in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools state final, where it’ll meet No. 1 Westtown — a 65-48 winner over Germantown Academy — at 6 p.m. on Saturday night at La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena.

“We wanted to represent our league in the PAISAA championship,” Quakers coach Joe Maguire said. “We wanted to be the ones who face Westtown; we didn’t want anyone else to do that.”

To get there, Penn Charter used contributions from five total scorers, all of whom pitched in at similar levels. Bethea and Bella Toomey led the team with 12 points each, while Gracie Shoup scored 11 and Maddie Shoup and Aleah Snead added nine and eight, respectively.

However, the Quakers struggled a bit for much of the game, trailing just behind for nearly the entirety of the first three quarters. While dealing with some turnover problems offensively, Penn Charter also found itself in foul trouble often trying to handle Episcopal forward Gaeli Keffer-Scharpf inside the paint.

Keffer-Scharpf put the Churchmen on the board by starting the game with a layup as she drew a foul and converted the free throw. She replicated the same sequence again in the first as Episcopal took a 15-12 lead after the quarter behind her six points.

Penn Charter locked things at 24-24 just before halftime after a small spark from a banked-in Snead 3-pointer. But Keffer-Scharpf and Episcopal got back to work in the third quarter, putting Toomey and Snead into foul trouble as they went ahead 37-34 at the end of the period.

“She’s a really good player with her size,” Maguire said of Keffer-Scharpf. “Without having our biggest player (Toomey), it’s tough, but the other girls did a good job of containing the other girls on their team.”

Things finally clicked for Penn Charter to open the fourth quarter. Down by three points, Bethea buried a triple from the right corner on the Quakers’ first possession of the period. Her shot tied it up, and her team never looked back.

“When the ball was rolling off my fingers, I knew that was going in,” Bethea said.

The Quakers got stops, and the offense kept rolling in a much more smooth manner. Maddie Shoup nailed two 3-pointers in the early parts of the fourth, the latter of which capped an 11-0 run that put Penn Charter ahead 45–37 for its largest lead of the game with 4:26 remaining.

Gracie Shoup added to the fourth-quarter attack, nailing free throws down the stretch as Penn Charter maintained its separation to complete the win.

“In the second half, (Gracie Shoup) brought a ton of energy,” Maguire said. “Maddie Shoup hit a bunch of big shots. They all just started shooting the ball with confidence, swinging the ball around and not kind of pausing. They were catching and attacking more in the second half.”

As the Quakers look toward the championship matchup with Westtown, they know their performance will have to resemble Friday’s second half much more than the first half if they wish to beat the top-seeded Moose. Penn Charter will focus on handling the ball more carefully and keeping all its players on the floor by defending without fouling.

“Westtown’s going to be one big team,” Bethea said. “They’re going to be even better than this team (we just played). We can’t come out as we did in this game. We have to bring more energy and just kick it in the first half.”

With this opportunity in the PAISAA title game, Maguire hopes it can serve as a sweet ending to what’s been a successful season for Penn Charter.

“This is always our goal,” he said. “We want to win the league, and we want to win this. Every time we’re playing we think we’re going to win. So if there’s more basketball, we want to win that. We wanted another day together as a team, and we want to send the seniors out the right way: with a win.”

By Quarter
Episcopal Ac.:  15  |   9   |  13  |   8   ||  45
Penn Charter:  12  |  12  |  10  |  18  ||  52

Episcopal Academy: Gaeli Keffer-Scharpf 17, Riley Cassidy 10, Isabella Piselli 6, Alice Nash 6, Amanda Purcell 5, Natalie Magnotta 1

Penn Charter: Kaylinn Bethea 12, Bella Toomey 12, Gracie Shoup 11, Maddie Shoup 9, Aleah Snead 8

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