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Prepping for Preps '22-23: Penn Charter (Girls)

11/09/2022, 12:00pm EST
By Missy Dougherty

Missy Dougherty (@Missyingyou)

(Ed. Note: This story is part of CoBL’s “Prepping for Preps” series, which will take a look at many of the top high school programs in the region as part of our 2022-23 season preview coverage. The complete list of schools previewed thus far can be found here.)


Penn Charter won a lot of games last year – 20 to be exact – on its way to the program’s first Inter-Ac title since 1998. 

This year’s squad has its eyes set on plenty of more victories including another league championship, and one more in particular.

“They want to win their last game,” PC head coach Joe Maguire said, referring to the team’s quest for a Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) state title. “Only one team wins their last game.”

Penn Charter sophomore Kaylinn Bethea was a first team All-Inter Ac selection as a freshman. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

The Quakers lost their final game by one point last season. Falling 51-50 to Westtown in the PAISAA championship game.

Bella Toomey, one of three seniors on the roster, backs up her coach’s thoughts that there is some unfinished business left for her classmates and the rest of the team.

“I think what is left to accomplish at PC is winning the PAISAA State Championship,” Toomey said. “We came so close last year,and I think we owe it to ourselves, our coaches, and all the graduated players to win it this year.”

Maguire, in his eighth season, has established a winning mindset and team culture where his players have embraced the idea of leaving the program better than you found it.

 “The 2019-20 team (that went 25-4 before falling in the state championship game) raised the bar and this group took it and ran with it,” Maguire said.

 “The seniors want to leave their mark in terms of this year’s team being a great team at the school. The relationships go past just high school. They want to be able to come back (after they have left) and look at the banners and celebrate what they have done.”

There should be a lot to celebrate as Toomey and her classmates Aleah Snead and Gracie Shoup hope to lead the squad to a season to remember.

Maguire returns a bevy of talent highlighted by three 2021-22 first-team all-conference honorees in Snead, Toomey and sophomore Kaylinn “KayKay” Bethea.

 Snead, who averaged 13.5 ppg during her first three seasons, will continue her playing career at Saint Joseph’s next season. 

The 5-11 guard/forward still has goals she wants to accomplish before she leaves Penn Charter including claiming the aforementioned state title, along with the personal goals of reaching the 1000-point mark and winning the Inter-Ac Most Valuable Player Award.

 Maguire believes Snead has set the tone in pre-season workouts. 

“Aleah has been super focused and a great role model for the younger kids in terms of showing them ‘how we do it,’” Maguire said.

Penn Charter senior Aleah Snead is headed to St. Joe's for her college career. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Toomey, who has averaged 11.6 ppg over her career to date, is committed to play at Fairleigh Dickinson next season. She enjoys the opportunity to play alongside such talented teammates who are willing to share the spotlight for the good of the team.

 “The commitment that every player showed throughout the whole season was amazing,” Toomey said. “I think we all genuinely wanted to see each other succeed and that was a huge factor that played into the success our team had last year.”

 “Bella continues to grow her game on the offensive side,” Maguire said. “She’s always been a great defender, great passer, and great reader of the game.”

 Averaging 12.6 ppg in her initial season of high school action, Bethea made an instant impact at the guard spot – willing to do whatever she needed to do to help the team win.

 “KayKay does everything full speed in the best way she can,” Maguire said. “If she needs to score, she can, or she can get other people shots. She reads the floor well in terms of mismatches.”

 A disruptive force on defense, Bethea seizes any opportunity to use her length to make life difficult for opponents. 

 “I will continue to play intense defense and hope we can defend at a high level as a team,” the sophomore, who already owns several Division I offers, said. 

Another player looking to make an impact in any way possible is Shoup, who will wind up her basketball career at Penn Charter before taking her lacrosse talents to Ohio State University next year.

 Shoup sees herself as having an important leadership role in encouraging and pushing her teammates and being someone who does the little things on and off the court. 

“Gracie finds ways to help our team all the time,” Maguire said. “She does all the little things. If you just look at the scorebook at the end of the game, you won’t get a true picture of everything she does.”

You can never have enough talent and Maguire added a major boost to his already talented roster with the addition of 5-10 eighth grader Ryan Carter.

“Ryan fits in well with how we play,” Maguire said. “She’s a good teammate who works really hard and does what we need her to do. Ryan wants to win and be a part of something bigger than herself.”

 So with all that individual talent on one roster, how do you keep everyone happy and keep the focus on the team?

 Success is made that much easier when expectations are clear and the players from up and down the roster buy in willingly.

“We expect everyone to dribble, shoot, and pass,” Maguire said. “They are all going to get their opportunities.”

“We tell them to identify the mismatch and take advantage of it. Some days they might score 15 points and other days they might score six.”

 The fact that players are content to wait for their respective opportunities when they come is a testament to the team culture that has been built on School House Lane. It is common to hear everyone on the team talk about commitment and the idea of family and that the experience of playing for Penn Charter is one that has been life-changing.

 “The experience of playing basketball at Penn Charter has meant everything to me,” Shoup said. “Although basketball is not my main sport, having the chance to gain the relationships I have and be coached by a person like Coach Joe has been amazing. Being around such a great group of girls who want to win, push each other to be better every day, and having the experience of such a positive team culture has taught me so much.

Reflecting on the great competition at open gyms as the players, in line with the team culture, have competed respectfully with each other, Maguire has instilled the mindset to “not back down from people.”

It’s a philosophy that he has carried over to putting together the schedule for this season as well.

A challenging slate awaits the Quakers highlighted by a season-opening contest against St. Frances (Md.) in the Super Games in D.C., and a return to D.C. just over a week later for a game against Winston Salem Christian (N.C.). A trip to Florida at Christmas for the Tampa Invitational that will feature several nationally-ranked teams shows the lengths Penn Charter will go to to test themselves.

 Closer to home, Penn Charter will take on defending PCL and PIAA 5A champion Cardinal O’Hara, defending Philadelphia Public League champion Imhotep, and defending PIAA 4A champion Archbishop Wood in non-league action. 

Other non-league tilts include match-ups with Abington, Archbishop Carroll at Father Judge (Maguire’s alma mater) in an event honoring the memory of Coach Bill Fox, and a spot in the Blue Star Showcase event,  while also dealing with the always-tough road that the Inter-Ac presents.

 “The Inter-Ac is always a well-coached, tough league,” Maguire said. “You have to make sure you are always prepared for the different styles and be ready to adjust because teams can sneak up on you.”

 “We are not shying away from anyone. It will be a challenge and we will need each other.”

 Bethea echoed her coach about the squad needing each other.

 “Penn Charter basketball is about the team playing together and we typically don't worry about our individual success and accolades, Bethea said.  “If we can deal with adversity and stay healthy it should be an exciting and fun season for everyone in the PC community.

“This group wants to enjoy the time together – enjoy the moments,” Maguire said. “They have their own story to tell in the annals of Penn Charter basketball history and their own path to follow.”

The Quakers are hoping that path leads to a state title.

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