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Westtown girls defending Friends' League title with dominant win over Friends' Central

02/11/2023, 12:45am EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

On a night where someone other than Westtown’s boys won the Friends’ Schools League championship for the first time in a decade, the Westtown girls made a statement: it might be quite a while before anybody knocks the Moose off their crown.

The present and future of Westtown was on full display on Friday night at La Salle University’s Tom Gola Arena as the Moose successfully defended their Friends’ Schools League championship for the third time, taking down Friends’ Central 75-35 on Friday night at Tom Gola Arena.

Westtown celebrates the 2023 Friends' Schools League championship. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

All 10 Westtown players who saw the floor ended up in the scoring column, including two eighth graders, a freshman and two sophomores, the future of the program, while the juniors and seniors more than held their own.

“I think it's great, I think to have all of the players on the team contribute to the game and our success throughout the whole season,” senior Grace Sundback said. “I’m proud of all the work us as a program have put in to build up to this point, and we continue to build.”

Once again, it was eighth grader Jordyn Palmer who led her team in scoring (19 points), rebounds (7), steals (5) and blocks (2), just another in a string of stellar performances for the first-year varsity player, who’s quickly establishing herself as one of the best players in the area, regardless of class, before she even starts her high school years.

“She was this quiet little eighth grader at the beginning of the year, and she’s just grown and become this amazing person besides a basketball player,” Sundback said. “She’s just an amazing person and she’s so much fun to play with.”

Jordyn Palmer (above) scored 19 points with seven rebounds and five steals. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

A 6-foot-1 wing forward with an already-advanced inside-out skillset for any high schooler, much less someone who’s yet to step foot in high school, Palmer has been a standout all season long for the Moose, her two-way play a major reason they’ve been running through opponents with regularity. Her most impressive outing of the season was likely a 31-point, 14-rebound one against Paul VI (N.J.) last month, and while her numbers on Friday weren’t quite as gaudy, there’s no doubt her impact on both ends of the court was just about as big.

“She affects the game in so many different ways that don’t show up in the scorebook,” Westtown coach Fran Burbidge said. “We did a good job of playing through her tonight, and we haven’t been very good at that a lot of times during the year. And I think you saw some of the end results of that.”

For Sundback, the title was her third in three seasons since coming to Westtown to play for Burbidge and Doug West. For Palmer it was her first, and while she’s got plenty of time for more, the motivation to get Sundback and Seton Hall-bound Joniyah Bland-Fitzpatrick a title before they left for colleges was important.

“I love our seniors, I wanna let them off with a great note, coming from high school and a great mindset going into college,” Palmer said, adding that she wants to go “5-for-5, no doubt.”

Sundback finished with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, with five steals and three assists, the Delaware-bound shooting guard knocking down three from distance. 

Grace Sundback (above) hit three 3-pointers as part of a 14-point outing. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“Grace exemplifies what we’re trying to do with the program as far as not only talent, but character and toughness and competitiveness,” Burbidge said. “She’s ready to move on — I don’t know if I’m ready to let her move on, though, you know?”

Speaking of a guard her head coach is sure to miss, Friends’ Central senior Sana’a Garrett led the Phoenix with 19 points, adding four steals, two rebounds and two assists. But with the Westtown defense locking down talented sophomore wing Logyn Greer (6 points) and with Amani Savage and Kaiya Rain Tucker both in early foul trouble, a Friends’ Central squad with only seven girls in uniform on Friday just literally didn’t have the bodies to compete with a squad packed with high-major talent.

Though the Phoenix found themselves down just 13-7 after first quarter, Westtown wasted no time getting going in the second: after Sundback knocked down a triple, Jessie Moses — another impressive eighth grader — picked off the inbounds pass and laid it in, five points less than 10 seconds into the period. 

Westtown turned those buckets into an 18-1 run, blowing the game wide open. They ended the second quarter having outscored Friends’ Central 31-7 to bring the lead to 44-14 going into halftime; it was 61-23 after three quarters, the starters exiting to a round of applause shortly after the fourth began.

Moses (11 points) and junior wing Zahra King (10 points) rounded out four Moose in double figures. Westtown shot nearly 50% from the floor (25-of-51) and made exactly half of their 3s (9-of-18), with 15 assists as a team, the ball too often finding wide-open shooters, when it wasn’t getting fed inside to Palmer.

“We beat a good team,” Burbidge said. “The score might not indicate that, but I just thought that we came out, set the tone early, never let them catch their breath or let them get a rhythm, and our kids stayed locked for 32 minutes. We’ll take the weekend off, go root for the Birds, and get back to it on Monday.”

By Quarter
Westtown School: 13  |  31  |  17  |  14  ||  75
Friends’ Central:    7   |   7   |   9   |  12  ||  35

Westtown School: 25-51 FG (9-18 3PT), 16-21 FT
Friends’ Central: 10-41 FG (6-14 3PT), 9-16 FT

Westtown School: Jordyn Palmer 19, Grace Sundback 14, Jessie Moses 11, Zahra King 10, Joniyah Fitzpatrick 8, Michelle Olak 4, Atlee Vanesko 3, Savannah Curry 3, Aidan Langley 2, Vianna Kanyamiheto-Watson 1

Friends’ Central: Sana’a Garrett 19, Logyn Greer 7, Nal’la Bennett 6, Sydney Ramseur-Williams 3

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