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CoBL Girls' Winter Classic: Schedule + Preview (Dec. 17)

12/12/2023, 1:30am EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

CoBL’s first-ever in-season girls’ high school basketball event is no small affair. 

Twenty-eight teams will take the court at Jefferson University on Sunday, December 17, in the region’s biggest girls event of the first month of the season, with 14 games taking place on two courts going all day long. 

The field is stocked with not only some of the area’s top teams and players, but a few high-level squads from out-of-town. Westtown School, fresh off a GEICO National Semifinal appearance and boasting some of the best prospects in the country, headlines the event, but there’s talent about in Blair Academy (N.J.), South Shore Christian (Mass.), Perkiomen Valley, Cardinal O’Hara, Penn Charter, Friends’ Central and so, so much more.

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Here’s a look at all 14 games on Sunday; admission to the event is $10, and $5 for children under 14. 

Ryann Jennings (above) and Conestoga should have coaches at Jefferson early. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Conestoga vs. Great Valley (9:00 AM, Court 1)
The Pioneers look like the favorites in the Central League after a big win over reigning champion Haverford last week. Senior guard Marisa Francione (Scranton) and classmates Bella and Katrina Valencia lead the way while sophomore 5-10 wing Ryann Jennings has multiple D-I offers and 6-1 forward Janie Preston is an intriguing prospect in her own right. Great Valley 5-3 senior Julia Curran, a shooter with speed and pesky defender, is the only rotation player back this season for Great Valley.

Bishop Shanahan vs. Kennett (9:15 AM, Court 2)
This one is a cross-division Ches-Mont battle. The Eagles are led by the strong senior core of 5-8 forward Sam Blumenthal (Catholic), point guard Faith Ambrose and 5-9 wing Abbey Wolfe. For Kennett, senior forward Mia Matthews, senior guard Greta Burns and junior guard Quinn Simmons, were all-league honorable selections a season ago. And senior point guard Mary Carroll and junior Sarah Mullin are two others to keep an eye on.

Cardinal O’Hara vs. Penn Charter (10:30 AM, Court 1)
Plenty of prospects here both committed and otherwise as the Lions and Quakers do battle (a classic tale, indeed). O’Hara, one of the favorites in the Catholic League, is led by La Salle commit and senior guard Joanie Quinn and Drexel commit Molly Rullo, a junior wing, but also features sophomore guard Megan Rullo, senior forward Carly Coleman and an exciting freshman class worth watching. Penn Charter, the two-time defending Inter-Ac favorites, feature junior guard Kaylinn Bethea and freshman wing guard Ryan Carter, both heavily recruited by a list of D-I schools, plus a plethora of multi-sport athletes which make them really tough defensively.

Pennsbury vs. Germantown Academy (10:45 AM, Court 2)
Expect a chess match between two great X’s and O’s coaches in Germantown Academy’s Lauren Power and Pennsbury’s Frank Sciolla. Pennsbury’s offense is led by senior guard Sofia Vitucci, a 5-5 dynamo who can score from all three levels; she leads an undersized-but-tough roster that also features seniors Layla Matthias, Daniella MacDonald, Danielle Sherman and Oliveah Gilchrist, with freshmen Joely Hohman and Sammie Haws bringing some youth to the rotation. The Patriots have their own deep senior class, including wings Isabella Casey and Jess Aponik, her twin Jenn Aponik, a point guard, and guard Sam Wade. Juniors Jess Kolecki, a 5-8 wing, and 5-11 shooting guard Gabby Bowes, also see a lot of minutes; freshman forward Jo Owens has good length and upside at 5-11.

Amya Scott (above) is part of a terrific group of Neumann-Goretti guards. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Neumann-Goretti vs. Spring-Ford (12:00 PM, Court 1)
These two teams played a great game in a preseason event and couldn’t wait to make it happen during the regular season. Spring-Ford’s Mickey McDaniel has two Division I commits in Anna Azzara (Wright State) and Mackenzie Pettinelli (St. Bonaventure), plus senior guards Aaliyah Solliday and Katie Tiffan (Lynn), junior wing Kareena Preuss and more. The Saints counter with a multitude of small-but-talented guards, including 5-5 juniors Amya Scott and Carryn Easley, plus 5-7 sophomores Kamora Berry and Zion Coston; head coach Andrea Peterson doesn’t have anybody on the roster above 5-8. 

Audenried Charter vs. Shipley School (12:15 PM, Court 2)
The best player in the Philadelphia Public League right now is no competition: it’s Audenried’s Shayla Smith. The 5-9 combo guard is a fantastic talent, a three-level scorer with terrific handles who can get an open look from wherever and whenever she wants it; Arizona, Temple, Penn State, Florida and more have offered. Stopping her is point number one for Shipley, though the Gators also have to worry about senior forward Aniyah Howard and 6-2 freshman forward Nasiaah Russell. Shipley’s exciting and super-young, with multiple eighth graders on the roster and a host of underclassmen with experience, like sophomores Taylor Lasky, Rikai Williford and Sanai Johnson; a quartet of juniors led by Ani Prosper and Mallory Farr give them some leadership.

Friends’ Central vs. South Shore Christian (Mass.) (1:30 PM, Court 1)
South Shore comes down from the Bay State, with a new-look roster under the direction of first-year head coach Devin Hill, who’s also the school’s new athletics director. Hill’s brought in a bunch of talent to the program, including senior wing Kelian Cedano, a Temple commit, plus fellow seniors Janeya Grant (St. John’s) and Amany Lopez (Rider) and keep an eye out for sophomore guard Zariah Ottley as next up. They get matched up with a Phoenix squad that has one of the area’s highest-ceiling recruits in junior Logyn Greer, a versatile 6-3 wing, but her classmates Kaiya Rain Tucker and Nal’la Bennett both have Division I offers, too. Head coach Vinnie Simpson also has some really good 2028s, including wing Londyn Mayo, who’s quickly picking up confidence as her season gets going.

Perkiomen Valley vs. Sanford School (Del.) (1:45 PM, Court 2)
One of the best in Delaware comes up to take on the reigning District 1 6A champs, who are only getting better. Perk Valley starts four juniors, including center Quinn Boettinger, point guard Bella Bacani and wing Grace Galbavy, while their classmate Grace Miley works her way back from an ACL injury; senior guard Anna Stein is a Kutztown commit and her sister Lena Stein and Julie Smith round out the junior class. Sanford is the defending Delaware state champions, capping off an undefeated season with a DIAA championship win over Ursuline. They're led by senior captain Tyler Edwards, a Fairleigh Dickinson commit, while junior guard Jada Snow has blown up this summer with all sorts of Division I offers. Junior Ellie Carter-Soriano and sophomore Naomi Allen were both honorable mention all-league last year as well.

Jessie Moses (above) and Westtown play in the headline game of the event. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Westtown School vs. Blair Academy (N.J.) (3:00 PM, Court 1)
The highlight game in an event full of heavyweight matchups, the Moose and Bucs both packed with future D-I talent. Westtown’s senior wings, Zahra King (Cal) and Savannah Curry (Temple) are both high-level scorers but it’s the freshmen, guard Jessie Moses and wing Jordyn Palmer, who tend to steal the show; both are in the top 25 in their class nationally. Oh, and Fran Burbidge has at least three other Division I players on his roster. Blair’s Greg Rosnick counters with Virginia Tech commit Kennedy Henry, sophomore forward Priyanka Ponnam, American commit Elizabeth Archer, Dartmouth commit Zeynep Ozel and more. 

Springfield (Delco.) vs. Archbishop Ryan (3:15 PM, Court 2)
Both of these teams are in stages of discovering who they are early in the season, for different reasons. Springfield graduated most of its rotation from a year ago, with senior guard Cora Fattori the only significant piece back; a group of previously-untested seniors and a few juniors have already helped them pick up a couple wins. Archbishop Ryan is dealing with its own turnover, a coaching change within a week before the season started; senior guard Delaney Finn will have to shoulder a lot for the Raiders, who have some intriguing youngsters as well.

Archbishop Carroll vs. George School (4:30 PM, Court 1)
It’s Catholic League vs. Friends’ Schools League in this heavyweight battle, with two teams built very differently. Carroll’s all guards, including senior guard Brooke Wilson (Army), junior Olivia Nardi and sophomore Alexis Eberz, with the McFillin sisters three newcomers who will all make an impact — senior Felicity (Air Force), junior Maddie and freshman Abbie, the older two coming over from Harriton. George School, meanwhile, is centered around 6-5 center Gianna Johnson, a Delaware commit, though senior guards Sophia Martinez and Basha Harrington plus sophomore guard Sylvie Harrington give the Cougars perimeter pop, too.

Riley Davis (above) is one of the area's best freshmen. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Notre Dame vs. Nazareth Academy (4:45 PM, Court 2)
First-year Notre Dame head coach Terry Mancini has two of the area’s top freshmen around in guard Riley Davis and post Grace Nasr, the two of whom will form a great core for the Irish moving forward; Davis is an athletic guard with good size (5-10) and a great outside shot who makes plays at both ends, while the 6-2 Nasr is a good rim protector with a quickly-developing post game. Scranton commit Lizzie Halligan does a lot for them as well, from scoring and rebound to playmaking and defending. Nazareth, in its first year in the Catholic League, returns all five starters from a team that went to the second round of states; juniors Reese Power (12.8 ppg), a 5-8 guard and Abby Rock (9.8 ppg), a 5-7 guard, will once again lead the charge alongside guards Rileigh Donohue and Natalie D’Alfonso and forward Gracie Sullivan.

Upper Dublin vs. Council Rock South (6:00 PM, Court 1)
There should be plenty of pace and plenty of threes in this one as two SOL squads looking to contend for their respective division crowns face off. Upper Dublin is led by its dual sister acts, with senior Amy (Holy Family) and sophomore Megan Ngo in their first full season as teammates with twins Brighid and Nora Brady (Neumann for both) round out the four returnees for coach Morgan Funsten. A pair of athletic freshmen in Tamia Clark and Bridget DiMartile have the Cards looking to add some speed to their usually methodical style. CR South has plenty of depth and plenty of quickness. Seniors Katie Purpura (St Thomas Aquinas), Cam Gregory and Miranda Cantor plus juniors Kathryn O’Kane, Fiona Reckner and Liliana Metrick give coach Jesse Krasna some significant experience in his first season with the team. Senior Lily Bross is a rotation player too but has been dealing with an injury while junior Sarah Freeman has found a role off the bench early in the season.

West Catholic vs. Abington (6:15 PM, Court 2)
The Burrs’ sophomore core of 5-11 forward Jasmine Butler, 6-0 forward Ciani Scott and 5-7 guard Ciana Blake are all back from last season along with junior 6-0 forward Kiajah Henry and senior 5-7 guard Laila Farmer. Newcomer Nyla Coleman, a 5-8 junior guard, and freshman 5-6 guard Na'la Haynesworth already have double-figure outings this season. Abington 5-4 guard Mikiaya Durham is off to a breakout sophomore campaign, while senior Jordyn Reynolds and junior Maya Johnson are tough backcourt threats as well. Senior 5-7 guard Piper McGinley and sophomore 5-6 guard Zyn McClain are also big pieces for a Ghosts group that is still tough.

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