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PAISAA Tournament: Balanced Friends' Central routs George School to make semis

02/20/2024, 11:35pm EST
By Missy Dougherty

Missy Dougherty (@Missyingyou)

Asked what it was like to play on a deep, talented team like the Friends’ Central girls basketball squad, junior wing Jordyn Adderly was quick to talk about balance.

“We have balance — we have shooters … we have a point guard … we have defensive players … we just have everybody,” Adderly said.

It’s a high-powered lineup with three explosive scorers in juniors Logyn Greer, Kaiya Rain Tucker and Nal’la Bennett, as well as players focused on bringing the intangible “glue” such as Adderly and classmate Saniyah Washington.

George School was the latest opponent to feel the effect of the Phoenix’s balance as host Friends’ Central took down the Cougars 70-49 in quarterfinal action of the PAISAA Tournament Tuesday afternoon.

The second-seeded Phoenix (25-7) showed off their balance early and often against the George School as they jumped out to a 25-12 advantage after one quarter. All five Friends’ Central starters scored in the opening eight minutes, led by Tucker with eight.

Friends' Central's Saniyah Washington (left) and Jordyn Adderly (right) combined for 19 points in Tuesday's PIASAA quarterfinal win over the George School. (Photo: Missy Dougherty/CoBL)

“I liked how we came out,” Phoenix coach Vinny Simpson said. “We started with lots of energy and intensity. Over the last few weeks, we have been starting off a little sluggish. 

“We started off so strong that we got comfortable. And that’s the biggest thing, don’t get comfortable. Don’t get comfortable where you are giving up open shots. A team like George School wants to shoot 3-pointers, and we wanted to put a little pressure on them and make them drive and make plays.”

Friends' Central’s pressure kept George School off the scoreboard in the second quarter until Zamiya Lowe hit 1 of 2 from the foul line to make the score 31-13 with 4:37 remaining until halftime. 

The Phoenix further helped their cause in the second quarter by drawing the second and third fouls on the Cougars’ 6-foot-5 senior center Gianna Johnson, a University of Delaware commit.

Lowe’s turnaround in the lane cut the Phoenix lead to 35-24 in the final minute, but Friends' Central answered right back on a baseline out-of-bounds set that led to an elbow jumper from Bennett just before the halftime buzzer.

Seventh-seeded George School stayed within striking distance throughout the first half on the strength of four 3-pointers, three by Maya Ravindranathan and one by Basha Harrington.

The second half was much of the same story as Friends' Central remained comfortably ahead with its deep roster on full display.

Tuesday’s loss brought a close to Johnson’s memorable scholastic career.
“Gianna has been fun to coach,” George School head coach Lakeisha Sutton said. “If anyone (has) been following her journey, (they see) she’s developed and that is what is a win for us, as coaches.

“Her best basketball is ahead of her, and I’m grateful she said yes to the George School. She has battled for two years against double teams and made history (at George School) along with her fellow seniors Sophia and Basha.”

Another grateful coach is Simpson, who knows how important Adderly and Washington are to the Phoenix.

“They are both great defenders,” Simpson said. “No. 0 (Adderly) defends the best player every time. She’s big, she rebounds. Saniyah is also a great on-ball defender. She gets her hands on a lot of deflections and stuff like that.

“When you have two players that are like that, where intangibles matter, that helps the team.”

Adderly and Washington are looking to help the team any way they can as they keep their eyes on the next challenge: Germantown Academy in Friday’s semifinals.

Adderly, who finished with nine points and three rebounds, spoke about bringing energy, playing defense, getting the team started and working hard. 

Washington stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds.

“My part is I just need to distribute the ball,” Washington said. “And when the team needs me to score, I will score.”

The Phoenix have their eyes on a berth in the championship game after losing to Penn Charter in last year’s PAISAA semifinals 53-40.

“We just got to work hard and get through to the next game,” Washington said. "We just have to push and make it to the championship. That’s what we are trying to get to.”

Friends' Central will face third-seeded Germantown Academy in the semifinals after the Patriots took down Shipley in PAISAA quarterfinal action Tuesday night.

The Phoenix edged the host Patriots 54-51 in early December.

“We want to finish the season off playing in the last game,” Simpson said. “We don’t want to be watching.”

By Quarter

Friends' Central: 25 | 12 | 15 | 18 || 70

George School: 12 | 12 | 11 | 14 || 49


Friends' Central: Nal’la Bennett 17, Kaiya Rain Tucker 14, Logyn Greer 12, Saniyah Washington 10, Jordyn Adderly 9, Faith Watson 4, London Mayo 2, Phoenix Walker 2

George School: Maya Ravindranathan 13, Zamiya Lowe 11, Gianna Johnson 8, Sylvie Harrington 7, Sophia Martinez 7, Basha Harrington 3



Second Round (Tue., Feb. 20)
1) Westtown School def. 8) Perkiomen School (final score not reported)
5) Notre Dame 45, 4) Penn Charter 40
3) Germantown Academy 59, 6) Shipley School 39
2) Friends’ Central 70, 7) George School 49

Semifinals (Fri., Feb. 23)
1) Westtown School vs. 5) Notre Dame
2) Friends’ Central vs. 3) Germantown Academy

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