Bryn Mawr >> When Shipley joined the Friends’ Schools League in 2005, it did not take long to create a rivalry with Friends’ Central. Over the years the two schools have embraced the rivalry trying to find creative ways to involve the communities from each school.
With the rivalry continuing to grow the two schools have turned their annual boys’ and girls’ basketball contests into a feature event rotating the location each year.
This year was Shipley’s turn to host, and in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Yarnell Gymnasium Tuesday evening consisting mostly of family, friends, classmates and alums, the two teams gave their fans plenty of entertaining basketball.
With Shipley emerging victorious in both contests, the games certainly possessed different points of excitement for everyone in attendance.
The girls’ started off the evening and it appeared early on the Phoenix were ready to give the defending PAISAA (Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association) champions everything they could handle.
The Phoenix got off to a quick start but the Gators found their way toward the end of the first quarter, en route to an eventual 65-34 victory. Pacing the Shipley win was Anna Camden with 28 points (including six three pointers), six rebounds and four blocks. Ross added 16 points, seven steals and three rebounds.
“The crowd definitely helped us this evening,” said Ross. “Having the boys’ team and our friends and family in the crowd definitely made the game livelier.”
“It was definitely a great atmosphere,” said Friends’ Central junior Zoe Shoemaker, who finished with eight points. “You get hype and get excited and it’s definitely a lot of fun.”
Friends’ Central led 7-4 midway through the first quarter, courtesy of a Shoemaker three-pointer and the Phoenix’s ability to limit Shipley to one shot thanks to key rebounding from Raanae Smith and Briana Cypress.
Shipley, who likes to get out and run, seemed to find its groove as the first quarter came to close, thanks in large part to juniors Anna Camden and Lauren Ross, who sparked a 10-0 run to end the quarter and give the hosts a 14-7 lead.
After Shipley freshman Olivia Joseph made one of two free throws to extend the lead to 19-9 it appeared the Gators were on their way. The Phoenix refused to go away, climbing to within seven at 19-12. That was the closest Friends’ Central got, as Shipley found their rhythm and broke open the game.
“It took us a little while to get rolling. We usually find our rhythm in practice but since we were limited due to weather we had to find our rhythm in the game,” said Ross.
Although Shipley seized control, Friends’ Central refused to go quietly, fighting until the final horn. Leading the way for Friends’ Central was Smith with 13 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
“We have a similar team as last year,” said Shoemaker. “Our team will never quit and I just do my best to pick everyone up. This game will definitely help and hopefully we will see them again.”
The nightcap featured two teams who have picked up big wins this season – Shipley, against defending PIAA Class 3A state champion Neumann-Goretti; and Friends’ Central, versus Salesianum. In a hard-fought contest, Shipley defeated Friends’ Central, 68-61.
Behind the offense of Binghampton recruit Sam Sessoms, who scored 19 of his 35 points in the first half; the defense of junior Ray Sommerville, who registered six of his seven blocks in the first half; and the hustle of sophomore Randall Brown, the Gators raced out to a 37-20 halftime lead.
As they have done throughout the season, the Phoenix refused to go quietly, climbing to within 49-48 at the start of the fourth quarter, thanks to a 9-0 run sparked by the trio of sophomores Omar Nichols and Mason Mosley and junior Miles Robinson.
That was the closest Friends’ Central got, as the Gators turned up the defense, limiting the offensive chances for the Phoenix along with shooting 13-for-16 from the free throw line to help fend off the visitors.
“Tonight was a lot of fun,” said Robinson, who finished with 11 points, two assists, two rebounds and two blocks after missing last year’s game due to a torn ACL. “The crowd was into it and I was able to feed off the crowd. Tonight showed us we can compete against the top teams in the league and we just have to keep working.”
Shipley’s Randall Brown said, “Tonight win meant a lot. I have friends who play on Friends’ Central and it was fun competing against them. I know I am not a primary scorer so I try and go out and do the little things. This will be a night to remember.”
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