Delco Times Girls Basketball Notebook: Clemons’ return has Bonner-Prendergast on the move

Princess Clemons was a highly-regarded freshman at Chester High in 2012. By her sophomore year, she had transferred to Bonner-Prendergast to play for longtime Pandas coach Tom Stewart.

Clemons flashed signs of her immense potential as a sophomore, averaging roughly 5.5 points per game while playing in a starting lineup that included Alyssa Monaghan, Sarah Monaghan and Shalina Miller. The outlook was bright for Clemons and the Pandas over the next two seasons.

Things didn’t go as planned.

A torn ACL cost Clemons her junior year. She missed the entirety of Bonner-Prendie’s memorable 16-win campaign, which ended in the third round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament.

“I just wanted to get back for my team,” said Clemons, a versatile 5-11 forward. “Do what I can and work hard.”

Clemons mentioned the mental hurdles she’s had to overcome to get back on the court. So far, she’s overcome those obstacles.

In Tuesday night’s thrilling 59-57 victory over Penn Wood, Clemons got stronger as the game wore on. She did most of her damage in the fourth quarter, helping the Pandas erase what had been a double-digit deficit.

In three games, Clemons is second on her team with 12.6 points per game.  By mid-January or so, she’ll have likely hit her stride. The Pandas are counting on her.

“She has great body control and she can shoot,” Stewart said. “She wants so much to help her teammates, and that’s fine, but sometimes good players just take over the game. She’s getting better and we know she’s going to be a good player for us.”

For three years, Alyssa Monaghan was the headliner and best player in Delaware County. This season, Clemons is the Pandas’ lone senior.  She’s a big part of a nice mix that includes juniors Caroline Manfre and Maggie McPeak, sophomore Nyah Garrison and freshman guard Maeve McCann, who has impressed in her first three varsity games. Garrison, a small forward/shooting guard, talked about being more aggressive in her second year on varsity. She’s been spectacular in the early going, averaging 15 points per game. Stewart calls Garrison one of the team’s best players.

“During the summer I played AAU ball with the Philly Freedom Stars, so I’ve been working a lot at trying to get my shot together, driving more and also being confident,” Garrison said. “That’s what was lacking last year, my confidence. That’s what has changed for me.”

Garrison and Clemons are both Chester kids, so they go back a bit. Their chemistry was evident several times Tuesday night when the two connected on several baskets.

“I’ve known her since I was younger,” Garrison said. “After last year, it’s nice having her back.”

With Clemons healthy again and the emergence of Garrison as a potent scoring threat, the Pandas are far from a team in transition. They act like a team that expects to compete for a Catholic League title.

“We’re a young team, but we’re going to be OK,” Stewart said. “We have a couple of new kids coming in and we’re inexperienced, but it’s a good situation.”

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Ryan Wolski knew coming into the 2015-16 — his first as head coach at Marple Newtown — that it would be a challenge.

The 2008 Cardinal O’Hara grad was an assistant under Mike Colgan last winter. That Marple Newtown team was led by 1,000-point scorer Rylee Power, who is a two-sport college athlete at West Chester.

Sophomore forwards Olivia Young and Halle Robinson are developing on the job, while senior guards Megan and Julia Lynch have provided experience and leadership to a Tigers team that has lost five of its first six decisions.

“I couldn’t ask for a better two seniors to build this team around,” Wolski said. “They’re playing their tails off, they’re working hard and I’m really happy having those two as my seniors to help the underclassmen get going.”

Wolski admits that he’s learning on the job, too, but his future as the head basketball coach at Marple Newtown is bright.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I helped Mike Colgan last year and he was awesome. He was a guy with 30 years of experience. I’m still learning and we’re all learning together. It’s a nice learning experience between the staff and I and all the girls. By the end of the year, I think we’ll have figured this thing out and get it rolling in the right direction. A lot of young players that have never been here before and, you know, the jump from JV to varsity is tough. We just have to keep working on it.”

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Radnor (3-2) has succeeded early in the season despite coach Mark Jordan’s ongoing search for a point guard. Jordan is leaving the position open for audition until someone takes a firm grasp of the role.

In the meantime, Jordan is loving the production he’s receiving from forwards Kristin Hamill and junior Allison Lanzone, who scored a career-high 23 points against Interboro Wednesday night. Hamil, Lanzone and small forward/guard Nicole Massimino are shouldering the load on the offensive side.

“We’ll get it together and be OK,” Jordan said.

It’s been proven time and time again that it’s never wise to underestimate Jordan’s team. Last year, the Raiders won all of their district playback games to qualify for the PIAA Class AAAA tournament for the first time.

To contact Matt Smith, email or follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith.

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