North Penn thriving through busy schedule

It’s been a busy stretch for the North Penn girls’ basketball team.

Saturday, at Lower Merion in the Kobe Bryant Boosters Classic, the Knights gutted out a tight game with Council Rock North, giving them their fifth win in an eight-day span. North Penn hasn’t lost since Jan. 5 but the schedule doesn’t let up this week with three more challenging games.

The Knights’ recent roll has been reflected in the District 1-6A power rankings, as North Penn jumped up to the No. 1 spot with Monday’s most up-to-date rankings.

“If anyone had told me before that we’d be going 5-0, I would have been surprised,” Knights senior Jess Huber said on Saturday. “I’m glad we pulled it out today, it just shows how much we fight and never give up.”

Huber was a big reason for North Penn’s surge, hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with about nine seconds left as part of a 12-point outing against CR North. Prior to that, the southpaw scored 20 points against Episcopal Academy at the Play-By-Play Classic at Philly U on Jan 15, then poured in 26 points against Central Bucks West West Tuesday and 23 against William Tennent Thursday.

Much of the team was battling various levels of sickness going back two weeks, and some of the players are still fighting off some lingering effects. That, coupled with the volume of games, has changed up the approach at practice.

“The great thing about having a lot of games in a week is we don’t have to run that much at practice,” senior guard Irisa Ye said. “That helps, and we do more skill work at practice instead of condition so we can keep our energy high.”

North Penn’s Jess Huber keeps the ball moving against Central Bucks East during their game on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

North Penn’s schedule this week features just one game in the Suburban One League Continental Conference, which has become quite a battle at the top of the standings. The Knights are tied with CB West, each having a 6-2 record while Souderton sits at 5-2 and Central Bucks South is 5-3 in the conference.

The Knights travel to Archbishop Carroll on Tuesday to start this week, then host Souderton on Friday for Senior Night then wrap up the week Sunday night at 7 p.m. when they face a very athletic Abington Friends School squad at Harriton in a Blue Chip Super Showcase.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Ye said. “We’re taking it game by game; keep the focus on the next game and then the next game after that.”


The District 1-6A boys rankings have a decidedly local flavor in the Top 10 of the most recent set.

Perkiomen Valley stayed at No. 1, while Plymouth Whitemarsh is second, Abington is fourth, Cheltenham eighth and North Penn in ninth. Abington travels to Cheltenham on Thursday for their annual backyard rivalry game, and as usual, it is shaping up to be a good one.

Cheltenham took one in the Ghosts’ gym last year in back-and-forth, entertaining game that had a late-round district game feel. The Panthers have a much different roster, but have been playing great ball and Thursday’s game is the first part of a tough back-to-back with Wissahickon coming in the next night.

Expect a packed gym for Thursday’s game.

North Penn, which still has its sights on an SOL Continental title, has a nice mid-week non-league test when it heads to District 1-5A No. 5 Upper Merion. The Vikings have the size and athletes that can match up with North Penn.

Plymouth Whitemarsh hosts Upper Dublin on Tuesday and has a big game on the road at No. 24 Hatboro-Horsham on Friday. The Hatters need all the wins they can to stay in the district playoff hunt and they will be amped up to try and take down the SOL American frontrunner. The Colonials have one last game this week, traveling out to the Harrisburg area to take on Trinty, one of the top 3A teams in the state as part of a showcase.


There’s a certain allure to a long heave shot right before the buzzer.

When they go in, the crowd loves it and it’s a good way to get a highlight of note. But they’re very rarely a good shot or very successful. For a long time, Archbishop Wood senior guard Cassie Sebold took a lot of shots like that, longer 3-pointers right before the horn.

She also heard a lot about it from her coaches.

So when she received an inbound pass with 6.8 seconds left in the first quarter of the Vikings’ game with Cardinal O’Hara on Friday, Sebold didn’t throw up a hopeful rocket at the buzzer. She drove the length of the floor with determination, got fouled, made the layup and capped it with a free throw.

“That play was gigantic,” Wood coach Mike McDonald said. “It really was not a good first quarter for us and that play was gigantic, it put us right back in the game. She had another finish at the end of the third which was big too, she played well.”

Archbishop Wood’s Cassie Sebold works to dribble past Bishop McDevitt’s Nyah Johnson during their game on Wednesday,  Jan. 4, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Sebold, who is committed to play at Chestnut Hill next year, is a solid outside shooter. She’s also worked hard at becoming a better finisher at the rim and has the speed to cover a lot of court quickly.

“Coach Mike kind of yells at me sometimes because I tend to chuck it up for a 3,” Sebold said. “So, I knew I had to take it to the basket.”

Sebold’s layup in the third quarter was similar, driving right to the rim and getting the shot to drop with three seconds left and giving Wood a five-point lead. The score followed a 3-point shot by junior Katie May that broke a 19-19 tie and gave Wood the lead for good in its eventual 34-20 win.

“She’s a leader,” McDonald said. “She’s going to Northeastern and that’s a really good fit for her. She’s a Division I player, she has the build and skillset but even more, she’s a coach for everyone else on the floor. She’s easy to communicate with because she studies the game and watches a lot of basketball at all levels.”


Abington Friends has three senior captains this year, with every other player on the roster and sophomore or freshman.

If any of those underclassmen need an example of how important it is to work hard and do a little bit of everything on the floor, they need to only to look at guard Alyssa DeNofa. DeNofa scored 12 points in the Kangaroos loss to Life Center Academy on Saturday and did it on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting and 2-of-2 foul shooting performance.

Against Life Center, DeNofa pulled down six rebounds and had a great play in the fourth quarter where she ripped down a contested offensive board under the rim then kicked out for a layup.

“The way Alyssa has really grown for us is she has made herself into a good high school defender,” Roos coach Jeff Bond said. “She’s able to get to spots and stop penetration, she’s also a great gap defender.”

Her co-captains, senior Khadijah Hickson and Jade Young, are rim attackers and the two with the ball in their hands most of the time, so DeNofa plays a perfect complement as someone ready to find a spot and knock down a few shots.

The senior finished Saturday’s with a big scratch on her left shoulder that left a long red mark. She wore it as a badge of honor.

“She’s grown in this role to where’s a solid secondary offensive threat for us and a solid defender,” Bond said. “She’s just a fantastic leader for us. She’s loved the game as long as I’ve known her and I’m just so happy that this year has been so positive for her.”


Archbishop Wood boys basketball has been on a tear since early January and the Vikings have quite the test coming up on Thursday when they take on Neumann-Goretti. The game is being played at Archbishop Ryan with a 7:30 p.m. tip off.

Goretti has been a mainstay both at the top of the Philadelphia Catholic League and state for the last decade, both levels the Vikings are hoping to reach. Wood coach John Mosco knows it better than anyone, having served as a longtime assistant for the Saints before taking over the Vikings.

The headliner is the point guards, with recently-minted Villanova commit Collin Gillespie of Wood going up against Kentucky recruit and freshly-named McDonald’s All-American Quade Green. Gillespie will also be facing off against a future teammate in Goretti big man Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, who has also pledged to play at Villanova.

Goretti is the last unbeaten team in the PCL. Wood had one loss heading into Monday’s game at Cardinal O’Hara and was a half-game behind Roman Catholic, also with one loss in league play, for second place in the standings.

Roman’s sole PCL loss so far was to Neumann-Goretti, and the Cahillites face Wood on Feb. 10.

Top Photo:  North Penn’s Irisia Ye gets squeezed between Central Bucks East’s Megan Browne and Briana Talbot during their game on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

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