WHITEMARSH >> Jessica Moore loves basketball and she loves Germantown Academy.
So it’s no surprise the senior is really enjoying this final opportunity to play for the Patriots’ girls basketball program, even if it’s only for a limited time. While Moore’s time at GA is coming to a close, for most of her teammates, it’s only just beginning.
Moore and classmates Charlotte DiLello and Elise Smigiel celebrated their Senior Day with a 59-20 win over Springside Chestnut Hill on Tuesday.
“Basketball is a lifeline for me, I love it,” Moore said after scoring 11 points. “I live, sleep and breathe it. It’s so much fun having this opportunity and honestly, it felt amazing getting back on the court.”
Moore, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard has the distinction of being the most experienced player on this year’s version of the Patriots. Her older brother Julian, a 2013 GA grad, went on to play at Penn State and Jessica is planning to extend her career after this season but for now, she’s focused on leading the youthful Patriots through their month-long sprint of a season.
DiLello, a scrappy guard heading to Ursinus to play basketball and softball alongside older sister Sarah, a 2020 GA Grad, has been a rotation player the past two seasons. Smigiel is the newcomer of the senior class, a first-year basketball player but the 6-foot forward is a talented athlete committed to Marquette for lacrosse.
From there, outside of sophomore center Kendall Bennett, it’s a very new group at GA.
“Everyone has a lot of raw talent,” Moore said. “It’s been really nice to see just how hungry everyone is and they’re always ready to step on the court. We have a really high energy and it’s been great being around them.”
The names may be new, but they’re fitting right in. Sophomore Josie Munson is a new arrival, transferring in from Colorado over the summer while twins Jenna and Jessica Aponik, guard Sam Wade and Isabelle Casey are freshmen.
In her previous three years with the Patriots, Moore has played with numerous 1,000 point scorers, all Inter-Ac and all-state picks and college players. Even without a chance to compete for an Inter-Ac or PAISAA title this winter, the senior wants to pass on that accumulated knowledge.
“Talking with Coach (Sherri) Retif even before the season started, for me it was mainly about leadership and building my character as a human being,” Moore said. “I’m trying to teach them all I can, just the important of the little things.”
The Inter-Ac has given all its teams a hard deadline that all winter competitions be completed by March 27 and although there’s no official title on the line, everyone is taking their shot at knocking off the Patriots this winter. GA improved to 2-2 after Tuesday’s win, with a season-opening loss at Penn Charter snapping a 46-game win streak against Inter-Ac opponents.
Being the team to beat isn’t something that can be taught and part of Moore’s teaching this winter is helping her teammates getting that first experience of it learn to handle that bull’s eye.
“GA has this target on its back because of that longstanding history,” Moore said. “I’ve told them they need to be strong and confident in the name on your jersey.”
Bennett, who was a key part of the rotation on last year’s Inter-Ac title team, led all scorers with 14 points as she continues to grow as a player in her first season as a starter. DiLello scored six and Smigiel added five as they both got the start next to Moore and finished the game out together.
Wade scored nine to pace the underclassmen newcomers, Munson chipped in eight, Casey had three and Jessica Aponik scored three points with three assists.
No matter how far away or how many years removed, GA players never drift too far from the program. With her freshman season at Harvard not happening this winter due to the Ivy League not competing, 2020 graduate Elle Stauffer is helping out around the program.
The Patriots have three more games scheduled, all at home, starting with Thursday’s visit from Episcopal Academy. Moore is very confident her teammates have a bright future ahead that includes Inter-Ac and PAISAA titles and she’s glad to be a part of helping them build that foundation.
“We’re trying to get better and go undefeated through these past few games,” Moore said. “That’s a really big thing for us, so we have to keep improving on defense and continue to score and be aggressive.”
GERMANTOWN ACADEMY 59, SPRINGSIDE CHESTNUT HILL 20
GERMANTOWN ACADEMY 19 17 15 8 – 59
SPRINGSIDE CHESTNUT HILL 2 5 5 8 – 20
GA: Jessica Moore 4 0-0 11, Elise Smigiel 2 1-2 5, Kendall Bennett 7 0-0 14, Jessica Aponik 1 0-0 3, Charlotte DiLello 2 2-2 6, Josie Munson 3 2-3 8, Sam Wade 4 1-2 9, Isabella Casey 1 1-1 3. Totals: 24 7-10 59
SCH: Ava Chavez 4 0-0 10, Caroline Chiliberti 3 0-0 8, Tatyana Hall 0 2-2 2, Zahkiyyah Frazier 0 0-2 0. Totals: 7 2-4 20
3-pointers: GA – Moore 3, Aponik; SCH – Chavez 2, Chiliberti 2.