The Moorestown Friends campus was busy on the afternoon of Jan. 22, with parents picking up children from 3 years old through 12th grade at campus buildings, a few of which date back to the Quaker school’s founding in 1785.
For basketball fans, it was a winding drive back to the parking lot at the tennis courts, then a short walk to the Mel and Diane Baiada Field House for a varsity game between the Palmyra Panthers and the Moorestown Friends Foxes.
Both teams stress defense and fundamentals emphasized by their coaches, Sean Brady for the Panthers and Mike Brunswick for the Foxes. That was evident in the game’s first quarter, as the players closely covered opponents. Palmyra’s Cadence Anderson opened the scoring with a layup and added a three-pointer to build an 11-3 lead. But the Foxes battled back, with Mikelle Smith nailing a big three-pointer to make the score 11-8 at the end of the quarter.
With crisp, quick passing to create quality shots, the Panthers scored 16 points in the second quarter as Anderson nailed three three-pointers. Kylie Hines was on defense, challenging plenty of shots. Smith answered for the Foxes with a three-pointer; center Marianna Wilson made a good move to the hoop for a bucket; and Ava Blumberg buried a three-pointer, making the score at halftime 27-16.
In the third quarter both teams started playing a press defense and the action was fast and furious. Leading the Panthers after the break were Ava Sims with three points, Anna Paszkiewicz with a bucket, and Amanda Gilmore scoring four points and completing a give and go with a pass to Anderson for a layup.
The Foxes were paced by point guard Sophia Rutherford scoring four points, Ida Ramos scoring a bucket and playing strong defense and Wilson attacking the basket from the top of the key.
The fourth quarter began with the Panthers leading, 46-28, and Palmyra got a spark of energy off the bench from Jada Coefield-Elie, who finished the game with 11 points. Smith answered again for the Foxes with a pair of three-pointers and Rutherford scored back-to-back buckets. But it wasn’t enough: The Panthers improved their record to 11-2 with a 62-40 victory.
Anderson, a senior who surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career two weeks ago, was the leading scorer with 23 points. She also pulled down 12 rebounds and had six assists. Rutherford led the Foxes with 13 points and Smith added 12 points, all on three-pointers.
The next big game for the Panthers will be on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 5:15 p.m. at Cinnaminson High School. Expect the stands to be packed as the two rivals attempt to win their respective divisions and make some noise in the NJSIAA state playoffs.