Quietly, Chiefs make some pretty big noise

Posted: February 04, 2010

It may have gone unnoticed in some places because two of the wins were against teams outside the seven-county South Jersey area, but Cherokee quietly enjoyed one of the finest weeks of the girls' basketball season.

On Saturday, Cherokee beat St. John Vianney, 41-38, handing the Lancers only their second loss of the season. St. John Vianney is ranked No. 6 in the state by the Newark Star Ledger.

On Sunday, the Chiefs beat Philadelphia's Archbishop Ryan, 51-46. It was just Ryan's third loss in 17 games.

And Tuesday the Chiefs beat The Inquirer's No. 5 team, Cherry Hill East, 60-45.

None of this should come as a surprise, because Cherokee was ranked No. 3 last week and is again today by The Inqurier.

The Chiefs are 12-4, with two losses to No. 2 Lenape and one to No. 1 Eastern. What this recent runs shows is that the Chiefs will join both of those teams as a major threat in what should be a competitive South Jersey Group 4 tournament.

"Anytime a team can get three wins against three very good teams, the confidence of the team naturally goes up," Cherokee coach Shannon Bretz said. "We have tried to focus on each game and then move forward."

Cherokee has won six in a row since a 65-47 loss to Lenape on Jan. 19. In that game, senior guard/forward Monica Roeder played sparingly after suffering a thigh injury.

Roeder has since returned, and the Manhattan recruit has elevated her game. In the three recent wins, she averaged 16.6 points.

"She has worked tirelessly on improving her defense throughout the season, and it has finally clicked with her," Bretz said. "Her defensive intensity has led to her offensive productivity."

Cherokee is a veteran team. Besides Roeder there are three other seniors who started last year. Forward Tiffany Turner is a terrific inside player. Amanda Franks is an unsung point guard, and Courtney Escudero, who scored 18 points in the win over East, can score inside or outside.

The Chiefs could have headed south after the second loss to Lenape but instead went in another direction.

"This team picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and refocused, in particularly on defense," Bretz said. "I am very, very proudof our team." 

Record breaker. Deptford senior guard Samantha Morris is on the verge of becoming her school's all-time leading scorer. The Philadelphia University-bound Morris has 1,672 career points. Deptford's record is held by Lasheena Martin, with 1,709.

This season, Morris is averaging 22.8 points for the 12-2 Spartans, who lead the Tri-County Royal Division with a 6-1 mark after Tuesday's 50-45 win over Williamstown. Kingsway and Williamstown have both lost twice in the division.

Deptford visits Kingsway today at 4 p.m. in a key Royal Division matchup.

Unsung player. Sterling junior guard Kylie O'Donnell is a major perimeter threat, but there is much more to her game as evidenced by Tuesday's 67-45 win over Haddon Heights.

O'Donnell scored just two points, but had 13 assists and six rebounds.

"She is a totally unselfish player," coach Kate McDonald said.

That unselfishness goes throughout the entire team. Five players have either tied or led in game scoring honors for the 12-3 Silver Knights.

Second time around. Rematches among Olympic Conference National Division teams have had a different look among the better teams.

For instance, Paul VI defeated Bishop Eustace, 52-47, on Tuesday after losing to the Crusaders, 51-45, in their first meeting.

"We're relatively young, and earning a signature win like that really will help our confidence," Paul VI coach Donna Harris said.

The Eagles are 10-6 after going 13-14 last season. While senior Kerri Weber has been a consistent double-figure scorer, the younger players have stepped up, led by 6-foot-1 sophomore Adrianne Small.

"Adrianne keeps working hard and is getting better each game," Harris said.

Another interesting National Division rematch found Camden Catholic beating Camden, 68-67, in overtime Tuesday. Earlier this season Camden Catholic beat the Panthers, 60-39.

It shows how much Camden has improved, but also put Camden Catholic clearly in the driver's seat. The Irish have clinched at least a tie for the division title and need just one win in their final three National Division games to take the division outright.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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