Shipley advances to Independent final

Shipley's Nia Holland, who scored nine points, drives in for a layup. The Gators avenged an early-season defeat with the win over Penn Charter.
Shipley's Nia Holland, who scored nine points, drives in for a layup. The Gators avenged an early-season defeat with the win over Penn Charter. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 23, 2014

Sox Alexander slept a little bit later than usual on Friday morning.

The senior guard for the Shipley girls' basketball team woke up at 6:30 to take a bus to the regional rail. The St. John's signee has more than an hour's commute from her Northeast Philly home to the Bryn Mawr school, and on the day of Shipley's semifinal in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament, she got to school at 8:16.

By the time Alexander stepped on the court at Malvern Prep for the Gators' 54-33 win over Penn Charter, she admittedly had already had a "long day."

It was also a day she had been waiting for a very long time.

It wasn't just Alexander looking forward to a rematch with the Quakers (19-8), but the entire Shipley squad (21-5), as Penn Charter had defeated the Gators early in the season, 55-51.

"We started playing like a team, and we started sharing the ball more," Shipley's Nia Holland said. "Now, we get everyone involved."

Alexander (10 points) and Holland (nine) both did their part for the Gators, consistently getting to the rim, and the sharpshooting of Colleen Walsh really made a difference. The senior finished with 15 points, draining four three-pointers.

"I tell her to shoot the ball every single time she touches it," Alexander said. "I mean, it is ridiculous. Her range is crazy.

"She can shoot it from pretty much anywhere on the court."

Team defense kept the Quakers at arm's length the entire contest.

Alexis Hnatkowsky scored 11 points and Hannah Fox added eight to lead Penn Charter.

"It's a teachable moment," Quakers coach Dave Bass said.

"They will keep this in their minds next year, keep this taste and come out ready to play next year."

The Gators will look to win their second Independent Schools state championship in three years on Saturday, at 5 p.m. back at Malvern, when they face Germantown Academy.

The Patriots won their semifinal Friday, 43-31, over Episcopal Academy.

"To win [Saturday] would be the icing on the cake, and I can leave a happy, complete senior," Alexander said.

Penn Charter 6 9 9 9 - 33

Shipley 17 13 11 13 - 54

PC: Alexis Hnatkowsky 11, Hannah Fox 8, Ayanna Matthews 6, Camryn Gold 4, Miriyah Davis 2, Juliet Webb 2.

S: Colleen Walsh 15, Sox Alexander 10, Nia Holland 9, Courtney Redcross 9, Tenisha Pressley 6, Martine Fortune 4, Maya Overton 1.


rallysports@phillynews.com

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