Five Girl’s Basketball Standouts from Main Line Private High Schools
The rosters are stacked with these five college-caliber players from Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, Shipley School, Episcopal Academy and Archbishop John Carroll High School.
Do anything with someone else for more than six years, and you’re going to get to know their habits and preferences. That’s why the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur’s Megan McGurk and Kathleen Fitzpatrick do so well together in the backcourt. They’ve been teammates since they both arrived in sixth grade and have played on the same Amateur Athletic Union team for just as long. So it makes sense they would complement each other.
What’s even better is that they aren’t the same type of player. For her first three years as point guard, McGurk had to be cajoled into shooting. Sometimes coach Mary Beth McNichol would even have to yell a bit. “She said I was hurting the team if I didn’t shoot,” McGurk says.
For her first three years on the wing, Fitzpatrick didn’t pass up too many shots. Once in a while, the call from the bench was to tone it down a little. “There are definitely some shots I shouldn’t have taken,” she confesses.
McGurk was headed in the right direction the minute she joined the varsity team as a ninth-grader. “She’s not a typical jump-out-of-the-building athlete, but she’s really good at sports,” McNichol says of McGurk, who also starts on the lacrosse team and was a soccer first-stringer as a freshman. “You have to see her a bunch of times to appreciate her. She’s not flashy, but she’s smart.”
That court savvy is a big reason McGurk will play for Bucknell University next year. She makes great decisions with the ball, is tough to guard off the dribble, and has that emerging shot. Even better, she likes to be in charge—a perfect condition for a point guard. “I don’t like other people telling me what to do,” she says.
Fitzpatrick was Notre Dame’s sixth player as a freshman but has handled the off-guard spot for the past two years. “She can flat-out shoot the three,” McNichol says. “And she has developed the other part of her game, too.”
Fitzpatrick was only five feet tall as a freshman, so she needed to be away from the hoop to score. Now that she’s added eight inches to her frame, she can be a more complete player—a big reason why she signed a letter of intent to attend Saint Joseph’s University. Fitzpatrick’s mom was an assistant for the Hawks five years ago, and that made the decision easier. “I absolutely love the school and the basketball program,” she says.
And, for now, she loves playing in the same backcourt as McGurk. “We really know each other’s game well,” she says.
Asking Tamesha “Sox” Alexander to point out her teammates’ shortcomings, chide them for their errors, or trade her omnipresent smile for a scowl is like asking a rainbow to dull its color. “I’m silly,” the junior Shipley School point guard says. “Now I have to be more aggressive.”
From the moment she started playing ball, Alexander has been a natural point guard, someone who delights in setting up teammates, rather than creating her own scoring opportunities. “She’s a great passer and floor general,” says fifth-year Shipley coach Sean Costello.
Alexander is a talented ball handler, to the point that it “looks like it’s attached to her hand,” says Costello.
That much was evident when Costello first started coaching her while she was a member of the under-11 Philadelphia Belles AAU team. It was then that he told Alexander she should consider Shipley—a far different world than her North Philadelphia home. “My mom liked that it was a private school,” Alexander says. “She’s all about education.”
Costello worried that Alexander might have trouble fitting in, a fear that evaporated. “Within a week, she knew everybody, and everybody knew her,” he says.
It didn’t hurt that she loved basketball and was able to talk sports—and once she hit the court, life got even easier for her. Alexander was an immediate standout for the Gators and attracted college interest quickly. This past summer, she committed to St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., citing affection for the coaching staff and a desire to be in an urban environment. “I like city life,” she says.
She’ll fit in well with the Red Storm, particularly if she continues to look for her own shot. Now, about those socks. Alexander earned her nickname thanks to her odd taste in footwear. “She has ridiculous socks,” Costello says.
Hence, Under Armour has provided Alexander with some unique gear to help her live up to her moniker. “I get compliments for my socks, even from referees,” she says.
Continued on page 2 ...
Follow the Leader
Sarah Curran’s two best friends were both mainstays from last year’s state title team at Archbishop John Carroll High School. Now, both are gone. For Curran, that means one thing. “Being a senior, I have to show the young players what Carroll basketball is,” she says.
And at the moment, Carroll basketball is quite successful. The Patriots won the 2012 championship and were Class AAAA runners-up in 2011. Curran—all five feet, 11 inches of her—played a big role on both teams and led the squad in scoring last year.
Now, Curran must evolve into a more versatile player while taking advantage of her athletic ability to become a more productive scorer. She’s already on her way to doing that, having improved her outside shot and work off the dribble.
“She’s gone from becoming a post player to where she can really run the floor,” says Carroll coach Chuck Creighton. “She can rebound the ball and be the first one down at the other end.”
As an example of Curran’s natural athletic ability, Creighton points to a play in last year’s state title game against Oakland Catholic. His daughter, Meghan, threw a pass from the far foul line to Curran, who was well on the other side of midcourt. She turned, caught the ball over her shoulder, took one dribble, and hit a layup. Simply put, Curran definitely didn’t resemble a post-bound player. “If you watch her play, you can tell she’s athletic,” Creighton says.
After leading Carroll’s efforts to repeat as district and state champions, Curran will play next year at Drexel University. Her aforementioned best friends, Meghan Creighton and Rachel Pearson, are fresh men there now, and they are big reasons why Curran chose the school—along with its strong academics. “I know whatever I go into, it’ll be good,” she says. “I love the coaches, and the team was so welcoming.”
Before she starts over, it’s time for Curran to lead the way this year at Carroll. She knows it’s time—and she’s ready to go.
By halftime, Episcopal Academy was down nine to Notre Dame, and Megan Quinn wasn’t happy. She’d scored nine points, which wasn’t bad. But she wasn’t doing everything she could, and she knew it.
“I wasn’t getting open enough and creating enough opportunities to help my team,” recalls Quinn. “In the second half, I got after offensive rebounds and treated every shot that was taken like a pass to me.”
The tactic worked. The six-foot, two-inch center scored 24 points after intermission and led EA to a big Inter-Ac victory. It showed the type of play Quinn is capable of—and not just because she’s tall. “She took control of the game,” says EA coach Chuck Simmonds.
This year, it’s up to Quinn to do that every time, and not just inside. The Villanova University signee is working on her game and her leadership. The idea is to be the all-around force she and Simmonds think she can be. EA uses Quinn to break the press. Granted, she looms over most opponents, but that’s not the only reason. “We could play her comfortably on the perimeter if we had to,” says Simmonds.
That’s one of the reasons Quinn likes her upcoming situation at Villanova. “It’s a perfect fit, because their center shoots from the outside, too,” she says.
Quinn has had designs on being a Wildcat since she was a kid growing up in Tredyffrin/Easttown schools. She also wants to go into business and plans to focus on that at Villanova.
This season, she’ll work on her outside shot and her ability to help carry the team. That’s a senior’s job. She’d also like to have more games like last year’s Notre Dame performance to keep Episcopal in the Inter-Ac hunt. “I’m excited for Villanova,” says Quinn. “But right now, my priority is finishing up strong.”
Read more about local prep school basketball standouts in MLT's March 2012 feature on Friends' Central's Amile Jefferson.