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With the end of Winter Break comes a brand new year with plenty of exciting opportunities for our Penn Charter teams to shine. Before we start chronicling these 2023 athletic efforts, let’s take a look at how some of these teams fared during the holiday season.

The Penn Charter boys basketball team began a new win streak over break, winning their final four games of 2022 to push their overall record to 13-1 heading into the New Year. The team hosted the Speedy Morris Invitational on Dec. 22 in the Graham, defeating the Simon Gratz Bulldogs 71-28. Day two of the tournament named for legendary Hall of Fame coach Speedy Morris, who led PC’s basketball team in the 1980s, was canceled due to inclement weather. 


PC boys basketball player attempts a layup in the lane

“We cannot ever underestimate the opponent and their strengths,” coach Dave Bass said. “Everybody on the team has a job on the court to take care of. In the games since [the team’s last loss on Dec. 20], we’ve zoned in a little more on that.”

After the tournament, the Quakers headed south for the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational, a three-day showcase featuring multiple teams from Florida, as well as squads from Ohio, Kentucky and the Bahamas. Penn Charter earned three wins in three days and returned to Philadelphia as tournament champions. All of the wins came against Florida schools: a 60-49 win over Barron Collier on Dec. 29; a 66-63 overtime thriller over Miami Palmetto on Dec. 30; and a 57-43 championship victory against Downey Christian on New Year’s Eve. 

Sophomore Kai Shinholster continued his consistent play this season by winning MVP of the tournament. His older brother, senior Trey, was especially strong on the defensive end while being assigned to cover each opponent’s best player. Senior guard Keith Gee made some big shots in the OT win, while reigning Inter-Ac Player of the Year Mark Butler shined in the title game, calmly sinking 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to help seal the narrow win.

“Our senior leadership was poised and confident and persevered through adversity,” Bass said. “Our competition was very good, and that overtime game was incredible — we’ve been in three overtime games already this season and won them all.”

Beyond the three wins on the court, the multi-day trip also did wonders for the team’s camaraderie away from the hardwood. While this is a veteran group that features many players who have been playing together for a few years, there are also some fresh faces, and a trip like this allows the team to bond.

Bass said the boys didn’t want a strict itinerary in which all off-court activities were pre-programmed. They spent time hanging out with one another at the beach while also attending some of the PC girls basketball games, who were also in Tampa playing in the same tournament.

“A lot of these kids know each other, but [the trip's activities] also provided the younger and newer kids an opportunity to have more of a voice,” Bass said. “Everyone felt like they were a part of it.”


pc girls basketball player holds the ball and looks for a pass

The Penn Charter girls basketball team has already played teams from Maryland, North Carolina and New Jersey. After the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational, Florida and Kentucky were added to that list. Further tests against a Washington, D.C. school, as well as top-flight local teams from the city and its surrounding suburbs, await in the new year

“Going into the season, I knew we weren’t going to go undefeated,” coach Joe Maguire said. “I wanted challenges in the schedule. It’s good for us to test ourselves to see if we can compete nationally while revealing the little things that we need to continue to work on.”

Before Tampa, the girls welcomed Abington High School — a team that was 12-2 overall at the time of this writing — to Penn Charter for the Speedy Morris Invitational, dropping a close 67-63 contest to push PC’s overall record to 4-3 on the season. The girls then jetted south for three games in four days — a 57-45 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) on Dec. 28; a 68-60 overtime defeat at the hands of DME National (FL) on Dec. 30; and a 44-37 loss to George Rogers Clark (KY). 

While the losses were frustrating, Maguire said that the Quakers were in every game. They trailed the first one 46-45 before hitting a cold shooting streak, with St. Thomas Aquinas closing the contest on a 13-0 run; the overtime game may have gone differently had PC not missed 13 free throws; and the final contest was played at 8:30 a.m. after the overtime game the night before.

“We had complete effort in every game, but some of the little things we need to perfect are not there yet,” Maguire said. “Everyone had some really good moments, and there were others we could have done differently, myself included.”

Despite going 0-3, Maguire said the Florida trip was a high point for the team. Not only did the Quakers get to test themselves against great competition outside of Pennsylvania, but they also got to travel on an airplane together and spend a few days outside of their natural environments. 

For the veteran players such as Bella Toomey, Gracie Shoup and Aleah Snead, it was also another opportunity to put their leadership stamp on a program that has achieved a sustained run of success over the last couple of seasons. Others, such as eighth grader Ryan Carter and sophomore Kaylinn Bethea, got to spend valuable time with upperclass students away from the court.

“I’m a big proponent of these trips,” said Maguire, in his eighth year as head coach. “There are kids from all over the area, so having this time together is good. There’s good life lessons, and it benefits us both this year and next year moving forward as a valuable experience for our 10 underclass students.”

Penn Charter competed in the Ralph Wetzel Classic, a two-day event hosted by Hatboro-Horsham High School on Dec. 28-29. The Quakers finished in ninth place overall out of 33 participating teams with a total of 98.5 points. Catholic League squad Conwell-Egan won the event with 209 points.

Sophomore Greyson Catlow-Sidler continued his strong start to the season, picking up four wins and the first first-place finish of his high school career. Catlow-Sidler pinned Nathan Hughes of St. Mark’s (DE) in round two and Beknazar Baiyshbekov of Neshaminy in the quarterfinals before upsetting number-one seed Jack Duffy of Tower Hill (DE) 12-9. Catlow-Sidler prevailed 15-6 over Christopher Staub of Hatboro-Horsham in the championship round.

“Grey continues to build upon a strong start to his sophomore season,” Shaifer said. “His ability to hit big moves makes him a dangerous opponent in every match.”

PC wrestler holds down opponent with arm behind back move

Other PC wrestlers who picked up multiple wins at the event include junior Jack Bowen (three wins at 160); senior George Glomb (five wins in six matches at 189); and junior C.J. English (four wins in five attempts at 285). George Glomb secured a third-place finish by pinning George Washington’s Daniel Shulgin in 50 seconds (after Shulgin had pinned him earlier in the event), while English also finished third by prevailing in a tight 3-2 decision over Lower Merion’s Temitayo Seyi-David. Bowen dropped his third-place match 12-1 to Neshaminy’s Ernazar Baiyshbekov.

“Bowen had a strong showing at his natural weight, placing fourth and wrestling tough in all his bouts while sticking to his game plan,” coach Peter Shaifer said. “George recovered from a disappointing loss to wrestle through the consolation bracket back to third place — there is no question about his desire to win. 

“CJ has been an awesome addition to our program, getting yet another high finish in a deep heavyweight bracket. We are extremely excited to see him in the second half of the year.”


The relay team for PC boys indoor track wear cleats over shoulders and are serious for the camera

Steve Bonnie’s boys indoor track team competed in TFCAofGP Meet #3 back on Dec. 22 at Lehigh University with several strong showings, as the youthful Quakers continue to make tremendous strides from week to week.

The 4x200 team of sophomores Jaxon Adams, Ben Zabierek and Mason Knight and freshman Jaden Black scored a second-place finish with a time of 1:42.30. Elsewhere, the distance medley relay team of senior Jack Frank, junior Eddie Kennedy and sophomores Nate Johnson and TJ Zwall also placed second, finishing their event in 11:15.85. 

In other track events, freshman Peyton Burnett continued his solid start to the season, placing 10th in the one-mile run (5:27.57), while Adams finished 19th in the 200m at 24.88.

In field events, senior Christian Black had another good showing in the long jump, finishing in sixth place (19-8). Finally, juniors Owen Larrabee and Matthew Martz continued to impress in the shot put, with Larrabee placing fourth (39-7) and Martz not far behind in 10th (31-7.5). 


Alli DeLisi in her penn charter uniform holds cleats over her shoulder

Unfortunately for head coach Candice Lee’s girls indoor track program, inclement weather canceled DVGTCA Meet #3, which was scheduled for Dec. 23 at Lehigh. Luckily, a pair of student-athletes didn’t have to wait until 2023 to compete again, as Lee took sophomores Alli DeLisi and Mariah Mays to compete in The Armory High School Holiday Classic in New York City on Dec. 29, a quick detour from the familiar venues of Lehigh and Alvernia back home.

“This meet has good competition due to it being over the holidays, with people traveling from different states to compete,” Lee said. 

DeLisi’s star continued to shine during her brilliant sophomore season that has featured a plethora of top finishes, first in cross country during the fall and now in indoor track. In New York, DeLisi earned a first-place finish in the 800m with a time of 2:17.40. She placed second in the 400m dash in 58.98.

Meanwhile, Mays finished second in the shot put with a distance of 32-7.75.

“Both athletes competed very well, especially with it being so early in the season,” Lee said. “This was actually Mariah’s first meet. I was very impressed with both of their performances, especially competing against other individuals from outside of the state.”

Both boys and girls squash teams, as well as the boys and girls swimming and diving squads, were idle from competition over winter break. We’ll catch up with all four of these squads in the next SportsZone.

Editor’s note: This SportsZone report covers athletic contests that took place between December 22-31. Next week’s update will cover the first two weeks of January — athletic contests played between Jan. 3-15.

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