Charlotte Stern goes from Moorestown to the Maccabiah Games

Charlotte Stern at the Maccabiah Games-09012018-0002
Charlotte Stern (left) of Moorestown Friends plays defense for Team USA at the Maccabiah Games in the summer.

The trip, even now, stays on her mind.

She remembers floating in the Dead Sea and crawling under water caves in Jerusalem and making new friends from around the world.

It helped mold her, she said, into a more well-rounded person, and it added nuance to her basketball skills.

She now knows what it’s like to play with a shot clock.

And her three-point range is just a little deeper because, in Israel this past summer at the Maccabiah Games, the line was few steps farther back.

“So I got used to shooting from longer distance — which my coach doesn’t always like,” Charlotte Stern said with a laugh.

And he’d probably like it a lot less if Stern didn’t make those shots with such regularity.

But a surefire three-point stroke is just part of Stern’s arsenal — on and off the court — that might be surprising to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to her and her Moorestown Friends girls’ basketball team.

For one, at a powerful 6-feet tall, Stern looks the part of a model post player at the high school level. Not so. She has one of the softest touches from deep — and one of the longest ranges — of any player in South Jersey. She can dominate the paint, but don’t call her a post player.

“I actually hate that label,” she said.

Stern plays on a team that isn’t exactly known as a breeding ground for girls’ basketball.

But take a closer look and this year’s Foxes are one of the most explosive, well-rounded teams in the state.

And Stern, who spent the summer as leading scorer and rebounder for team U.S.A. girls’ basketball in a silver-medal performance at the Maccabiah Games in Israel,  averages 22.7 points and nine rebounds per game for Moorestown Friends.

“We feel like as a team, we’ve grown on and off the court — our chemistry is great this year,” Stern said. “I know I’m trying to be leader this year, and we’re determined to make this the best season the school has ever seen.”

Stern has been a star for the Foxes since her freshman season, but she’s taken marked steps forward each year. And so has her team.

In addition to Stern, Moorestown Friends features a dynamic duo in sisters Alyssa, a senior, and Isabella, a sophomore, Runyan — daughters of former Eagles great Jon Runyan. The team finished 21-5 last year and was a team on the rise.

But this is the season they’ve waited for.

“I think they’re enjoying it — this doesn’t happen every day especially for girls’ basketball at Moorestown Friends,” said coach Mike Brunswick. “Everybody has gotten better. And Charlotte has improved her game. Nobody wants to be that weak link on this team. Everybody is working hard and they’re not resting.”

For Stern the opportunity to play in the Maccabiah Games was something of a reward for years of dedication to the sport. She actually competed alongside her brother, Jack, a junior at Moorestown Friends who played for team U.S.A. in boys’ basketball.

“It was the coolest things I’ve ever done,” said Stern who had played in the junior Maccabiah Games for years and was ultimately asked to tryout for Team U.S.A in Sept. 2016.

It just reaffirmed that her hard work, often spending hours just by herself working on her game, were worth the sacrifice. Stern, who wants to play in college but is undecided on where, says she wasn’t always a strong three-point shooter. But she would spend hours a day perfecting her shot — determined to improve her game.

And that’s one of the biggest assets she brings to Moorestown Friends — a sense of not being being complacent, of trying to take her game, literally and figuratively to new heights and new places.

“We’re just trying to keep growing,” Stern said. “We are not used to being one of the big teams in the area. … So I think we’re looking forward to showing South Jersey how good we really are.”