The Abington Friends School girls' basketball team has its sights set on repeating as Friends Schools League champions.
Last season, the Kangaroos were led by seniors Jade Young (Hartford), Khadijah Hickson (Nyack College), and Alyssa DeNofa (Mansfield). They beat Shipley in the FSL championship before losing to them in the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament. Shipley went on to win the PAISAA title.
Sophomore forward Paige Mott quickly became a leader on this year's team, and has the Kangaroos in prime position for another FSL crown. AFS, the No. 2 seed, will host Westtown in Tuesday's FSL semifinals.
"I think defensively Paige has done a good job of becoming a vocal leader for us," said Jeff Bond, who is in his seventh season as head coach at AFS.
The starting lineup consists of Mott, sophomore guard Kendall Hodges, sophomore guard Jordan Smith, freshman forward Zaniyyah Ross-Barnes, and eighth-grade guard Mihjae Hayes. Junior forward Natasha Holloway, junior guard Rosalie Rabin, junior guard Siana Wynn, sophomore forward Brianna Davis, freshman forward Aby Camarou, freshman guard Melanie Poppel, freshman forward Dylan Burney, and eighth-grade guard Meliah Van-Otoo round out a very balanced lineup.
"The cool thing about our team is we have zero seniors," said AFS head coach Jeff Bond. "We're hoping that balance will help in the playoffs."
The Kangaroos average 50 points per game and give up 39. Mott leads the team in points, rebounds, and blocks.
In addition to growing and learning together, the team has received inspiration from former AFS players. Alexa Middleton (Monmouth), Asia Turner (LIU Post), and Bianca Adams (Gwynedd Mercy) came back over winter break to talk and work with the team.
"The mindset is always let's try to build a championship team," said Bond. "Our first goal is always to win the Friends Schools League title. The secondary goal is going to the state tournament and trying to win."