MOORESTOWN – It’ s not very often that the Moorestown Friends School girls basketball team is included in the discussion about the best squads in South Jersey.
But that is the case with this season. With players like senior Charlotte Stern and the Runyan sisters, Alyssa and Bella, forming the nucleus, the Foxes have been projected as a top 10 team.
They opened their season on Monday night in an early South Jersey Basketball Invitational Tournament game and did nothing to quiet pundits.
Bella Runyan and Stern scored 25 points each as the Foxes pulled away with a massive run in the second half to turn back Seneca 63-37 in their season opener.
For one game at least, Mike Brunswick was happy with what he saw.
“If we can be healthy the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “We’ll compete for a Friends League title this year, but we want to play game in and game out and not have any letdowns and play to our competition.”
If early indications mean anything, the Foxes seem to have a potent 1-2 offensive punch in Stern and Bella Runyan, both of whom showed up around the basket and from long range.
Among Stern’s output were five 3-point goals, while Runyan added four from long range.
“Charlotte and Bella have the green light,” said Brunswick. “I’ll tell them when I don’t like a shot they take, but whatever. . . ”
The coach says he’s seen a of progress in Stern’s play during the course of her career at the school.
“She has developed into a really nice player,” he said. “Her skills were defined early, but she’s fine tuned them. This year she’s really developed into a leader.”
Bella and Alyssa are the daughters of former Eagles tackle Jon Runyan and their athletic genes are evident.
Alyssa contributed six points, but played a terrific floor game, and made her presence felt throughout the game.
“(The Runyans) are fast and athletic,” Brunswick said. “They run, they jump, they shoot, they play defense. They’re uptempo. A lot of game is uptempo – push the ball. It allows the rest of our team to really focus on what they have to do.”
While the scoring depth wasn’t evident on Monday, Alyssa Runyan spoke about how the Foxes have a lot of players who can put the ball in the basket.
“I think offense is our strength,” she said. “We have three amazing players, but we have a lot of people who can come off the bench too. We can go sixth, seventh and eighth men coming off the bench. I just think we’re really strong.”
Like their coach, the players have a lot of expectations for the season.
“It’s pretty cool to be considered one of the best teams in South Jersey,” said Bella. “We never have been before, so we’re being pretty humble. We take pride in it, but we can’t let it go to our heads. Seneca could have easily beaten us if we didn’t come out strong.”
Stern thinks depth and experience will be the key to the Foxes’ success.
“We have everybody coming back, so we’re just trying to pick up where we left off from last year,” Stern said. “Obviously we had to dust off some of the rust, but I think we’ll be good moving along.”
Stern was referring to the fact that it took a while for the Foxes to find their rhythm. They led only 33-29 early in the third quarter, but then went on a 30-4 run.
Stern and Bella Runyan began the run by exchanging 3-point goals as the Foxes extended their lead to 39-29,
Then the two combined to extend the lead to 45-41 by the end of their third quarter as Bella connected for two free throws and Stern scored two baskets.
Stern and Bella combined to score four points to begin the fourth quarter and the rout was on.
Rachel Roseboro led Seneca with 13 points, including three 3-point goals.
Seneca 13 8 10 6 - 37
Moorestown Friends 12 16 17 18 - 63
Seneca: Jenna Birnbohm-Wisninski 2, Hanna Orth 1, Rachele Roseboro 13, Erin Williams 2, Megan Glenn 10 Hannah Chaney 9.
Moorestown Friends: Kayla Golas 9, Jamie Phillips 2, Megan Roberts 3, Allyson Runyan 6, Bella Runyan 25, Charlotte Stern 25.