WILDWOOD - It took just four seconds for the Middle Township High School girls basketball team to score against Germantown Friends School (Pa.) on Saturday at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic at Wildwoods Convention Center.

There was more to come.

Middle stayed aggressive in the first quarter to take a 17-point lead in the John Carlson Memorial Girls Bracket semifinal game, and the Panthers settled for a 51-21 victory.

Middle junior guard Kelsey McCusker drove to the basket off the opening tap and the Panthers quickly were in control. McCusker finished with 14 points, as did

Tamara Gonnam, who had eight in the opening quarter. Middle led 20-3 after eight minutes.

Gonnam shot 7-for-10 from the field.

"We're a good passing team and we've been playing together a long time," Gonnam, a 5-10 senior forward, said. "Some of us have played together since we were five."

Middle Township meets Seneca High School at 4 p.m. today in the Carlson bracket championship game. Seneca matched Middle's domination Saturday by beating Mainland Regional 52-25 in the bracket's other first-round game.

"We watched the (Seneca-Mainland) game beforehand, and they were a good team, so we'll have to come out strong," Gonnam said.

McCusker (5-for-8 from the field) added four steals, while 5-foot-11 forward/center Megan Russ had a game-high eight rebounds.

"We ran the press at the beginning and tried to make them play our tempo," Russ said. "Once we got up, we pulled back a little bit."

Philadelphia area high schools begin their season sooner than southern New Jersey teams. The Tigers are 1-6, while Middle Township is 2-0.

Middle Township coach John Leahy was able to give all 11 players at least six minutes of playing time.

"It was good to get all the kids in the game because they work so hard," Leahy said. "It was also good because I was able to rest my key players, so they'll have their legs (today). Seneca is a good team, and obviously well-coached, so we'll have to play well for 32 minutes."

Germantown Friends fell behind 20-2 late in the first quarter but played better in the final 24 minutes. Shelby Tucker scored eight points and had five steals for the Tigers, and Iris Williamson had seven rebounds.

GFS is coached by James Jordan, who played basketball for La Salle University before graduating in 2001.

"They get a little tenative in the beginning of games, and once they get warmed up they play pretty well," Jordan, a first-year coach, said of his team. "We have to start playing well from the beginning. We're a young team. Once I told them to go out and have fun, they did better."

Contact Guy Gargan:


Germantown Friends 3 6 5 7 - 21

Middle Township 20 8 9 14 - 51

GF-Williamson 1 3-4 5, Tucker 2 4-9 8, A. Clark 1 0-0 2, DiDio 0 0-0 0, Janzen 2 2-6 6, Alig 0 0-0 0, McKnight 0 0-0 0, Mercuris 0 0-0 0. Totals-6 9-19 21.

MT-Fowler 2 0-2 5, McCusker 5 3-5 14, Kelly 2 0-0 4, Russ 2 0-0 4, Gonnam 7 0-0 14, Ay 2 1-2 6, V. Clark 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Startare 0 0-0 0, Roberts 1 0-0 2, Smolka 0 2-2 2. Totals-21 7-10 51.

3-pointers-Fowler, McCusker MT.

Records-Middle 2-0; GFS 1-6.