Eight games into the season, Nicolette Ciocari says she isn't consumed with The Perkiomen School's post season chances.
"Right now I'm not concerned about that," said Ciocari, a senior from Skippack. "I feel like it's out of my control. I'm having fun playing no matter what."
On Monday, Ciocari led the Panthers to a 26-17 victory over Kimberton Waldorf School in the Tri-County Independent School League. She scored a team-high 13 points.
Helena Tang and Halle Brown each added four points for The Perkiomen School (3-1 league, 3-5 overall), which reeled off 10 consecutive points in the second half to snap an 11-11 tie.
Offense has been a struggle for the team, according to first-year head coach Nikki Duggan. She described Monday's total as one of its best outputs of the season.
"Putting the ball in the basket has been a challenge," said Duggan, a 2009 graduate of Emmaus High School who played soccer and basketball at Cabrini College. "We have some girls who have never played the game before, so there's a lot of teaching involved. But we have a real good group of girls who have a great attitude."
Maddy Parisi, the team's point guard, and Hannah Chiesa are the most experienced returners. Ciocari missed half of last season with an injury, and Hannah Tang missed most of last season with a knee injury.
Against the Cougars, Perkiomen School's girls basketball team featured a pair of ninth graders: Abby Glavin and Marina Fitzner, a German exchange student who is leaving the school at the end of January, according to Duggan.
Ciocari called Glavin, the goal keeper on the girls soccer team, an excellent athlete. "There was some question about whether or not Abby was going to end up on the JV or the varsity," Ciocari said. "But she easily made the cut."
After building an early 8-0 lead, the Panthers managed just one basket in the second quarter. They led 11-6 early in the third quarter.
However, the Kimberton Waldorf School scored five consecutive points to force an 11-11 tie late in the quarter.
Ciocari's layup, off a Parisi assist, sparked The Perkiomen School's decisive run. Brown followed with a layup on a pass from Emalee Walsh to put the team ahead 15-11 at the end of the third.
A 3-point shot by Ciocari from the left wing opened the scoring. Glavin delivered a foul shot, and Parisi's layup early in the fourth quarter capped the 10-0 flurry for the Panthers, who have won three of their last four games and were scheduled to take on Collegium Charter School on Wednesday.
Duggan said one of her top priorities is to maintain a positive atmosphere, especially since the team continues to struggle from the field.
"I was a shooter, so I know what it feels like when the shots don't fall," the coach said. "On those days, the key is to control the things you can like hustling and playing good defense."
Marina Fitzner (left) and Nicolette Ciocari (right) reach for a rebound for The Perkiomen School during a win over the Kimberton-Waldorf School.