Penn Charter, which some observers think could wrest the Inter-Ac League girls' basketball championship from longtime titleholder Germantown Academy, was forced to overcome a slow start against another highly respected team Tuesday before scoring a 61-53 home victory over Engineering & Science.

Trailing by 23-19 at halftime, the Quakers took the lead for the first time at 26-25 with a little more than three minutes gone in the third quarter. They then outscored the Engineers, 14-7, over the remainder of the quarter.

Penn Charter is ranked No. 10 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer. In earning their fourth straight win of the season, the Quakers received double-figure scoring from Brianna Butler (16), Aleesha Powell (13), Kendall Stokes (13), and Dianna Thomas-Painter (11).

That was more than enough to offset the combination of Engineering & Science's Brittany Hrynko and Monique Whaley-Briggs. The DePaul-bound Hrynko pumped in 28 points on a variety of shots, and Whaley-Briggs added 17.

"We came out of the gate a little slow," Quakers coach Diana Caramanico said. After an early 3-2 lead, the Quakers found themselves behind, 12-8, after one quarter. "Not every game starts perfectly," the coach added. "We did pick it up."

The Quakers tied it at 16 midway through the second quarter but fell behind again, trailing by four at halftime. Powell gave Penn Charter the lead for the first time when she hit a layup with 4 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter.

"We weren't playing with very much intensity early on," Powell said. "We knew this was going to be a close game."

The win was a good tune-up for the Quakers, who will face two more tough opponents this weekend in the Make-a-Wish Foundation tournament at Germantown Academy. They will play Peddie School on Friday and Archbishop Ryan on Saturday.

The loss was the first for the Engineers after two wins.

"We scheduled this game because we knew it would be a good test for us," Engineers coach Dave Hargrove said. "Penn Charter is a very good team. They got away from us in that third quarter.

"We'll have to get back on track because we have a couple of Public League games coming up."

The Engineers also will have another big nonleague matchup with Mount St. Joseph on Saturday. The Magic are ranked No. 3 by The Inquirer.

"We have to do a better job on defense," Hrynko said. "We weren't playing together. It was a good test for us."

Engineering & Science 12 11 9 21 – 53

Penn Charter 8 11 21 21 – 61

E&S: Brittany Hrynko 28, Monique Whaley-Briggs 17, Aaliyah Worley 2, Dahne Brown-Boyer 3, Eunique Faust 3.

PC: Kendall Stokes 13, Mary Kate O'Brien 5, Brianna Butler 16, Aleesha Powell 13, Danielle Sienko 3, Dianna Thomas-Palmer 11.

Contact staff writer Don Beideman at 267-815-0733 or dbeideman@phillynews.com.