MALVERN >> Time is a valuable thing.
That was especially the case for Germantown Academy in the waning moments of Friday night’s semifinal round of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) playoffs at Malvern Prep.
Jaye Haynes hit a layup at the buzzer to push double-overtime where Rachel Balzer went on to nail the game-winning 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired to lead the Patriots to a 52-49 win over Episcopal Academy and into their first PAISAA final berth since the 2015 season.
“It was great timing for me to finally hit a shot,” said Balzer, who was shooting 1-for-5 from 3-point land prior. “I was glad to have a coach and teammates that trust me that much in that situation. The fact that they trusted me with that shot meant a lot.
“I didn’t know how much time was on the clock, but I knew it was tied (49-49) and I knew it was late. I just wanted to get something off.”
While Balzer’s game-winner was scripted from the Germantown sideline during a timeout, Haynes was quick to note that her game-tying score took a much different route.
“We were pretty confused with the play and the way the defense guarded it,” recalled Haynes, passing it in from in front of her own bench. “So I passed it in to Maddie (Burns) and once she passed it back, I saw an open lane and just went for it.”
Rachel Balzer at the buzzer! Germantown Academy wins it! pic.twitter.com/kQADYq5eAi
— Thomas Nash (@Thomas_Nash10) February 25, 2017
The Patriots’ late-game heroics sets No. 3 seeded Germantown up with fourth-seeded Shipley School – a 45-33 winner over No. 1 Abington Friends – in Saturday’s championship back at Malvern Prep at 5 p.m.
Germantown Academy staked a 24-20 lead over second-seeded Episcopal midway through the second quarter and built it to as much as a seven-point lead early on in the third. The Patriots held the advantage until the Churchwomen tied it up at 34-34 two minutes into the fourth. From that point on, it was back and forth the rest of the way. Episcopal senior forward Elodie Furey knocked down a clutch pair of free-throws with eight seconds left in regulation to push the first overtime at 42-42.
Junior forward Luca Mamula led Episcopal with 16 points, including eight in the first quarter, and 11 rebounds while Furey scored 10 of her 12 points during the fourth quarter and overtime periods. She also finished 8-for-9 at the free throw line. Reilly Wright followed with 11 points including a pair of 3-pointers.
Haynes paced Germantown with 16 points — six during the second quarter — while Balzer finished with 10. Elle Stauffer and Maddie Vizza scored eight points apiece.
Jaye Haynes at the buzzer! Can you say double OT? pic.twitter.com/0fy7ApbpJD
— Thomas Nash (@Thomas_Nash10) February 24, 2017
Furey converted consecutive trips to the free-throw line early in the first overtime to give Episcopal a 46-42 lead. Vizza converted a pair then knocked down another free throw a minute later before Episcopal’s Seanna McNamara converted one at the line. Haynes drove the lane and tied it up to push the second overtime.
“Once we got into the second overtime, we felt like we had it,” she recalled.
Only it wasn’t that simple.
With both teams starting to hint at exhaustion, neither offense was able to generate much of anything. Episcopal Academy scored both of its points on a pair of trips to the free throw line while Haynes converted the lone field goal aside from Balzer’s game-winner.
“We put ourselves in the situations to win that game,” said Haynes. “When we got behind, we never got down. That was huge.”
Right the Ship
Germantown Academy has lost to Shipley in the PAISAA playoffs the previous three seasons, including a second-round upset as the No. 1 seed last season.
“We’ve got to come out strong, come out ready,” said Balzer. “We want to win this one for us and for the girls who were here before us the last three seasons.”
Germantown Academy 52, Episcopal Academy 49
Germantown Academy 13 15 4 10 5 5 — 52
Episcopal Academy 13 9 9 11 5 2 — 49
Germantown Academy: Stauffer 4 0-0 8, Vizza 1 5-6 8, Topley 0 2-3 2, Burns 0 0-0 0, Starzecky 0 2-2 2, Putnam 0 2-2 2, Balzer 3 2-2 10, Naessens 2 0-0 4, Haynes 6 4-7 16; Totals 16 17-22 52.
Episcopal Academy: Wright 2 5-6 11, Mamula 7 2-3 16, Dirks 0 1-2 1, McNamara 3 2-6 9, Keffer-Scharpf 0 0-0 0, Furey 2 8-9 12; Totals 14 18-26 49.
3-point goals: Balzer 2, Vizza; Wright 2, McNamara.
Top Photo: Germantown Academy’s Jaye Haynes (34) and Rachel Balzer celebrate their double overtime victory over Episcopal Academy in the PAISAA semifinals on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (Austin Hertzog/Digital First Media)