MALVERN >> After its defense held top seed Abington Friends to 33 points in the PAISAA girls’ basketball semifinal, No. 4 seed Shipley prevailed against third-seeded Germantown Academy, 52-47, in the PAISAA championship contest Saturday at Malvern Prep.
The Gators received all but one of their 52 points from the trio of sophomores Lauren Ross and Anna Camden and senior Yndiah Bobo. Ross scored 27 points, including 13-for-20 from the free throw line.
“[Ross, Camden and Bobo] have all shared the load in scoring for most of the season,” noted Shipley head coach Sean Costello. “Just like in the game tonight, each kid stepped up at different points in the season. The other players on the roster were depended on to play good defense, rebound the ball and not turn it over.”
The Gators jumped out to a 9-0 lead, briefly fell behind late in the second quarter, then took the lead for good in the second half. Although Germantown Academy made repeated small runs at Shipley’s lead in the second half, the Gators kept their small – but definite – lead throughout the second half.
“GA was getting (many) offensive rebounds in the second quarter, but I thought we adjusted well in the second half, got our half-court game (in gear),” said Costello. “Attacking the rim was the key for us in the second half.”
Camden grabbed 12 rebounds for Shipley Saturday, while Ross snared 10, followed by Bobo (five), sophomore Casey Winter (four) and sophomore Elizabeth Talluto (four).
Shipley’s defense also proved reliable against Germantown Academy.
Costello said, “We played almost the entire game in man-to-man defense with strong gap principles. It was a defense we relied on the last two weeks of the season but previously did not play the entire year. We were constantly protecting against foul trouble so we played a lot of zone during the regular season.
“Our man to man was highly effective [in the PAISAA semifinals and championship game]. We were prepared to jump in and out of different defenses, but our man to man was protecting the paint so well that we stuck with it.”
Another key for Shipley was the late-game accuracy of Ross from the free throw line. In the last 2 ½ minutes she went to the free throw line 10 times, and made eight of them (she was 4-for-4 in the final 17 seconds.)
“Lauren got to the line a lot all year because she constantly puts pressure on the defense,” said Costello. “Lauren did a great job down the stretch of making shots and specifically free throws to finish games off all year.”
After the game, Germantown Academy head coach Sherri Retif talked about how far her team had come this season.
“Our only two returning starters both went down with ACL injuries, we started the season 4-7, but we won 17 of our last 20 games,” said Retif. “I’d rather lose with this group than win with anyone else. We have a young team with lots of resilience and grit, and Alexa Naessens and Abby Starzecky have been great leaders for us this season.”
GA needed its resilience as Shipley jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead. Bobo and Ross scored inside after grabbing offensive rebounds, Bobo drove underneath for another score, and when Camden nailed one from the right corner it was Shipley 9, GA 0.
Shipley led 16-8 at the beginning of the second quarter, but GA closed the gap when Maddie Vizza and Rachel Balzer found the mark on a couple of three-point field goals. When GA’s Elle Stauffer scored underneath just before halftime, the Patriots had their first (and only) lead of the game at 18-17. The second quarter ended with the score tied at 18-18.
“We got off to a slow start, we weren’t boxing out initially, but we took the punches and came back,” said Retif.
Ross proved to be a thorn in GA’s side in the second half, as the Gators went on a 7-0 run to start the third quarter, with five of the points scored by Ross. GA battled back once again, getting treys from Vizza and Balzer, and the Patriots trailed Shipley 33-32 at the end of the third period.
GA hung close to Shipley during the fourth quarter, and when Naessens (who had seven points in the final period) hit a turnaround jumper with three minutes left, the Patriots trailed by only one point (38-37).
But then Ross drove inside to make it 40-37, and in the last 2 ½ minutes she went 8-for-10 from the free throw line.
For GA, Naessens finished with 17 points, and Balzer tallied 15.
Shipley 52, Germantown Academy 47
Shipley 16 2 15 19 — 52
Germantown Academy 8 10 14 15 — 47
Shipley: BoBo 4 4-8 12, Camden 6 0-0 12, Talluto 0 1-2 1, Ross 7 13-20 27, Totals 17 18-30 52.
Germantown Academy: Haynes 0 1-2 1, Stauffer 2 2-2 6, Vizza 3 0-0 8, Balzer 5 2-2 15, Naessens 7 3-4 17, Totals 17 8-10 47.
Three point field goals: GA – Vizza 2, Balzer 3.
Top Photo: Germantown Academy’s Abby Starzecky shoots over Kate Scott and Anna Camden of Shipley School during the PAISAA final on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. (Bill Rudick/For Digital First Media)