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Ward carries hot-shooting Great Valley past Downingtown West

EAST WHITELAND >> Great Valley may not have the size of some other teams it will line up against this season. But Tuesday night, the undersized Patriots extracted a little bit of revenge for last season as Great Valley shot a torrid 19 for 37 from the field and was led by a superb effort from senior Liam Ward, who had a game high 24 points to go along with six rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots as the Patriots led wire to wire in an impressive 60-53 nonleague win over Downingtown West.

Senior center Nate Graeff chipped in with 14 points and seven boards for the Patriots (7-3), who jumped out to a 7-0 lead right off the bat as Ward drained two long 3-pointers. Great Valley held its own with the taller whippets on the boards and it was not for Jake Reese’s four 3-pointers for 12 points in the first half, the Patriots would have blown the Whippets (3-5) out of the gym instead of leading 26-18 at halftime. Great Valley held its own underneath as most of the Whippets’ offense came from behind the three-point arc instead of in tight.

“We wanted to come out and start strong tonight,” Ward said. “And the shots were going in tonight. We have been shooting better as a team lately and we needed it tonight. This was a big win for us.”

With Great Valley up by eight points at halftime, the third period was played at a frantic pace. Gavin Frankenheimer got things started for Great Valley as he drained a long 3-pointer at the beginning of the period. Frankenheimer would hit three treys in the period and end the game with nine points. But, Downingtown West got big games from Reese and Davis Reardon, who hit five 3-pointers for 15 points and Reese had a team high 18 for the Whippets. The two squads combined for 19 3-pointers on the night.

When Reese hit a corner three, Downingtown West closed the gap to 32-27, and it looked like the Whippets were starting to take control. But Graeff went strong to the hole for a 34-27 Great Valley lead, and after a Whippet turnover, Ward drained another 3-pointer and the Patriots had a cushion again at 37-27, forcing Whippets coach Stu Ross to call timeout.

“We went to Downingtown last year and did not play very well,’ Graeff said. “We were embarrassed and the seniors said we would not let that happen again tonight. And with Liam and Gavin hitting from the outside, the other team has to put their best defenders on them and that opened things up for me inside.”

Graef took a pretty pass from Ward and rolled to the hole for a lay-up and a 41-34 Great Valley lead. After a Whippet turnover, Jake Prevost scored inside for the Patriots and after three periods, Great Valley had a 43-34 advantage.

Great Valley sealed the game in the fourth quarter as it continued its hot shooting. But, Downingtown West would not go away easily. Reardon drained a 3-pointer to cut the Patriots’ lead to 53-45 with 1:58 to play.

But the night belonged to Great Valley. After Reese missed a 3-pointer, Great Valley hit on one of two free throws for a six-point lead.

Reardon came back again as he hit a long 3-pointer to make it a 54-48 game, but Great Valley got a break when Kyle Geiser was called for an intentional foul and Matt Porreca hit both free throws and the Patriots got the ball back and held off the Whippets’ charge. Downingtown West shot six for 16 in the fourth period and that would not get it down against the hot shooting Patriots Tuesday night.

“I am so happy for Liam and the whole team actually,” Great Valley coach Paul Girone said. “We are a good shooting team and early in the season we did not shoot well. But, over the Christmas Tournament we found it and we are shooting better. To be fair, Liam had two injured fingers early in the year and he did it all tonight for us. Shooting, rebounding, defense. It was a good night for us.”

Great Valley 60, Downingtown West 53
DOWNINGTOWN WEST: Luneberg 1 1-1 3, Roberson 0 0-0 0, Mattson 0 0-0 0, Barton 5 0-0 10, Reardon 5 0-0 15, Geiser 0 0-0 0, Reese 6 0-0 18, Howard 2 0-0 5, Kaiser 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 1-1 53.
GREAT VALLEY: Frankenheimer 3 0-0 9, Graef 6 2-2 14, Ward 9 2-3 24, Porreca 1 6-7 8, Prevost 2 1-2 5. Stillwell 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 11-14 60.
Downingtown West 8 10 16 19 — 53
Great Valley 12 14 17 17 — 60
3-point goals; Ward 4, Frankenheimer 3, Reardon 5, Reese 6, Howard.

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