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Holy Ghost Prep locks up state berth, leaves Great Valley with one last shot to get in

EAST WHITELAND >> It just wasn’t Great Valley’s night.

“Sometimes statistics don’t tell you the whole game, but 10-for-40 tells you pretty much what went wrong,” said Great Valley head coach Paul Girone after the Patriots dropped their District 1 boys basketball Class 5A playback game Wednesday evening at home to Holy Ghost Prep, 44-33, thanks to a horrid shooting night.

Great Valley shot 10-40 from the field in the loss, including 2-20 from behind the arc, in their loss to Holy Ghost, which was powered by Jack Rittenmeyer and his seven 3-pointers.

When asked about his team’s shooting woes, Girone wasn’t concerned about the percentages as much as he was the effort from his squad.

“I don’t get mad at that … that’s something that just happens,” Girone said. “Is the effort there? Are the smarts there? That part was okay.”

Great Valley and Holy Ghost battled to a virtual stalemate in the earlygoing as they tried to find ways to bend the zone defenses they both were playing, but a little wrinkle in the Firebirds’ offense left Rittenmeyer’s shooting window ajar just enough, and that’s all he needed to get rolling.

In the second quarter, Holy Ghost ran the same baseline action for Rittenmeyer on three consecutive possessions, and he canned a left-corner three on each and every one.

Girone knew that his zone defense would concede open threes during the game, but a barrage from Rittenmeyer is the last thing he anticipated.

“Holy Ghost is a really good team. You can watch tape all you want and you’re thinking this is the guy,” Girone said. “No. 41 (Sean Elliott) looked like the premier shooter in the games I saw, but then Rittenmeyer comes out and starts dropping them.”

The Patriots’ offensive attack was interior oriented, as they constantly looked to feed big man Nate Graeff, who got off to a roaring start for the Patriots with his physicality and energy on the glass.

Graeff was not only scoring, but he was making plays for others after multiple Holy Ghost defenders converged in the paint in hopes of stopping him around the rim. Graeff powered his way to the basket time after time, finishing with a game-high 11 free-throw attempts.

When Graeff was nullified, the Patriots struggled to muster up any offense.

Only one other player, Prevost, finished with more than three points, and Great Valley scored 13 points in the second and third quarters combined.

Despite the loss, the Patriots get one more shot at a state berth when they host Rustin on Friday night for the seventh and final spot from Class 5A.

Girone isn’t worried about his team’s confidence wavering, and expects their spirits to stay heightened.

“It wasn’t anger or anything like that after the game. I was pumping them up. Not making shots… that happens. We go into Friday, we’ve still got to shoot the shots and shoot them with confident. We need somebody to step up. It’s all positive on our end. It’s fun to be in the playoffs.”

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