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Vizza, reserves spark Germantown Academy past Archbishop Wood

Germantown Academy’s Maddie Vizza (3) brings the ball down the court through Archbishop Wood defenders during their Maggie Lucas Classic game Sunday Jan. 13, 2019 at Jefferson University. (James Beaver/For Digital First Media)

PHILADELPHIA >> Every player on Germantown Academy’s girls basketball team believes they’re capable of contributing when called upon.

Sunday, down two starters, the Patriots talk of depth would be put to the test. Not only did GA rally to beat Archbishop Wood, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the two usual reserves in Sarah DiLello and Lindsay Putnam pressed into starting roles.

Maddie Vizza led the way, but it was GA’s depth that really won the day as the Patriots rallied to top Archbishop Wood 51-44 as part of the Play-By-Play Maggie Lucas Classic at Jefferson University.

“Sarah, Lindsay, even Jess (Moore), they come in and play so hard,” Vizza, who was named Player of the Game, said. “They know every position, they play great defense, hustle so much and we absolutely would not have been able to win this without them.”

Germantown Academy’s Elle Stauffer (1) drives the lane through Archbishop Wood defenders during their game at the Maggie Lucas Classic on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 at Jefferson University (James Beaver/For Digital First Media)

GA was without Jaye Haynes and Becca Booth due to minor injuries while Wood did have Kaitlyn Orihel, who sat with an ankle injury, although all three players plan to be back by the end of the week. The Vikings went nine deep off their bench with the Patriots used eight players, just bringing the next wave of reserves up to fill Putnam and DiLello’s usual roles.

While it put GA at a height and size advantage, the two guards made up for it with hustle and tenacity. DiLello was terrific in the first quarter, turning two steals into baskets and both she and Putnam would feature heavily in the team’s second half rally.

“When we know we have players down, the rest of us know we can still do something to help our team,” DiLello said. “We showed that today.”

“We’re always hyping each other up,” Putnam said. “We said it’s only an eight point difference, only a six point difference until it was a tie game then we picked it up from there and kept it rolling.”

Sunday’s game, which was extremely physical in the paint, saw GA rush out to a 15-4 lead before Ryleigh Parson hit a late 3-pointer to cut the Patriots’ lead to 15-7 after one. Wood (5-9, 3-2 PCL) stayed afloat in the quarter thanks to its own reserve players, who then helped spark a punishing second frame.

Brianna Bowen came off the bench with plenty of energy and fight, giving the Vikings a spark with her physical rebounding and defense, while Lindsay Tretter also came in to help lock down GA. Wood blanket GA’s senior sharpshooter Rachel Balzer and battled Elle Stauffer down low while Annie Whalen carried the load on offense.

Whalen, Wood’s Player of the Game, scored nine of her 16 in the second as the Vikings exploded for a 20-5 frame and took a 27-20 lead to the half.

“We got together and said we had to play our game,” Vizza said. “We were getting a little bit out of control in the second quarter and we knew we had to calm down, play our game and that’s what it all came down to.”

Wood, with Parsons, Whalen and freshman Ryanne Allen pushing the initiative, actually built a lead of 35-22 with 3:57 left in the frame. The, Putnam got fouled and sank two, Stauffer scored inside and Putnam sank two more at the line to get the lead down to eight.

Archbishop Wood’s Annie Whalen (15) goes in for a finger-roll layup to end the first half against Germantown Academy during their Maggie Lucas Classic game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 at Jefferson University. (James Beaver/For Digital First Media)

The prospect of making some crucial foul shots didn’t faze Putnam.

“Every day at practice, all of our players make each other better,” DiLello, who scored 10, said. “The bench, which is me and Lindsay usually, we make the starters better and they make us better. Every game it shows.”

“We practice every position, you never know where you’re going to go, so you have to know what to do,” Putnam said. “We’re trying to make the team win, that’s the main goal, no matter who it is.”

Vizza got fouled on a drive with 1:22 left in the third, with Wood’s bench picking up a technical foul at the same time, so the point guard would get four free throws. The junior said she wanted to be in that spot and knew it was a pivotal moment in the game, so Vizza calmly hit all four freebies as GA trailed 36-32 at quarter’s end.

Balzer got her only make of the game to cut the lead to 36-37, then following a hoop by Allen, Vizza came through clutch again. A straightaway 3-pointer by the guard tied the game 39-39, then DiLello gave GA its first lead since the second quarter off an assist from Balzer.

“At halftime, everyone was telling us to keep going,” DiLello said. “We had a lot of planning and strategy going into this game and I think we executed it well.

“Everyone on the team, we’re all best friends, we have each other’s backs and if someone makes a mistake, everyone picks them up.”

Vizza didn’t score again until she hit a pair of foul shots to ice the game with 28 seconds left, but her imprint was all over the final few minutes. She had three late rebounds, directed both the offense and defense and exuded a calm demeanor that her teammates picked up on.

While Vizza pushed the credit to her teammates, the backups-turned-starters gave it right back.

“Maddie Vizza played awesome,” Putnam said. “Maddie, Elle and Rachel, they’re always telling me to take shots because I’m open and if I miss, they’re the first ones there to pat me on the back.”

Germantown Academy’s Sarah DiLello (15) makes an acrobatic layup over Archbishop Wood’s Shannon Morgan (22) in the first quarter of their Maggie Lucas Classic game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 at Philadelphia University. (James Beaver/For Digital First Media)

GA, now 16-0 (3-0 Inter-Ac), has played especially well in January with Sunday’s win giving the Patriots a 6-0 record this month.

“My teammates set me up with really good screens, I was able to get a couple shots off and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” Vizza said. “We’re excited with this momentum we have, it’s been a special year for a special team.”

GERMANTOWN ACADEMY 15 5 12 19 – 51
GA: Elle Stauffer 7 0-2 14, Maddie Vizza 4 8-8 19, Sarah DiLello 5 0-1 10, Lindsay Putnam 1 4-4 6, Rachel Balzer 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Jess Moore, Lilly Funk, Charlotte DiLello. Totals; 18 12-16 51.
AW: Ryleigh Parsons 3 0-0 7, Ryanne Allen 3 3-5 10, Annie Whalen 4 6-10 16, Liz Fasti 2 0-0 5, Brianna Bowen 0 2-4 2, Lindsay Tretter 1 0-2 2, Shannon Morgan 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Noelle Baxter. Totals: 14 11-21 44.
3-pointers: GA – Vizza 3; AW – Whalen 2, Parsons, Allen, Fasti.

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