Germantown Academy on roll, tops SCH Academy for 5th straight win

FORT WASHINGTON >> Abby Starzecky’s game is built on consistency.

Every night, Germantown Academy knows just what it is getting from its senior co-captain. What the Patriots get is a little bit of everything, from stats to the intangibles.

For a young team that’s been wracked by injuries at different points this season, that steady play has been critical.

“This year my focus was on leadership because I was stepping in as a senior,” Starzecky said. “For me, it’s making sure everyone is doing what they need to be doing on the floor, everyone is in the right place. It’s hard when you have so many freshmen coming in, but it means we have a bright future so I just want everyone to be on the same page.”

Take Tuesday afternoon’s 70-47 win over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The senior only had four points, but she kept GA’s offense humming with eight assists.

GA continued its recent hot streak, winning its fifth straight game.

The initiator on out of bounds play, Starzekcy found open shooters a couple times in the first quarter, getting GA easy looks as it zipped away from Chestnut Hill. The co-captain had half her assists in the first, plus a pair of offensive boards as the Patriots took a staggering 23-4 lead after one.

“It’s our vision on the court, our teamwork, we were really on it today,” Starzecky said. “The vision up and down the floor was really nice coming from everyone. Knowing your teammates are going to be open always helps with everything else.”

The win streak has coincided with the return of Alexa Naessens to the lineup. Naessens, a junior forward, scored nine points with three rebounds, two assists and two steals on Tuesday

It was a rough start to the season for Naessens, but her return has opened up a lot of space for GA, and eased the load on senior forward Lilly Bolen.

“I had a concussion, came back for a game, then fell and hurt my knee but now I’m back,” Naessens said. “It was definitely frustrating since we were having such a hard time and we’re not the biggest team, so it’s hard to see that sitting out. But we’re starting to get the hang of it and playing so much better, which is what we needed.”

Springside Chestnut Hill’’s Destiny Rodger squares to shoot between Germantown Academy defenders Elle Stauffer and Lilly Bolen during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Speaking of consistency, Bolen had another strong game with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block. Having Naessens back has helped both, since teams can’t commit a double team to either and they both have the flexibilty to play high or low post.

The junior ended up missing six total games.

Naessens called her return an “adrenaline rush” but added it took a couple games to feel comfortable on the floor again. It came quickly, as she had turned in back-to-back double-doubles prior to Tuesday.

“Our chemistry is so much better and we’re all getting such good looks,” Naessens said. “Lilly and I play so well together, if she goes high, I can play low. It’s great teamwork between us.”

Usually pitted against each other in practice, Naessens and Bolen really get after it so they can churn out numbers on gameday. It was actually at Monday’s practice where Naessens felt like a strong game was coming.

“We’ve been busting it at practice and we had such a great practice yesterday,” Naessens said. “We go hard at practice, every day.”

GA led 40-15 at half, then kept the pressure up in the second half, holding a 56-30 edge after three.

Sustaining that energy was important for GA after its slow start to the season, which had the Patriots at 4-7 before embarking on this winning streak.

While the team wasn’t at full strength, it still wasn’t playing well and there was some concern creeping in.

“We were a little worried at the beginning of the season,” Starzecky said. “We kept working hard at practice, working to get better at our weaknesses and as the season’s progressed, we’ve gotten a lot better and a lot more sure as a team.”

The win streak started on the team’s trip to the Boo Williams Classic in Virginia over the holiday break. After dropping their opener, the Patriots beat Kentucky’s West Carter and have been rolling since.

Both Naessens and Starzecky said the trip brought the team a lot closer together and helped improve team chemistry.

“We were down and came all the way back and won (vs West Carter),” Starzecky said. “That was a really big game for us and has been the stepping point for what we’ve been doing since.”

Germantown Academy’s Alexa Naessens pulls up for a jump shot during game against Springside Chestnut Hill during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

GA is close to being at full power. Freshman Maddie Vizza wasn’t available on Tuesday, though Shannon Tople was more than up to the task at point guard.

The Patriots have two games left this week, and both are tough. They host undefeated Archbishop Carroll on Thursday, then face Perk Valley on Sunday at the Maggie Lucas Classic held at PhillyU.

All season, GA has counted on Starzecky to be consistent, and she’s delivered. Now, pieces are settling in around her and that steady consistency is spreading.

“If we just maintain what we put out today, it’s going to win us some games,” Starzecky said. “It’s the middle of the season now, we all know what we have to go out and do and what other people are expected to do. It was hard because we were one girl down then another girl down so a person had to step in and do something they weren’t as comfortable doing.

“Now, we all have our positions and understand our roles.”


Bolen was named as a PA finalist for the McDonald’s All-American game on Tuesday. The list, which includes seniors from across the country, will be trimmed down to final rosters on Sunday. The McDonald’s All-American game is an annual showcase among the best high school seniors in the country.

Maggie Lucas was the last GA player selected for the game, making it in 2010.

Germantown Academy 70, SCH Academy 47
SCH Academy 4 11 15 17 – 47
Germantown Academy 23 17 26 14 – 70
SCH (47): Bridges 2 0-0 6, Rodger 3 2-5 8, Burns 2 0-1 4, Clarke 2 2-3 7, Searight 3 8-11 14, Knieizewski 2 0-2 6, DeAngelis 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 12-22 47.
GA (70): Shannon Topley 2 2-2 6, Abby Starzecky 2 0-0 4, Rachel Balzer 6 1-2 18, Alexa Naessens 4 1-2 9, Lilly Bolen 5 5-5 15, Jaye Hanyes 3 1-3 8, Elle Stauffer 1 2-2 4, Maddie Burns 1 0-0 2, Jess Sheridan 0 2-2 2, Lindsay Putnam 0 2-2 2. Nonscoring: Emily Morrissey, Caitlyn Priore, Taylor Putnam. Totals: 24 16-20 70.
3-pointers: SCH Bridges 2, Knieizewski 2, Clarke; GA – Balzer 5, Haynes.

Top Photo: Germantown Academy’s Jaye Haynes drives to the basket during game against Springside Chestnut Hill’’s Caroline Clark during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

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