Perkiomen Valley too tall a task for Germantown Academy

PHILADELPHIA >> It has been an area of weakness during the season for Perkiomen Valley girls basketball.

When an opponent makes a run or things start to go against the Vikings, they haven’t always been able to stay tough and handle it. After playing three and a half really good quarters of basketball on Sunday, the Vikings faced another gut-check moment.

With Germantown Academy cutting the Vikings’ lead to just one point with 3:44 to play, PV didn’t crumble. Instead, it toughened up and made winning plays.

The result was a 58-47 win over GA at the Play-By-Play Classic at Philadelphia University.

“We work on that a lot and this game is going to be a stepping stone for us in that respect,” PV coach John Strawoet said. “We’ve lost some games that we haven’t regained our composure, where we got down and continued to be frenzied, make bad passes and that kind of stuff.”

The loss snapped GA’s six-game winning streak and saw the Patriots (10-8, 3-1 Inter-Ac) battle foul trouble all afternoon, plus a somewhat off shooting performance. Perk Valley (7-5, 5-2 PAC Liberty) had two days of preparation and Strawoet said he knew GA was going to press his team but did like the matchup.

Germantown Academy’s Abby Starzecky nails a jumper in the lane against Perk Valley during their game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. (Rick Cawley/For Digital First Media)

PV’s strength is on the inside with its twin tower combo of Megan Jonassen and Taylor Hamm, both juniors. Hamm missed time at the start of the season and is still working her way back to game speed but Jonassen has been able to pick up the slack.

Sunday, the two of them set the tone down low and got GA forwards Lilly Bolen and Alexa Naessens in foul trouble. Jonassen scored 16 points and pulled down 17 rebounds, seven of those on the offensive end while Hamm had seven and seven.

“We didn’t take advantage of getting to the line,” GA coach Sherri Retif said. “Their two best post players went to the line several times and we went two. It’s a struggle when you can’t get those easy points. When we get behind and you’re looking for something that’s an easy point to get in there and score.”

Bolen was tagged for her third foul with about 6:28 left in the second quarter, sticking the senior on the bench for the rest of the half. GA led 19-17 with four minutes left in the frame, but had the script flipped on a 9-0 run by the Vikings.

A late bucket by Abby Starzecky kept GA in range, trailing 28-24 at the break. It wasn’t a bad spot for GA, given that the Patriots missed a number of shots, both from outside and near the rim, that they normally make.

“Our 3s were a little short and the court has that longer line, you don’t really see the gray (high school distance) line, but they had the same situation,” Retif said. “Our kids battled, it just didn’t fall our way.”

Germantown Academy’s Alexa Naessens screens Megan Jonassen off the boards during their game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. (Rick Cawley/For Digital First Media)

A bucket by PV’s Bridgette Bonjo with 6:31 left in the third put her team up by eight, but GA was about to make its move. The Patriots have relied on their underclassmen all season and they provided the spark in Sunday’s third quarter.

Freshman Jaye Haynes was a starter on defense, forcing four steals and scoring all five of her points in the second to keep GA hanging tough. Elle Stauffer, pressed into service in the front court, responded with some tough defense on Hamm and Jonassen with three blocks and four rebounds.

Sophomore Rachel Balzer and freshman Maddie Vizza have been mainstays in the starting lineup and they had seven combined points in an 8-0 run that let GA tie it 34-34.

“The underclassmen are getting a lot of experience and they’re giving us a lot on the court,” Retif said. “(Shannon) Topley and Rachel are sophomores then you have Vizza, Haynes and Elle as five kids who each played at least 20 minutes today. I’m proud of the growth that’s coming from that.”

PV took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter and never trailed in the quarter. Still. GA was right there and when Balzer drilled a 3-pointer with 3:44 left to cut the lead to 46-45, it was a big moment for the Vikings.

“We got a little frazzled in the third quarter, but regained our composure and settled down and did what had gotten us there to begin with,” Strawoet said. “We board well, and that was the difference in the game, the fact we could get on the boards.”

After Balzer’s shot, Perk Valleys scored the next seven points to push the lead back out to eight. Hamm found Hanan Richmond for a 3, Richmond drove and scored and then made a pair at the line on a one-woman show to calm her team.

“To finish the game the way we did was just fantastic,” Strawoet said. “Hanan Richmond did a great job handling their pressure and other guards came back to help. We got some great play out of our bench people, it really was just a great team effort.”

Perkiomen Valley 58, Germantown Academy 47
Perkiomen Valley 12 16 11 19 – 58
Germantown Academy 8 16 14 9 – 47
Perkiomen Valley (58): Hanan Richmond 2 6-7 11, Alex Blanstrom 2 0-0 5, Bridgette Bonjo 3 0-0 7, Megan Jonassen 4 8-10 16, Taylor Hamm 3 1-2 7, Kelly Owens1 2-4 4, Iman Richmond 2 3-4 8. Nonscoring: Wacker, Cappelli. Totals: 17 20-27 58.
Germantown Academy (47): Maddie Vizza 4 0-2 11, Abby Starzecky 1 2-2 4, Rachel Balzer 6 0-0 15, Alexa Naessens 3 0-0 6, Lilly Bolen 1 2-4 4, Elle Stauffer 1 0-0 2, Jaye Haynes 2 1-2 5. Nonscoring: Topley, Burns. Totals: 18 5-10 47.
3-pointers: PV – H Richmond, Blanstrom, Bonjo, I Richmond; GA – Vizza 3, Balzer 3.

Top Photo:  Perkiomen Valley’s Kelly Owens tries to pull the ball away from Germantown Academy’s Jaye Haynes as she drives to the bucket during their game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. (Rick Cawley/For Digital First Media)

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