RADNOR – A player who had just scored 25 points wanted to talk about a teammate who scored just one point after fourth-seeded Radnor had defeated No. 13 Penn Wood, 56-31, in a PIAA District 1 5A girls basketball tournament opening-round game Tuesday night.
“Missy was just unbelievable,” junior Ellie Mueller said of her classmate, Missy Massimino. “She was all over the floor tonight.”
Mueller, who made her last nine attempts from the free throw line and finished with 25 points, and junior Julia Rigolizzo, who dropped in a pair of 3-point shots on her way to 10 points, were the high scorers for the Raiders (18-5), who return home Friday night for a quarterfinal contest.
Massimino’s only contribution to the Radnor scoring was a first-period free throw. It was her other numbers that were staggering. She made four steals in each half, grabbed six rebounds – five off the offensive glass – and found time to dish off four assists.
“She dives on the floor for loose balls,” Mueller said. “She grabs rebounds, and she is so unselfish. If the other team has a high scorer, she’s the defender we put on them to shut them down.”
Massimino admits that when the other team has the ball, she is at her best. She demonstrated that as a freshman when she was a member of a solid defensive unit that paced Radnor to the PIAA Class 2A lacrosse championship.
“I try to spark the team and help out defensively,” Massimino, who has committed to Georgetown to play lacrosse, said.
Raiders head coach Mark Jordan is happy to have a player like Massimino to rely on in key spots in games.
“She’s clearly the defensive leader,” Jordan said. “I don’t know what we’d do without her. If we have a bad possession, Missy will come up with a steal and help turn things around.”
Jordan was without starting point guard Audrey Rosenblum (sprained ankle) Tuesday and was concerned that the 10-day layoff between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs could have had a negative effect on his players.
“We played a little more zone (defense) than we usually play,” the coach said. “That was a physical team we played tonight, but Ellie is strong enough to play against a team like that. It’s playoff time, and it’s great to be 1-0 in the playoffs.”
Massimino understood that with Penn Wood in early foul trouble, the ball had to go inside to Mueller.
“I did what I could to help her out,” Massimino said, after Mueller earned 10 of her 16 points in the first half from the foul line.
Mueller is another Raider whose college plans include lacrosse – at Princeton University. That won’t stop her from enjoying her time on the basketball court.
“I know I should have made more of those (follow-up) shots,” she said. “I guess I might hear about that. It was great to get back in game mode tonight and get into the flow of the game.”
Holly Holtsberg scored only four points for the Raiders, but she claimed seven missed shots and had three blocks.
Freshman Raquel Curry shot 6-for-7 from the floor for 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out early in the fourth period for Penn Wood (13-9). Sophomore Jada Hutt scored seven points, pulled down eight missed shots and added one block for the Patriots.
“It was emotional in the room after the game with the girls,” Penn Wood head coach Kareem Wright, whose team lost its playoff opener to Radnor for the second time in three years, said. “It’s tough to face the seniors after their last game.
“I just reminded them off all the things we did on the journey to get here. (The seniors and I have) been together for 1,189 days since they came to play for me as freshmen. We were the underdogs, but they rose above expectations. I hope the girls who are coming back remember this feeling and use it for motivation to get better.”
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