The talent is evident once the starting lineup is introduced prior to tip off at Great Valley.
Team chemistry is even higher.
For the first time in two years, the talent and chemistry can mesh as Ashlyn Smith, Kodi Campetti, Christina Porreca, Sadie Buzan and Steph Aker finally have rid themselves of the injury bug that has plagued the Patriots along with their Ches-Mont and District 1 Class AAAA playoff aspirations over the past year.
Look no further than an 9-2 start.
“Our team is really close-knit,” Aker said. “That’s been the difference in what we’ve been able to do this year compared to last. We’re all on the court and helping the young players. The leadership is there, which is something we missed last year with injuries.”
Injuries played a huge role in Great Valley’s 2014-15 season as Campetti, Aker and Porreca missed various portions of the year. Once the three finally were able to get on the court to help Smith, the Patriots were stuck in the midst of a slow start they could not overcome.
Great Valley still had an outside shot of making the Ches-Mont playoffs, but fell to Unionville with two games left in the regular season and ended the year with a 10-12 record (6-6 in league play).
Heading into tonight’s game at Sun Valley, the Patriots are one win away from matching that total in the first week of January.
“With all of us healthy, it plays a big role,” Porreca said. “It’s good to have all of us playing. As we saw last year, we didn’t function all that well when some of us were playing and lost some wins in the process.”
This season is the last opportunity for Smith, Campetti, Aker and Porreca to compete for the Ches-Mont American Division title along with winning a district playoff game, which is what the seniors set to accomplish in the preseason.
Through 11 games, health has not been a major obstacle even with Smith and Campetti having minor injuries early in the season against West Chester Rustin.
All Great Valley has done is rallied from double-digit first quarter deficits against Kennett and Wilson to earn wins and defeated Unionville to remain in the thick of the American Division title race.
“There’s good communication when we’re all on the court,” Campetti said. “We’re all good friends off it as well, which definitely helps. It’s very important when we’re all playing together. Everything seems to click.”
Ashlyn Smith scored 19 points on 9 of 13 shooting in Great Valley’s 46-20 win over West Chester East Saturday. Smith scored all her points in 22 minutes… Abbey Shea had a career-high nine points in West Chester Henderson’s 61-29 loss to Red Lion Saturday. Shea topped that career-high in her next game with 10 points against Downingtown West Tuesday… Jess Hussey scored a season-high 24 points in Kennett’s 55-43 loss to Whitehall Saturday. Hussey leads the Ches-Mont League in scoring with 15.0 points per game… Paige Warfel scored 20 points in Downingtown East’s 60-21 win over West Chester East Tuesday. Warfel has three 20-point games this season in just eight games played… Lexi Zavitsky scored a career-high 13 points in West Chester Rustin’s 56-45 win over Sun Valley Tuesday. Syd Eller also had a career-high seven points in the win… Sun Valley’s Kate Lannan is 21 points away from 1,000 for her career… Devon Adams scored a season-high 12 points in Bishop Shanahan’s 49-36 win over Coatesville Tuesday. Brianna White returned for Coatesville from a foot injury suffered in the first game of the season and scored 11 points to lead the Red Raiders… Grace Schrof led Unionville with a career-high 13 points in a 60-16 win over Octorara Tuesday. Haley Justice led the Braves with 16 points providing all the scoring for the team.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Downingtown East’s Paige Warfel earns player of the week honors for Week 5. Returning to the starting lineup after missing two games with a head injury, Warfel didn’t miss a beat scoring 20 points as the Cougars defeated West Chester East 60-21 Tuesday night. East went 0-2 in Warfel’s absence and is 6-2 in games she plays in. In Warfel’s last three full games played, she has averaged 18.3 points per game and is fifth in the Ches-Mont with 13.4 points per game. Warfel has 1,179 points in her career.
Honorable Mention >> Courtney Warley (Bishop Shanahan), Ashlyn Smith (Great Valley), Abbey Shea (West Chester Henderson), Maggie O’Hare (West Chester Rustin).
Previous Winners >> Miranda Hill, Kennett (Week 1); Ellie Mack, Conestoga (Week 2); Ciara Forde, Bishop Shanahan (Week 3); Jess Hussey, Kennett (Week 4).
KEY GAMES THIS WEEK
West Chester Henderson at West Chester East, (tonight, 7:15 p.m.); Downingtown East at Unionville, (tonight, 7:15 p.m.); Kennett at West Chester Rustin, (Sat., 5:15 p.m.); Great Valley at Downingtown East, (Sat., 7:15 p.m.); Villa Maria vs. Germantown Academy in Maggie Lucas Play-By-Play Classic (Philadelphia University, Court 1, Sun., 10 a.m.); Bishop Shanahan vs. Episcopal Academy in Maggie Lucas Play-By-Play Classic (Philadelphia University, Court 2, Sun, 4 p.m.); Unionville at West Chester Rustin, (Tues., 7:15 p.m.); Downingtown East at West Chester Henderson, (Tues., 7:15 p.m.).
Daily Local News
Top-10 Rankings (Week 5)
1. Bishop Shanahan (10-0): Eagles return from holiday break with win over Coatesville to improve to 5-0 in Ches-Mont National. The 10-game winning streak is the longest Shanahan has had in Fran Burbidge’s tenure.
2. Conestoga (8-2): Pioneers defeat Harriton (7-3) at home to keep pace with Garnet Valley for first place in the Central League. Ellie Mack had 12 points in win while Liz Scott had nine.
3. Great Valley (9-2): Steph Aker scored 12 points as Patriots rallied back from 17-6 first-quarter deficit to defeat Kennett in overtime Tuesday. Great Valley 1/2 game behind West Chester Rustin for first in American Division.
4. Kennett (9-3): Back-to-back losses to Whitehall and Great Valley on the road give the Blue Demons their first losing streak of the year. Play Oxford, West Chester Rustin and Sun Valley this week.
5. Downingtown East (6-4): Paige Warfel returned to the lineup for the first time since December 22 and scored 20 points in leading the Cougars to a win over West Chester East. Currently hold second playoff spot in Ches-Mont National.
6. West Chester Henderson (6-5): Warriors respond from 32-point loss to Red Lion with victory over Downingtown West Tuesday. Abbey Shea averaged 9.5 points per game for the week.
7. Oxford (6-5): Hornets were idle this week and have not played since December 28. Return to action with road game at Kennett tonight.
8. Unionville (5-5): Grace Schrof scored a career-high 13 points as Indians defeated Octorara in first game for 2016. Host Downingtown East in big nonleague game tonight.
9. West Chester Rustin (4-6): Golden Knights remained in first place of the Ches-Mont American with a win over Sun Valley. Maggie O’Hare leads team with 12.4 points a game. Host Kennett and Unionville this week.
10. Villa Maria (5-5): Hurricanes cruise to a 36-point victory over Sacred Heart. Marielle Picinich led Villa with 10 points in the win. Host St. Basil (second in AACA) and Villa Joseph Marie (fourth) this week.
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