Germantown Academy eases past Shipley
After pushing hard to win the Inter-Ac League title, Germantown Academy was bound to have an emotional letdown. The question was, would it result in an early exit at the PAISSA Tournament or would the Patriots fight through and reenergize for the rest of the state playoffs?
The Patriots rose to the occasion.
No. 4 seed GA got off to a slow start, but once it got going, it carried the momentum to what turned out to be a fairly easy 61-43 win over No. 13 Shipley School. Led 20-point performances by Sam Lindgren and Tim Gu- ers, the Patriots showed how dangerous they can be on the offensive side of the ball. They weathered the early storm and are now refocused for the challenges ahead.
“We haven’t played since last Friday, so I think that may have affected us a bit,” GA coach Jim Fenerty said. “All the credit to Shipley, they gave us all we could handle. This tournament is about surviving and advancing. Hopefully, we got the sluggishness out of our system.”
The teams appeared evenly matched through one half. The Patriots established an offensive rhythm, but struggled to shut down Shipley’s top scorers at the other end of the floor. Every time GA tried to run away, the opposition would hit a few buckets to stay in the game.
Lindgren and Guers were hot from the opening whistle, both from mid-range and driving to the basket. Guers got to the hoop at will and was fouled more times than not, then made Shipley pay by going 8 of 8 from the line.
Lindgren also had success from the line and was a force inside. However, even with all the success on the offensive end, GA still went into halftime up just four points.
A recommitment to defense was needed in the second half and Fenerty got that from his squad. The Patriots held Shipley to 11 points in the third period, only six of which came from the field. They forced more turnovers and converted them to points, as well as holding down the paint much better than they did in the first 16 minutes.
GA also scored a gamehigh 17 points in the frame. The six-point differential was just the breathing room the Patriots needed to pull away and they did just that.
“I’ll tell you the truth, our Inter-Ac championship was based on defense and I don’t know where that went over the last week,” Fenerty said. “We played better in the second half, but I’m hoping that we play good defense from this point on, especially because the teams in this tournament are very good.”
Guers and Lindgren continued to play well, while Kyle McCloskey scored six of his 10 points in the second half. The GA defensive
at its best in the fourth quarter, allowing a game-low eight points in the period. While they didn’t start out as dominant as many would have thought, the Patriots got the win in the end and can look forward to the next game.
“I think we put so much emphasis on winning the league, especially because not many thought we could,” Fenerty said. “When we did Friends in the PAISSA quarterfinals Saturday.
Margaret Anne Hubbell notched a double-double for GA with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Lauren Oeth had six points, eight rebounds and four steals and Kendal Grasela added eight points and five assists. that, I think there is a natural letdown. I know I had one, I don’t think I prepared the kids well enough this week. The bottom line is, you have to get the W and you have to move on and that’s what we did.”
Less than a week ago, Plymouth Whitemarsh High’s Ben Billings was wrestling Upper Moreland’s Chris Fleming in a bout that had major implications in the Colonials-Bears dual meet.
PW needed to win the dual meet to capture the outright SOL American title, and as time wound down on the Billings-Fleming match, the Colonials sophomore took a one-point lead over Fleming and appeared to have a victory locked up. But as the crowd noise amped up in the final seconds, Billings thought he heard a referee’s whistle and stopped wrestling.
Fleming seized the opportunity to score a reversal and win the bout.
As it turned out, the Colonials survived the faux pas to win the match and claim their first SOL crown since 2006 and all was forgotten.
By everyone, that is, but Billings.
So Saturday afternoon, in the 138-pound finals of the Suburban One American Conference championships at Wissahickon High School, with Billings once again dueling Fleming and trailing by a point there was no way he was about to stop wrestling. And when he scored a takedown with nine seconds showing on the thirdperiod clock to pull out a 4-3 win, justice and Plymouth Whitemarsh was served.
Billings was one of four individual champions on the day as the Colonials outdis- tanced runner-up Norristown to land the team title at the championships.
The Eagles reeled in six individual titles of their own, but had to settle for bridesmaid status.
“It’s been the same story for us all year,” said Colonials coach Justin Giovinco, acknowledging that his team seems to get consistent contributions from the entire lineup. “Our kids showed up today and wrestled hard.”
Joining Billings in the winners circle were teammates Francesco Palagruto (120), Gianpiero DiBattista (132) and Austin Pollock (182) as the Colonials pushed 12 of the 13 wrestlers who participated into next weekend’s District One Class AAA Central tournament at Oxford High School.
Norristown advanced 10 wrestlers to districts, including league champions Justin Altrogge (106), Eric Fuentes (113), Mike Springer (152), Rashon Lusane (170), Isaiah Samules (195) and Shaheed Hill (285).
“We wanted seven firsts,” said Eagles coach Mark Harner with a smile, “but PW just had too much today.”
That “too much” was epitomized by Billings, a young man who didn’t exactly draw comparisons to Cary Kolat when his varsity career began a season ago.
“Last year I started out 0-12,” he said. “It was only my second year wrestling. But I ended the year 7-18, or something like that, which isn’t too bad.
“And I’ve picked up where I left off.”
“He’s come such a long way,” Giovinco said of Billings, “and it’s all just working hard, staying with it and doing the things he needs to do in the (practice) room.”
The hard work, said Billings, was the key to PW’s success this season.
“At the beginning of the year we all knew what we had to work on,” Billings said, “and we really worked hard at it.”
While the Colonials and Eagles dominated the top of the podium, they did have some company.
Plymouth Whitemarsh amassed 220.5 team points, with Norristown collecting 202 and Upper Moreland finishing third with 159.
BACK POINTS: When Norristown’s Eric Fuentes won the 113-pound title it put him one up on his acclaimed brother and state finalist Zach, who did not win a title in his first varsity postseason, losing to Methacton’s Rob D’Annunzio in the 103-pound sectional final in 2010 at Perkiomen Valley. ... Dominic DeLaurentis’ title at 160 came at the expense of Wissahickon’s Pat Fennell, who stumbled and gave up a third-period takedown with 37 seconds remaining en route to a 3-2 DeLaurentis win. That victory earned DeLaurentis the tourney’s Outstanding Wrestler award. ... Norristown’s Mike Springer won the 152-pound crown, but did not wrestle in the finals, instead receiving a forfeit from Springfield’s Jared Krugman, who is nursing a bad shoulder. ... In a tournament of tightly contested finals, near-fall points were not awarded until the 145-pound finals when Upper Moreland’s Anthony DeLaurentis hit a firstperiod, five-point move on PW’s Earl Ries. ... And just how will Giovinco celebrate PW’s team title? “I’m going to bed,” the first-year coach said. The coach’s weariness is warranted. On Thursday, Giovinco and his fiancee welcomed a baby boy into the world. A future wrestler? “We’ll see,” Giovinco said with a proud smile.