Ger­man­town Academy eases past Ship­ley

The Colonial - - OPINION - By Nick Iuele

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.

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