GA

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS -

guards made up for it with hus­tle and tenac­ity. DiLello was ter­rific in the first quar­ter, turn­ing two steals into bas­kets and both she and Put­nam would fea­ture heav­ily in the team’s sec­ond half rally.

“When we know we have play­ers down, the rest of us know we can still do some­thing to help our team,” DiLello said. “We showed that to­day.”

“We’re al­ways hyp­ing each other up,” Put­nam said. “We said it’s only an eight-point dif­fer­ence, only a six-point dif­fer­ence un­til it was a tie game then we picked it up from there and kept it rolling.”

Sun­day’s game, which was ex­tremely phys­i­cal in the paint, saw GA rush out to a 15-4 lead be­fore Ryleigh Par­son hit a late 3-pointer to cut the Pa­tri­ots’ lead to 15-7 after one. Wood stayed afloat in the quar­ter thanks to its own re­serve play­ers, who then helped spark a pun­ish­ing sec­ond frame.

Bri­anna Bowen came off the bench with plenty of en­ergy and fight, giv­ing the Vik­ings a spark with her phys­i­cal re­bound­ing and de­fense, while Lind­say Tret­ter also came in to help lock down GA. Wood blan­ket GA’s se­nior sharp­shooter Rachel Balzer and bat­tled Elle Stauf­fer down low while An­nie Whalen car­ried the load on of­fense.

Whalen, Wood’s Player of the Game, scored nine of her 16 in the sec­ond as the Vik­ings ex­ploded for a 20-5 frame and took a 27-20 lead to the half.

“We got to­gether and said we had to play our game,” Vizza said. “We were get­ting a lit­tle bit out of con­trol in the sec­ond quar­ter and we knew we had to calm down, play our game and that’s what it all came down to.”

Wood, with Par­sons, Whalen and fresh­man Ryanne Allen push­ing the ini­tia­tive, ac­tu­ally built a lead of 35-22 with 3:57 left in the frame. Then, Put­nam got fouled and sank two, Stauf­fer scored in­side and Put­nam sank two more at the line to get the lead down to eight.

The prospect of mak­ing some cru­cial foul shots didn’t faze Put­nam.

“Ev­ery day at prac­tice, all of our play­ers make each other bet­ter,” DiLello, who scored 10, said. “The bench, which is me and Lind­say usu­ally, we make the starters bet­ter and they make us bet­ter. Ev­ery game it shows.”

“We prac­tice ev­ery po­si­tion, you never know where you’re go­ing to go, so you have to know what to do,” Put­nam said. “We’re try­ing to make the team win, that’s the main goal, no mat­ter who it is.”

Vizza got fouled on a drive with 1:22 left in the third, with Wood’s bench pick­ing up a tech­ni­cal foul at the same time, so the point guard would get four free throws. The ju­nior said she wanted to be in that spot and knew it was a piv­otal mo­ment in the game, so Vizza calmly hit all four free­bies as GA trailed 36-32 at quar­ter’s end.

Balzer got her only make of the game to cut the lead to 36-35, then fol­low­ing a hoop by Allen, Vizza came through clutch again. A straight­away 3-pointer by the guard tied the game 3939, then DiLello gave GA its first lead since the sec­ond quar­ter off an as­sist from Balzer.

“At half­time, ev­ery­one was telling us to keep go­ing,” DiLello said. “We had a lot of plan­ning and strat­egy go­ing into this game and I think we ex­e­cuted it well.

“Ev­ery­one on the team, we’re all best friends, we have each other’s backs and if some­one makes a mis­take, ev­ery­one picks them up.”

Vizza didn’t score again un­til she hit a pair of foul shots to ice the game with 28 sec­onds left, but her im­print was all over the fi­nal few min­utes. She had three late re­bounds, di­rected both the of­fense and de­fense and ex­uded a calm de­meanor that her team­mates picked up on.

While Vizza pushed the credit to her team­mates, the back­ups-turned-starters gave it right back.

“Mad­die Vizza played awe­some,” Put­nam said. “Mad­die, Elle and Rachel, they’re al­ways telling me to take shots be­cause I’m open and if I miss, they’re the first ones there to pat me on the back.”

GA, now 16-0, has played es­pe­cially well in Jan­uary with Sun­day’s win giv­ing the Pa­tri­ots a 6-0 record this month.

“My team­mates set me up with re­ally good screens, I was able to get a cou­ple shots off and I wouldn’t have been able to do it with­out them,” Vizza said. “We’re ex­cited with this mo­men­tum we have, it’s been a spe­cial year for a spe­cial team.”

JAMES BEAVER/FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ger­man­town Academy’s Elle Stauf­fer (1) drives the lane through Arch­bishop Wood de­fend­ers in a game from Sun­day.

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