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