Incoming GA freshman Angela Seravalli (right) is pressured by a Perkiomen Valley rival. (Photo by Tom Utescher) by Tom Utescher There were a few gaps in the Germantown Academy line-up when the …
by Tom Utescher
There were a few gaps in the Germantown Academy line-up when the Patriots opened up in the Gwynedd Mercy Academy Summer Basketball League two weeks ago, and the same was true last Tuesday night when the playing venue for the league shifted to the new gymnasium at Montgomery County Community College.
On Tuesday, rival Perkiomen Valley High School was missing its two best players, and even with its own junior sharpshooter Rachel Balzer and a few talented younger girls temporarily out of the picture, GA still had enough muscle to overpower the Vikings, 52-15.
The following night, a Germantown squad that was closer to full strength made an impressive showing against a well-regarded Central Bucks West ball club. Balzer was back testing the waters after jamming her thumb the previous week, and 6'2" rising freshman Becca Booth made her first appearance for the GA varsity in summer competition.
A little over four minutes in, GA began to separate with a 9-0 spurt and then went on to a 29-13 halftime advantage. The Patriots used all of their players in the second half and kept the lead comfortably in double digits until the contest ended at 47-30. It should be considered that throughout the summer rising senior guard Cat Polisano, who will sign with Fordham University, will be going through the final phase of ACL surgery rehabilitation. Whatever GA accomplishes in the Gwynedd League, it will be without a future NCAA Division I 5'10" guard.
Even without her and Division I prospect Balzer, GA proved to have too much depth for a Perk Valley franchise that was missing its two top recruited players, including a future Fordham teammate of Polisano's.
Three early field goals by senior forward Alexa Naessens (Colgate) got the Pats off to a 10-2 start, and later sophomore forward Elle Stauffer came on to score 10 of her game-high 18 points before the first half was over. Stauffer's classmate, point guard Maddie Vizza, routinely threaded the ball precisely into the paint. Even when passes to her aren't on the money, Stauffer tenaciously manages to latch onto the ball. She also finishes her shots.
When the second half began with a 26-6 score, Vizza immediately popped in a three-pointer to keep the Vikings on a downward trajectory. She finished with seven points, while Naessens joined Stauffer in double figures with a dozen points for the evening.
The Patriots knew they'd face a stiffer challenge the next night with C.B. West, a Suburban One League power that features blue chip prospect Maddie Burke, a six-foot 10th-grade guard who is known personally to a number of GA players.
After both teams were unable to find the hoop during their first few possessions, lay-ups by Stauffer and fellow 10th-grader Jaye Haynes got Germantown on the board before the Bucks converted an offensive rebound at the other end. Stauffer scored again on a drive, and after junior Emily Morrissey and sophomore Molly Oeth sank jumpers from medium range, a "three" by Vizza had the Pats ahead 13-2 with a little over eight minutes elapsed (the games consist of 20-minute halves with a running clock).
West scored its second field goal on a baseline shot, then GA's Balzer, trying to get comfortable shooting from distance following her thumb injury, tucked in a triple from the right corner. Not only was Balzer back in action after not playing on Tuesday, but GA also benefitted from the return of returning varsity guard Maddie Burns, a rising sophomore out of Norwood Fontbonne Academy.
The Patriots' depth had an impact even more on defense than on offense; there would be three occasions all evening when West scored consecutive field goals, and the third time it was much too late to matter. This was an important factor in the second half, when the Bucks did a better job of defending GA than they did before the intermission.
Late in the first period, one three-pointer by Haynes and two more by Vizza kept Germantown on track toward a 29-13 halftime lead. West was never able to decrease the gap to fewer than 14 points throughout the second stanza. About four minutes into the new half, the Bucks strung together five points when Burke hit a trey from the keytop and a teamate successfully drove the lane to make it 36-22.
GA responded with back-to-back field goals by two players who hadn't scored up to that point, junior Shannon Topley and freshman Caitlyn Priore (four points total). Priore put in GA's next bucket, as well, and all around, it was a convincing display of team depth.
When Haynes nailed her second three-pointer of the night with a bit over six minutes left, the Pats' lead peaked at 21 points, 47-26. In the time remaining, West added a pair of lay-ups for the 47-30 final.
No individual on either team got into double figures, although Vizza was close with nine points on three treys. Next on the list of nine GA scorers came Balzer and Haynes, with eight points apiece, and Stauffer, with six. Rising ninth-graders Booth and Jessica Moore (a new arrival from Germantown Friends) saw a decent amount of court time, as well.