FORT WASHINGTON — The Patriots found themselves in unfamiliar territory on Dec. 16 when Germantown Academy took on Archbishop Ryan High School. With seconds winding down, the team was trailing, 65-62. On the final possession of the game, the Patriots were unable to convert and suffered their first loss of the season.
Despite the result, the Patriots are still 7-1 on the year and have three players that average double figures in Jaye Haynes ’20, Rachel Balzer ’19, and Alexa Naessens ’18. As successful as those players are, it would not be without the play of Catherine Polisano ’18 and Madeline Vizza ’20.
Polisano and Vizza are the guards — or as Head Coach Sherri Retif called them, the “floor generals.” Even though they share the same position title, they are not the same type of player.
“Cat and Maddie really complement each other in the guard spots,” said Retif. “They are similar in some ways and they both possess very high basketball IQ’s. They have excellent vision and polished skill sets. For now, Cat is a little more defensive while Maddie’s forte is more offense. I see them as assets to one another and am excited to have them in uniform together.”
Both players echoed their coach’s statement, saying that when one of them penetrates, they are confident that the other will get open for a shot.
“We both can attack and we definitely look for each other for the shot,” Vizza said. ” Cat’s an amazing shooter. I think when we’re both on the floor together it’s a pretty good duo.”
Last season, Polisano tore her ACL in the first practice of the year. While she recovered from the injury, Vizza — then a freshman — received an uptick in minutes. Now a sophomore, Vizza said that although it was difficult because it was her first year, the experienced Polisano was there to help her through the ups and downs.
She continued to say that Polisano would be on the bench giving her pointers if she saw anything and that having her presence on the court will definitely help this season.
The senior added that even though she could not help on the court, she did her best to help not only Vizza, but all of the younger players.
“As a freshman, I was scared to death,” Polisano said. “I thought I’d just give what I know to them, especially since some of them were starting.”
Despite the youth in the lineup, GA did not falter. The 2016-17 team had a 21-10 overall record, while compiling an 11-1 record in the Inter-Ac League. They were good enough to win the Inter-Ac title for the third year in a row and were runner-ups at the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Tournament.
Now that’s she back on the court, Polisano is ready to make a difference. While her expectations for the team are high, her personal goals are understandable for someone in their first year back from an injury.
“I’m definitely trying to get my shot back,” Polisano said. “Since I’ve been back I’ve been focusing on my speed, but now that I feel comfortable on the court I have to get my shot back and my scoring up.”
While she wants to improve her shot, the rest of the GA team is doing just fine. In almost every game this year, the Patriots have had a different player carry the load on offense. In a 57-52 win against Pennington on Dec. 15, it was Vizza’s turn.
The sophomore says that a lot of her play comes in transition when she is able to get up the floor, create and get her teammates open.
“We have a lot of shooters on the team and people who can penetrate off the dribble,” Vizza said. “I’m looking for them for the open shot as well as trying to create my own opportunities too.”
The next opportunity that the two guards and the rest of the Patriots have will come in Arizona. The team will be playing in the Nike Tournament of Champions on Dec. 19.