Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Week for March 29, 2021: North Allegheny’s Lizzy Groetsch
Monday, March 29, 2021 | 9:59 PM
North Allegheny used a balanced attack on offense and a suffocating defense all season to win a second straight WPIAL Class 6A girls basketball championship.
However, in the two biggest games of the season last week, the Tigers turned to Lizzy Groetsch to lead the way.
The senior, averaging 16 points per game, scored a combined 46 points to help North Allegheny win its first PIAA girls basketball crown.
“In big games, your best players have to be your best players, and she was,” North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko said. “She has a calm intensity about her in big games that lets her stay on the attack, and at times, that creates foul trouble for other teams.”
That’s exactly what happened in Monday’s 6A state semifinal against Cumberland Valley. The Eagles got into early foul trouble, and Groetsch was off and running to a 24-point night.
“She’s a tough matchup for anyone because of her versatility and the completeness of her game, but especially so when other teams are in foul trouble and now, they can’t even guard her with their best kid,” Stefko said.
North Allegheny defeated Cumberland Valley, 66-40, to earn a trip to Hershey, its second in five years.
In the title game Friday, Groetsch herself got into early foul trouble, but it didn’t slow her down.
“It was the culmination of four years of learning to play with fouls. She plays so hard that she sometimes does get in foul trouble, and we don’t shy from that because as much as we love to have her on the floor, we know our other kids are good enough to function without her for a while,” Steko said. “With three fouls in the first half, she told me she could play with the fouls and not get a fourth, so we did it. We went to a zone that we haven’t played one possession of this year, and she went in and communicated us through some jitters and made that work for a while.”
Groetsch scored a game-high 24 points as the Tigers pulled away from District 1 champion Spring-Ford to win the program’s first PIAA championship, 55-40.
“By not trying to be our only scoring option, which she’d be good enough to do, she has consciously built a team around her good enough to help out when she gets special coverage, or to be OK if she has to be out for a while,” Stefko said. “That is a choice to elevate the other kids and always get them involved, and support them through mistakes, and it is a choice that she makes consistently. It was all the things that make her great rolled into one moment.”
Stefko said having Groetsch as a player during a game or even practice is like having another coach on the floor.
“Her strengths are her basketball IQ, her love for her teammates and vice versa, and how hard they all play for each other,” he said. “She has the confidence to talk through when she sees something differently, the assertiveness to stand her ground when she’s right, and the humility to accept when we go in a different direction.”
There are some aspects of her game that Groetsch continues to work on as she heads to the eastern side of the state to continue her academic and athletic career at Penn.
“She continues to work on her release point on her outside shot, and her understanding of different offensive schemes and how to stop them,” Stefko said. “She is a voracious film-watcher and sees things on film that we miss as coaches.”
While North Allegheny will return a lot of talent from this year’s double championship team next season, Stefko knows what he will miss without No. 32.
“Her ability to shape-shift and just make everything work regardless of who else was on the floor because of her Swiss Army knife-like skill set,” he said. “In every one of our last six playoff games, she played every position on the floor at different points due to some subbing quirks in the rest of our rotation. It will take some time to understand that different kids have to play different ways based upon who is on the floor at the time and that we can’t always rely on the Lizzy to bail us out with her position-less skill set.”
2021 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Players of the Week
Week 10 – Alexis Robison and Corynne Houser, Rochester
Week 9 – Paige Julian, Mohawk
Week 8 – Alayna Rocco, North Catholic
Week 7 – Emma Seto, Brownsville
Week 6 – Taylor Jackson, Clairton
Week 5 – Aayanni Hudson, New Castle
Week 4 – Bryn Bezjak, Albert Gallatin
Week 3 – Mallory Daly, Brentwood
Week 2 – Olivia Westphal, Bethel Park
Week 1 – Ashleigh Connor, Mt. Lebanon
Tags: North Allegheny
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