Providence’s Annalise Pietrzyk was quite a sight following her first game of 2023.
The senior guard had a bruise under her right eye, after catching an errant elbow while battling for a rebound. Elsewhere, she had a bandage on her right wrist.
She also had red stains on her green-and-white jersey.
“I got cut,” Pietrzyk said. “I have a bunch of blood everywhere.”
And while there were no visible marks, her right thigh didn’t feel all that hot, either.
“I got kneed really hard,” Pietrzyk said. “The whole thing just cramped up like a charley horse.”
Through it all, Pietrzyk found the way again to be a leader Tuesday for the host Celtics in a 39-24 nonconference victory over Lockport in New Lenox.
Pietrzyk didn’t have her best day shooting, but the Hillsdale recruit augmented her four points with a team-high nine rebounds.
“I did? Oh, I didn’t know that,” Pietrzyk said of her work on the boards.
What she did know is her teammates, especially Bednar, picked her up in a major way on the offensive side of things.
“It was great to see the ball move and everything,” Pietrzyk said, smiling. “Gabi has definitely had her challenges, and she has stepped up when it’s needed. She’s proven that time in and time out.
“It’s great to see all the new JV players who came up this season step up as well.”
For Pietrzyk, it’s the fourth and final season of a varsity career filled with accomplishments.
As a sophomore and junior, she averaged in double figures and earned all-area honors. On Nov. 16, she reached the 1,000-point mark for her career.
On Dec. 28, Pietrzyk broke a program record by scoring 37 points in a 64-59 victory over Downers Grove South. The previous mark was 36, achieved by Alyssa Jurges in 2013-14 against Lincoln-Way Central.
“It was always in the back of my mind,” Pietrzyk said. “Sometimes during school, I’d go into coach (Eileen) Copenhaver’s office and see the record book. I’d be like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of points. That’d be cool to beat.’
“There have been some blowout games that I’ve had 27 or so and then the bench would go in. But I didn’t want to get it in a blowout game. Downers Grove South was a grind-it-out game, so that really made it worth it.”
As a senior, Pietrzyk is averaging 20.8 points and 5.1 rebounds. She rarely leaves the court. Even against Lockport, being elbowed, cut and kneed resulted in minimal time on the bench.
“She’s totally tough,” Copenhaver said. “You see the way she falls on the floor, right? She gets more, just from her instinct. You think she’s not paying attention, the next thing you know, she’s on the floor with the ball.
“She has a good nose for the game. You have to keep her on the floor. You just don’t sit her because she’s still contributing in another way. That’s what good players do.”
Nobody knows Pietrzyk better than Swanson. The two have been teammates since fifth grade.
“I have always known, when Annalise wants something, she’s going to go for it,” Swanson said. “She has always been so fierce on the court. But she has really grown as a person and a basketball player.
“I’m really happy for her and her accomplishments. I’m excited to watch her play in college. I’m going to see some of those games.”