Sur­vive and Ad­vance

Boyertown es­capes Spring-Ford in OT, to face Methac­ton in PAC ti­tle game

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS - By Dan Dunkin For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia @DanDunkin1 on Twit­ter

GRATERFORD >> It is the great equal­izer, the flip-a-switch gamechanger — the 3-pointer.

Boyertown had the game in the bag ... or so it seemed. With 1:14 left in reg­u­la­tion of the PAC Franklin K. Man­ley girls Fi­nal Four semi­fi­nal Satur­day night, the Lady Bears owned a 10-point lead over Spring-Ford, 44-34. And then it started raining heav­ily from be­yond the Spring-Ford arc.

Three three-point­ers by the Rams in the fi­nal 1:01 of reg­u­la­tion — two by Syd­ney Wag­ner, one by Alyssa Con­way, sand­wiched around a long two by Lau­ren Men­sch — changed every­thing. Boyertown missed two free throws and com­mit­ted a turnover dur­ing that span to help the Ram cause, and af­ter Wag­ner’s three with 19.7 re­main­ing, the game went to over­time, tied at 45.

But rather than panic, Boyertown showed im­mense poise, pulling it­self to­gether in over­time to win, 57-51, and ad­vance to Wed­nes­day’s PAC fi­nal against Methac­ton. Se­nior guard Katie Arm­strong scored eight points in the ex­tra ses­sion to lead the way.

“It was a lit­tle nerve-wrack­ing,” Arm­strong said with a smile af­ter­ward, “but when I looked at my team­mates be­fore over­time and saw they were all com­posed, we were fine.”

“I made a few mis­takes there late in the game, but give SpringFord credit — they were on fire,” Boyertown coach Ja­son Bieber said. “That’s your worst night­mare, a team mak­ing threes like that when you have a lead. But our kids did a nice job. We’ve had a lot of close games this year, and that helped. We showed pa­tience and ex­pe­ri­ence, and it’s great our kids didn’t panic.”

“We never put our heads down,” ju­nior guard Kylie Webb said. “We al­ways know we’re there for each other.”

Spring-Ford trailed by a high

of 11 with three min­utes left. The Rams (16-8), who fell to the Lady Bears (20-3) by 19 just 10 days prior, led briefly on two oc­ca­sions in the first half but were fight­ing up­hill much of the se­cond half against the tena­cious Boyertown de­fense. The Rams went over five min­utes with­out points in the third quar­ter, yet they stayed in the Lady Bears’ side view mir­ror with their own de­ter­mined de­fense, trail­ing by eight head­ing for the fourth quar­ter.

And a Ram team that had trailed Ben­tonville, Ark., by 22 in the third quar­ter of a hol­i­day tour­na­ment at Dis­ney­world — and won — wasn’t step­ping off the gas pedal. SpringFord coach Mickey McDaniel mar­veled at his team’s ef­fort, es­pe­cially down the stretch.

“It’s about their heart, soul and spirit,” McDaniel said. “That’s what drove them to come back. I’m re­ally proud of them. That sense of ur­gency we had gave us the en­ergy we needed.

“Give Boyertown credit. They’re a very good team, play well to­gether and they’re ex­tremely well­coached. But when you play like we did with heart, soul and spirit and fall short, it hurts.”

Boyertown stand­out Abby Kapp led ev­ery­one with 18 points and 14 re­bounds. Arm­strong added eight re­bounds — Boyertown out­boarded the Rams 37-24, in­clud­ing 14-6 on the of­fen­sive glass — to go with her dozen points. Kylie Webb was su­perb, scor­ing 14 and pulling down five boards. Like­wise Vic­to­ria Boal­ton, whom Bieber gave praise for tightly guard­ing the tal­ented Wag­ner, turned in a strong per­for­mance.

Spring-Ford got 17 points from Wag­ner, in­clud­ing four three-point­ers, 13 points and seven re­bounds from for­ward Mad­die Haney — who also played good de­fense in a good bat­tle with Kapp — and 10 from Con­way.

Kapp’s ter­rific pivot move in the lane gave the Lady Bears their 11-point lead with three min­utes left. That had fol­lowed her three-pointer and a bucket by Boal­ton, off a Webb feed, to keep the Rams at bay. Mo­men­tar­ily, any­way.

Af­ter a five-se­cond in­bound vi­o­la­tion on Boyertown fol­low­ing Wag­ner’s three, which had cut it to seven (44-37), Con­way hit a tri­fecta to make it a four-point game. Be­tween missed Boyertown free throws came Men­sch’s wing jumper, then af­ter Wag­ner tied it at 45, Boyertown missed in­side the fi­nal 10 sec­onds and had fouls to give to pre­vent a fi­nal de­cent Spring-Ford shot.

In OT, the Bears’ evo­lu­tion as a team around Kapp con­tin­ued to shine. Every­body dug in de­fen­sively, made plays and found open team­mates. Arm­strong drove or got free for three straight bas­kets. Af­ter Haney gave Spring-Ford the lead, 52-51, with 1:50 left, Arm­strong scored, then Webb made a free throw, fol­low­ing a missed Ram three, to make it a four-point lead with 20 sec­onds left. Kapp added two free throws with 6.1 to go.

“I al­ways say when the two of us get to­gether on the court, you never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Bieber said. “We have great re­spect for coach McDaniel and their pro­gram.”

SAM STE­WART - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boyertown’s Abby Kapp drives into the lane be­fore get­ting a shot off against Spring-Ford. At left, Boyertown’s Katie Arm­strong and SpringFord’s Abby Goodrich go up for a re­bound dur­ing the first half.

SAM STE­WART - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Spring-Ford’s Syd­ney Wag­ner goes in for a layup dur­ing the se­cond half of the Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals.

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