Kapp’s clutch fin­ish enough to lift Bears to an­other PAC ti­tle

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

Early on, Methac­ton’s first ap­pear­ance in the Pioneer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence girls bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onship game since the 2014 sea­son looked re­gret­table.

In­stead, the Lady War­riors had a big say in mak­ing the night un­for­get­table.

Down 18 points in the first half, Methac­ton made a thrilling come­back, tak­ing its first lead with 4:18 left in the fourth quar­ter. It was any­body’s game from there, both sides mix­ing in a se­ries of com­pet­i­tive back-and-forth se­quences. But in the big­gest mo­ment, the area’s best girls bas­ket­ball player shined bright­est, mak­ing the piv­otal play on a night when she had lit­tle room to op­er­ate.

A clas­sic sec­ond half was capped, or rather, Kapped, by

Boy­er­town’s Abby Kapp, who had been bot­tled up much of the evening by foul trou­ble and Methac­ton’s ex­tra de­fen­sive at­ten­tion on her. With un­der a minute left and the game tied, the 6-foot se­nior for­ward bound for Buck­nell Univer­sity got the ball just past mid­court. Break­ing out of a trap, she weaved all the way to the bas­ket for a layup with 42.9 sec­onds re­main­ing, and the Lady Bears hung on for a thrilling 47-44 vic­tory and the PAC ti­tle, their sec­ond in three years.

A three-point at­tempt by Methac­ton’s ter­rific fresh­man, Syd­ney Tor­netta, missed in­side the fi­nal 10 sec­onds. Kapp se­cured the de­fen­sive re­bound, Katie Armstrong hit one of two free throws with 1.8 to go, and a Methac­ton heave from past half-court fell short as the top-seeded Lady Bears (21-3, win­ners of 12 straight heading to dis­tricts) be­gan the cel­e­bra­tion.

Fouls were an is­sue to both coaches; Boy­er­town was called for 21, Methac­ton 20. Kapp got her third be­fore half­time and missed much of the sec­ond quar­ter. Boy­er­town, which forced 13 turnovers the first half, many with its press, had to back it off be­cause of the whis­tles. Methac­ton coach Craig Kamin­ski wasn’t alone in think­ing a Boy­er­town foul could have been called near the bas­ket on a Ryan DeOrio drive just be­fore Kapp’s go-ahead hoop.

But there was much mu­tual re­spect in a ti­tle game where both teams left it all out on the court.

“Methac­ton’s a heck of a team,” Boy­er­town coach Ja­son Bieber said. “Craig does a great job pre­par­ing his kids. We knew they could come back; they have a bunch of kids hun­gry for a cham­pi­onship. In a cham­pi­onship game you wish they’d let us play a lit­tle more, but (the ref­er­ees) were con­sis­tent. The fouls do af­fect us, ob­vi­ously. We could have had a larger lead the first half if Abby had been able to stay in the game.”

“It’s a tough one,” Kamin­ski said. “But we’ve also got to look at things we can con­trol. Get­ting down early didn’t help us. But I’m ex­tremely proud of the girls. They gave it ev­ery­thing they’ve got.”

Kapp scored only 10, six un­der her av­er­age. Armstrong led Boy­er­town with 12 and five steals. Tori Boal­ton scored seven in Boy­er­town’s 8-0 start to the game. The Bears also sur­vived 11-of-26 foul shoot­ing.

Kapp said fouls hurt Boy­er­town’s ag­gres­sive­ness, “Es­pe­cially early in the game, you don’t play the same,” she said. “It gets in your head a lot. But we bat­tled through all those things. We never got down and we lift each other up.”

“We be­lieve in each other,” added Boal­ton. “This is such a great feel­ing. “

DeOrio scored 11 of her game-high 17 in the sec­ond half. Tor­netta had 16, and also for Methac­ton Jackie Cer­chio grabbed 10 re­bounds.

It looked like a blowout early as Boy­er­town launched to a 21-3 lead early in the sec­ond quar­ter. But Methac­ton (18-6) mo­tored back to at least ap­pear in the rear-view mir­ror, reel­ing off a 15-8 spurt to trail at the half, 29-18. Kamin­ski was dis­ap­pointed how his team turned the ball over against the press, but the War­riors were all poise and per­sis­tence there­after, at­tack­ing the bas­ket and get­ting af­ter Boy­er­town de­fen­sively when switch­ing from zone to man in the sec­ond half.

From trail­ing 21-3, Methac­ton would outscore Boy­er­town 27-13 to the end of the third pe­riod. Bieber noted his team lost some of its edge.

“That’s some­thing we’re go­ing to talk about,” he said. “In the first quar­ter we were on the balls of our feet, then we were flat-footed. We’ve jumped on teams all year, but tonight there was too much of a lull.”

Tor­netta and DeOrio keyed Methac­ton of­fen­sively in the third quar­ter while Boy­er­town scored just five points. Sud­denly it was just 34-30 heading for the fourth. DeOrio’s drive gave Methac­ton its first lead at 39-38.

As al­ways, Kapp’s team­mates helped out im­mensely at im­por­tant times. Kylie Webb and Armstrong pushed Boy­er­town back ahead, 42-41. Boy­er­town fresh­man Avery Swe­is­fort made a foul shot to tie it. With 1:28 left, DeOrio gave Methac­ton a one-point lead, then Swe­is­fort tied it again at the line, 44-all, at the 1:17 mark.

What a fin­ish, what a night.

“We’ve talked all year about what kind of le­gacy are you go­ing to have?” Bieber said. “Well, peo­ple are not go­ing to for­get this game, the Kapp drive and how ev­ery­body con­trib­uted in such a great game.”

SAM STE­WART - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boy­er­town’s Abby Kapp gath­ers con­trol of a re­bound while Avery Swe­is­fort (21) tries to stay upright as a crash­ing Jackie Cer­chio, be­hind, falls to the floor in the wan­ing sec­onds of the fourth quar­ter.

SAM STE­WART - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boy­er­town’s Alli Marcus goes in for a layup dur­ing the first quar­ter.

SAM STE­WART - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Methac­ton’s Ryan DeOrio hits a run­ner in the lane dur­ing the third quar­ter to cut the deficit to eight.

SAM STE­WART - DFM

Boy­er­town’s Abby Kapp floats a shot over the Methac­ton de­fense dur­ing the first half.

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