Sub Ari­ana Magaz­zolo makes piv­otal plays late as Spring-Ford ral­lies past Methac­ton.

Sub Ari­ana Magaz­zolo makes piv­otal plays late for de­fend­ing PAC champs

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Austin Hert­zog ahert­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @AustinHert­zog on Twit­ter

FAIRVIEW VIL­LAGE >> Ari­ana Magaz­zolo hadn’t seen one of her shots fall through the hoop Wed­nes­day, and by her cal­cu­la­tions this one didn’t seem net bound.

“I over­shot it. I was not ex­pect­ing it to go in,” the Spring-Ford se­nior guard said. “I thought it was go­ing over (the bas­ket) out of bounds.” But that was not its fate. Magaz­zolo’s jumper from the top of the key was slightly over­shot, but with three or four friendly bounces on the iron be­fore a swish, Spring-Ford’s nar­row one-point lead was now three. In the Rams’ next pos­ses­sion, Magaz­zolo found Lucy Olsen on a pretty back­door cut that ef­fec­tively sealed Spring-Ford’s come-from-be­hind 4136 win over host Methac­ton Wed­nes­day night.

Those piv­otal bas­kets with two min­utes re­main­ing capped a se­cond half where Spring-Ford buck­led down af­ter trail­ing by nine at half­time, 2617. The Rams ratch­eted up their de­fense and forced a slew of steals while the War­riors couldn’t ride the wave af­ter half­time, held to only 10 points in the fi­nal 16 min­utes.

Sopho­more guard Olsen, one of two re­turn­ing Mer­cury All-Area first team se­lec­tions from a year ago, scored a game-high 15 points and cru­cially kick­started the SpringFord of­fense in the third quar­ter with five points. Se­nior for­ward Olivia Olsen and se­nior guard Cassie Marte added eight and seven points, re­spec­tively.

De­fend­ing Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pion Spring-Ford im­proved to 2-0 in the early go­ing while Wed­nes­day’s when will count as a key Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence vic­tory against ar­guably the leader of the chase pack in Methac­ton. It was Methac­ton’s first de­feat af­ter a 3-0 start that in­cluded a cham­pi­onship in their tip-off tour­na­ment last week­end.

Ju­nior for­ward Syd­ney Har­grove scored a team-best 14 points, fol­lowed by fresh­man Nicole Timko (8) and Caro­line Pel­li­cano (6).

Af­ter last year’s im­pres­sive 24-5 sea­son that fea­tured a league ti­tle and trip to the PIAA Cham­pi­onships, ex­pec­ta­tions are el­e­vated for the Rams.

“We al­ways prac­tice our hard­est, our coaches push us and we push each other. We know what peo­ple are say­ing about us so we want to live up to that and show peo­ple they aren’t wrong,” Magaz­zolo said. “It’s a bless­ing (to have high ex­pec­ta­tions) though kind of nerve-wracking. But you just go into games and play as hard as you can and love the pres­sure.”

There was def­i­nitely pres­sure down nine af­ter the War­riors won the se­cond quar­ter 15-5. But Spring-Ford stormed back in the third and re­gained the lead on an Olivia Olsen jumper with 1:42 left in the frame.

Spring-Ford’s lead stayed around five un­til a Har­grove bas­ket as­sisted by Syd­ney Tor­netta got Methac­ton within 35-34, a pre­lude to Magaz­zolo and the Rams’ piv­otal plays.

Though Magaz­zolo scored only two points, the se­nior re­serve was cru­cial in crunch time and took on ball­hand­ing du­ties in the big mo­ments.

“‘A’ was key,” coach Mickey McDaniel said. “She came in and we moved Lucy off the ball. She did a re­ally nice job con­trol­ling the tempo for us.”

“When my team needs me, I’m ready to step up and play as hard as I can,” Magaz­zolo said. “I’ve been prac­tic­ing as hard as I can and play­ing against my good team­mates to get bet­ter my­self and make them bet­ter.”

NOTES >> Spring-Ford se­nior for­ward Abby Goodrich reag­gra­vated a knee in­jury in pregame and did not play.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Spring-Ford’s Olvia Olsen, left, and Ari­ana Magaz­zolo (15) dou­ble-team Methac­ton’s Nicole Timko.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Methac­ton’s Abby Pen­juke, cen­ter, re­acts af­ter her base­line pass is kicked out of bounds by Spring-Ford’s Lucy Olsen.

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