Spring-Ford tops Owen J. Roberts in matchup of PAC un­beat­ens.

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Tucker Ba­gley

ROYERSFORD >> The Spring-Ford girls bas­ket­ball team en­tered 2019 with a goal of get­ting bet­ter ev­ery day. That tra­jec­tory looked to be in good shape Thurs­day in a matchup of the last re­main­ing Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence un­beaten teams as the de­fend­ing cham­pion Rams de­feated pre­vi­ously un­de­feated Owen J. Roberts, 55-47.

“We need to get one per­cent bet­ter ev­ery day we’re on the court,” Rams coach Mickey McDaniel said. “If we aren’t get­ting bet­ter than we are just wast­ing our time on the court.”

Spring-Ford (3-0 Lib­erty, 5-0 PAC, 7-2 over­all) has spent its fair share of time on court af­ter com­pet­ing in the Nike Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons in Phoenix, Ariz., be­fore Christ­mas, go­ing 2-2 at the na­tional in­vi­ta­tional.

Sopho­more guard Lucy Olsen poured in 14 points, in­clud­ing three 3-point­ers to lead all scor­ers, while Sky­lar Sul­li­van and Emily Tif­fan added 9 points apiece.

“My team­mates did a great job of get­ting me good looks,” Olsen said. “We played great de­fense tonight and did a good job of find­ing the open player on of­fense.”

The up­start Wild­cats (31, 5-1, 8-1) got off to a de­cent start, open­ing up a 5-2 lead on a three by Han­nah Clay and an Olivia Clark layup, but Spring-Ford held them score­less for the rest of the first quar­ter. The Rams re­sponded with a 17-3 run and en­tered the half with a 2313 lead.

“Our goal for ev­ery player is to make some­one else on the team bet­ter,” said McDaniel. “We want our team to push each other and if you can make some­one else bet­ter, that is mak­ing the team bet­ter as a whole.”

The Rams hot shoot­ing con­tin­ued into the sec­ond half. A pair of threes by Sul­li­van and Tif­fan pushed the Rams lead to 16, but the Wild­cats did fight back and found them­selves trail­ing by 11 head­ing into the fourth quar­ter.

“I was re­ally proud of how our team fought tonight,” Owen J. Roberts coach Jeremy Mel­lon said. “I thought we looked real rusty in the first half, but we fought back in the sec­ond half and stayed com­pet­i­tive.”

The Wild­cats strug­gled to make any progress in the fourth quar­ter, fall­ing back by 17 with just 5 min­utes re­main­ing. How­ever, OJR con­tin­ued to fight and forced enough turnovers to cut the deficit to just sin­gle dig­its in the fi­nal sec­onds.

“I told our team we can learn a lot from a loss like this,” Mel­lon ex­plained. “Sure, we could play bad teams and win big ev­ery night, but we wouldn’t get any bet­ter. I’m dis­ap­pointed we lost, but we now have an idea of what we need to do to get bet­ter.”

De­spite the loss, an 8-1 record is strong early re­turns from a OJR team that hasn’t been a PAC con­tender in re­cent his­tory.

Le­Claire was the lead­ing scorer for the Wild­cats, putting up 12 points be­fore leav­ing in the fourth quar­ter with a leg in­jury. Diana Rantz chipped in with three 3-point­ers and 11 to­tal points of her own.

AUSTIN HERTZOG - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Above, Spring-Ford’s Sky­lar Sul­li­van (30) drives to the hoop as Owen J. Roberts’ Kianna Daye de­fends. At right, Spring-Ford’s Cassie Marte (40) tips a pass from Owen J. Roberts’ Olivia Le­Claire to force a steal dur­ing Thurs­day’s PAC con­test at Spring-Ford.

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