Mak­ing their mark

Methac­ton dis­patches Potts­grove in PAC semi­fi­nals, S-F up next

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Se­nior For Me­dia News Group

ROYERSFORD >> The sym­bol­ism was quite ap­par­ent.

Af­ter top-seeded de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Spring-Ford won the evening’s first semi­fi­nal over Pope John Paul II, they de­parted the court un­der the watch­ful eyes of the Methac­ton War­riors, the No. 3 seed pre­par­ing to take the court for their own semi­fi­nal con­test.

Even as the War­riors took the court for their big­gest game thus far this sea­son, the Rams—un­de­feated in league play—loomed

large.

But fol­low­ing its own 54-46 semi­fi­nal vic­tory over Fron­tier Di­vi­sion Potts­grove, Methac­ton has its chance to emerge from that con­sid­er­able shadow once and for all when it takes on the topseeded hosts Wed­nes­day night for

the PAC cham­pi­onship.

“It’s one of our big­gest games of our ca­reers,” said Methac­ton se­nior Sara Markley. “They were un­de­feated in the reg­u­lar sea­son, and we know we’ll be the un­der­dogs, and they’ll have the crowd on their side... but it’s hard to de­scribe just how much it would mean (to beat Spring-Ford.)”

An 18-0 run span­ning al­most a full quar­ter of play— from the mid­dle of the first quar­ter to the five-minute mark of the se­cond—was the key to Sat­ur­day night’s con­test. Methac­ton built a dou­ble-digit lead and staved off re­peated Potts­grove ral­lies the rest of the way.

Ni­cole Timko’s 12 points led four dou­ble-fig­ure scor­ers for the War­riors (20-4), who won their 11th con­test in their past 12 out­ings—a streak in­ter­rupted only by a 48-35 set­back on Jan. 17 at Spring-Ford. Spring-Ford also claimed a 41-36 de­ci­sion at Methac­ton back in De­cem­ber.

Sat­ur­day’s night­cap fea­tured ar­guably the two most pleas­ant sur­prises of the PAC girls’ bas­ket­ball sea­son be­tween the sopho­more-laden Fron­tier Di­vi­sion cham­pion Fal­cons and the vic­to­ri­ous War­riors, who fea­ture only one se­nior in their start­ing lineup.

But that se­nior, point guard Abby Pen­juke, was in­stru­men­tal in turn­ing the game in Methac­ton’s fa­vor af­ter an early flurry of three quick Syd­ney Mow­ery bas­kets staked Potts­grove to a 8-3 lead. Pen­juke cor­ralled a loose ball un­der her own bas­ket and drove coast-to­coast for a layup, ig­nit­ing a 12-0 run that put the War­riors in front 15-8 af­ter one quar­ter.

Sopho­more Al­lie Ha­zlett’s en­trance into the game oc­curred just as Methac­ton be­gan their run—a point that wasn’t lost on her coaches or team­mates. Hack­ett helped

turn an early Potts­grove re­bound­ing edge into a de­ci­sive Methac­ton edge, tena­ciously at­tack­ing the boards on both ends.

“She had huge min­utes off the bench —gave us a spark,” said Markley. “Get­ting con­tri­bu­tions from ev­ery­one is a key to our suc­cess.”

“Our kids worked hard on the boards, but they’re a strong team,” ac­knowl­edged Potts­grove coach Mike Brendlinger. “We just couldn’t get out of that dry spell—it’s hard to come back af­ter giv­ing up (18 in a row.)”

When Potts­grove fi­nally broke the run af­ter 18 straight for the War­riors, they did so on a Sierra Potts three that trig­gered an 8-0 rally of their own and brought the Fal­cons within five at the half. The War­riors’ ad­van­tage on the boards be­came ap­par­ent as the half wore on, as ju­niors Syd­ney Har­grove and Caro­line Pel­li­cano con­verted put­backs in the fi­nal min­utes.

The abil­ity of the War­riors to run their of­fense through nu­mer­ous play­ers proved cru­cial against Potts­grove’s po­si­tional ver­sa­til­ity. No mat­ter who grabbed a re­bound, Methac­ton wasn’t afraid to push the pace and get op­por­tu­ni­ties in tran­si­tion rather than wait­ing for a back­court player to col­lect the ball.

“It’s al­ways a full team ef­fort,” said Pen­juke.

“I was a for­ward un­til this year, and Coach Kamin­ski told me I’d be play­ing point guard. We all have that ver­sa­til­ity—it’s one of my fa­vorite things about this team.”

Mean­while, Mow­ery and Potts kept the Fal­cons within strik­ing dis­tance, the lat­ter with her se­cond three­p­ointer to bring the con­test within five to­wards the end of the third quar­ter.

A quiet start to the fi­nal stanza was bro­ken when Pen­juke hit Syd­ney Tor­netta with a beau­ti­ful pass on a back cut to open the War­riors’ lead back up to nine,

then wres­tled a re­bound away from a Potts­grove de­fender to claim the first dou­ble-digit lead of the se­cond half with 4:40 to play.

Two quick jumpers from Mow­ery brought Potts­grove within four, but Ni­cole Timko’s se­cond 3 of the evening gave Methac­ton a 49-42 lead with 2:12 to play. From there, the War­riors would salt the game away, con­trol­ling the ball and forc­ing Potts­grove into des­per­a­tion mode on of­fense.

Mow­ery led the way with 19 points for Potts­grove, who fell to 17-6 on the sea­son. The young squad now has am­ple time to pre­pare for their Dis­trict 1 Class 5A opener, to be played at home on Feb. 19.

“We’ll prob­a­bly take a cou­ple days off to re­coup. This game tonight was an im­por­tant ex­pe­ri­ence, play­ing in a game where ev­ery pos­ses­sion was so im­por­tant,” added Brendlinger.

But it’ll be the War­riors get­ting their third shot at Spring-Ford Wed­nes­day af­ter one near-miss in the early sea­son and an­other set­back in Jan­uary’s re­turn match. The five-point Rams win on Dec. 13 is the clos­est any PAC team has come to up­end­ing the league lead­ers.

Methac­ton also has the op­por­tu­nity to pull off the rare dou­ble ti­tle, with both its’ boys and girls squads qual­i­fy­ing for next week’s league fi­nals. For se­niors like Markley and Pen­juke, to see a Methac­ton claim both ti­tles would be a high­light of their fi­nal year at the school.

“Hope­fully we (the girls’ team) can all be here to sup­port the guys on Tues­day,” said Pen­juke. “For our class, it would be in­cred­i­ble (to win both ti­tles.) I can’t imag­ine that’s ever hap­pened at Methac­ton —def­i­nitely not in our time.

“But we’re fo­cused on do­ing our jobs against SpringFord. They play at such a high pace, and they’ll have lots of fans here, so we need to stay calm and play our game.”

MJ MCCONNEY — FOR ME­DI­ANEWS GROUP

Methac­ton’s Syd­ney Tor­netta soars to the rim above Potts­grove’s Ri­ley Si­mon dur­ing their PAC semi­fi­nal Sat­ur­day at Spring-Ford.

MJ MCCONNEY — FOR ME­DI­ANEWS GROUP

Potts­grove’s Syd­ney Mow­ery (40) tries to get a shot off against a Methac­ton de­fender dur­ing their PAC semi­fi­nal Sat­ur­day at Spring-Ford.

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