Boyertown and Spring-Ford girls stick to the script


GRATERFORD – Three times they’ve squared off this season, and three times the script has remained unchanged – until the final act.

Spring-Ford’s girls take control early, then Boyertown comes charging back late. It’s as predictable as the opening 45 minutes of a ‘House’ episode, as mysterious as the leading man on that TV medical drama.

The diagnostic clues are few and far between. No one can pinpoint why it happens, but it happens just the same.

In their first meeting on Dec. 14, the host Rams seemingly had the game in hand before a late 13-0 run helped the Bears forge a tie. Spring-Ford eventually won 36-35, but the die had been cast.

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The next showdown on Jan. 25 was even more baffling. The Rams had a 21-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but saw it all vanish beneath a blizzard of turnovers and easy transition buckets. Amazingly, the Bears took it to overtime and came out on top, 68-62.

For Act III, the stakes were even higher when the archrivals and Liberty Division co-champions squared off for the Pioneer Athletic Conference crown Wednesday night at Perkiomen Valley.

Once again, the plot unfolded in familiar fashion. Boyertown came out and shot 8 percent (2-24) from the floor in the first half, not getting its first field goal – a Krista Schauder layup – until 11 minutes and 6 seconds had elapsed. Spring-Ford led 20-13 at the half and still had a comfortable cushion at 33-23 with 6:49 remaining.

Then, it happened again. Boyertown’s frantic, full-court, trapping zone press started taking its toll, forcing the Rams to turn it over on seven of their next eight possessions. A 10-0 run, highlighted by a pair of Jess Schlesman breakaway layups after steals and capped by Brooke Mullen’s traditional 3-point play, helped the Bears force overtime –make that three overtimes.

When the dust had finally settled after 44 minutes of spirited, uneven action, Boyertown had secured a 56-51 victory in 3 OTs and its second straight PAC-10 title.

While the Bears players, coaches and fans were pointing their index fingers to the heavens, the Spring-Ford contingent was left to stare up in the same direction, wondering what - in the wide, wide world of sports – was a’goin on here.

How do you find simple logic in a trend that has no rational explanation? Like everyone else, Spring-Ford coach Jeff Rinehimer couldn’t quite figure it out.

“I actually don’t know why all of the games went the way they did,” said Rinehimer. “The tempo changed and we had trouble getting it back.”

Like a wounded animal, it’s apparent the Bears are only at their best when cornered. There’s a certain mentality shared by the hunted, and Boyertown seems to have a strong survival instinct.

 “When the going gets tough, we seem to be able to come together,” said Schlesman, the steadiest player on the floor Wednesday with 16 points and 10 rebounds. “We honestly felt we could come back, as long as we stuck together.”

Boyertown found the glue and fused together the broken pieces of a fragmented effort.

“Spring-Ford is a very good team, but we knew we could come back on them,” said Kaitlyn Eisenhard, who finished with a double-double of 15 points, 14 rebounds and 5 steals. “We’d done it before.

“We don’t get down on ourselves. Our defense kept us in the game and we never gave up.”

So where do they go from here? Spring-Ford has a ninth seed in the upcoming District One Class AAAA and will open at home against No. 24 Neshaminy Saturday at 1:30. Boyertown, the sixth seed, hosts No. 27 CB South on Friday night at 7 p.m.

Rinehimer said, ““The only thing we can really take from this game is that we still need to play a total game against the really good teams.”

Spring-Ford and Boyertown are both very good teams – similar in so many ways. Deep and talented, the Rams and Bears bring out the best, and worst, in each other.

Both clubs are on opposite ends of the district bracket and would only meet if the Bears and Rams can manage five straight wins apiece to reach the district final. That seems unlikely, but the way this rivalry is unfolding, anything is possible.

“When (Nikki) Lynch hit that shot to tie it at the end of the first overtime (for the Rams),” Boyertown coach Jason Bieber said, “I was thinking there should be co-champions.”

The cardiologists in the building were probably feeling the same thing.