Boyertown girls outlast Spring-Ford in 3 OTs to repeat as PAC-10 champions

By DAVE KURTZ

Pac-10sports.com

GRATERFORD – The Boyertown girls rarely take the interstate.

Instead, the Bears seem to prefer the circuitous route, the road less traveled, the highway littered with potholes, detours and stop signs.

Wednesday night in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship showdown with archrival Spring-Ford, Boyertown once again showed its penchant for high adventure.

The ride was bumpy, to be sure, but the Bears managed to survive, winning 56-51 in triple overtime to secure a second straight PAC-10 title.

There were plenty of roadblocks and hairpin turns for Boyertown to navigate on this night, but the arrival - though behind schedule - made the treacherous trip even more worthwhile.

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“When the going gets tough, we seem to be able to come together,” said senior guard Jess Schlesman, who unfurled a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. “At halftime, we regrouped and got ourselves together. We’d been in this position before, and we knew that if we brought our ‘A’ game, we’d be able to get it done.”

When it comes to rallies, the Bears own the patent. Boyertown had erased a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime during the previous matchup between the co-Liberty Division champions. That monumental comeback followed an early December game that saw another late Bears’ charge fall just one point short of fruition.

This time, the Bears climbed out of a deep hole in the fourth quarter behind a 10-0, defense-fueled run that forced turnovers on seven of eight Spring-Ford possessions and created easy baskets in transition. Schlesman was right in the middle of the fray with a pair of layups off steals to help Boyertown force overtime with the score locked at 36.

“We had to come out and hit some shots,” said Boyertown coach Jason Bieber, who watched his club fall behind 20-13 at the break after shooting a grisly 2-for-24 (8 percent) from the field in the first half. “We needed to pick it up on the defensive side of the ball. We had some traps, got the tempo going and scored some points in transition. That’s our game.”

Boyertown’s game is also getting the ball in the capable hands of sophomore center Kaitlyn Eisenhard. Despite struggling with her shot, Eisenhard was a major force with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 5 steals.

She saved her best for last. In the third overtime, Eisenhard put the Bears in front to stay with a strong bucket on the inside post. She would add two defensive rebounds, one block and a key assist to her tally sheet in the final 4-minute stretch.

“I think our nerves were getting to us (at the start),” Eisenhard said. “But then we picked up our play. Spring-Ford is a very good team, but we knew we could come back on them. We’d done it before.”

Eisenhard’s best play of the third extra session was probably her find of Kaley Snyder on the left wing. Snyder caught Eisenhard’s pass in perfect rhythm and nailed a 14-foot jumper for a 54-51 advantage with 1:13 left. The Rams would miss five shots down the stretch while the Bears were cashing a pair of free throws, and once again, Boyertown was cutting down the nets in celebration.

“I was in the zone,” said Snyder of her only field goal of the night. “I was feeling like it was one of those moments.”

A freeze-frame moment, indeed. Boyertown had dropped a transmission, blown some tires and chipped a lot of paint along the way to the Promised Land. But they had gotten there, just the same.

“It’s really a shame one of us had to lose,” said Bieber. “It was such an epic battle. We have a lot of respect for Spring-Ford. But we wanted to do this. We wanted to be the two-time defending PAC-10 champion.”

FREE THROWS: Spring-Ford, which committed 28 turnovers and shot just 30 percent (19-63), forced a second overtime when Nikki Lynch buried a 15-foot jumper from the right baseline just before the buzzer … Mariah Traywick, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter, had 5 blocks and 12 rebounds to pace the Rams on the interior. Sarah Payonk added 10 boards … Boyertown needed 58 percent (7-12) shooting in the three overtime periods to finish at 25 percent (15-59) for the contest. The Bears took a staggering 48 free throws, making 24. The Rams were 9-20 (45 percent) from the charity stripe.

Spring-Ford (51) – Moore 2 0-0 4, Stipa 3 5-11 11, Yates 6 0-0 16, Traywick 1 0-0 2, Payonk 2 1-4 5, Hinnant 2 1-2 5, Lynch 1 0-0 2, Haas 0 0-0 0, Mueller 2 2-3 6. Totals 19 9-20 51.

Boyertown (56) – Schauder 1 2-2 4, Mullen 2 6-13 10, Furman 1 6-12 9, Eisenhard 4 6-16 15, Schlesman 6 4-5 16, Kircher 0 0-0 0, Snyder 1 0-0 2, Kulp 0 0-0 0, DeHaven 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 24-48 56.

Spring-Ford        6 14 10 6 6 7 2 – 51

Boyertown         3 10 7 16 6 7 7 – 56

3-point goals: Yates 4, Furman, Eisenhard.