Defense, Hokanson help Spring-Ford derail Upper Perkiomen


ROYERSFORD – Spring-Ford rode a shutdown defensive effort and the strong interior play of 6-foot-4 senior center Austin Hokanson to a 58-47 Pioneer Athletic Conference interdivisional victory over upstart Upper Perkiomen Tuesday night.

Fueled by a tenacious, trapping effort that forced 12 second-half turnovers, the Rams used a 20-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to turn a 36-33 deficit into a commanding 53-38 edge with 2:41 left. Upper Perk went scoreless for 8 minutes, 2 seconds in the second half and had a nine-game winning streak halted.

On the mend from a nagging lower back injury that had slowed his early-season production, Hokanson was right in the middle of the uprising – cashing in four field goals with power moves in the paint en route to a season-high 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

“Coach (Chris Talley) told me to attack the basket and that’s what I did,” said Hokanson. “We played with energy in the first half but were a little out of sync. In the second half, we had that same energy defensively and it made a difference.

“I don’t think our record (2-1 Liberty, 3-1 PAC, 6-4 overall) reflects the potential we have. But we’re a very close team, and it shows in our games. San Diego (Tournament) was a great opportunity for us to connect as a team.”

The connection was obvious after the break at the defensive end for Spring-Ford, which emerged from a 29-29 tie following  a back-and-forth first half that featured four lead changes and four ties.

“We hadn’t touched a basketball since Wednesday (because of weather issues),” Talley said. “So I expected us to struggle more offensively than defensively. But our energy was good throughout and we extended our man-to-man in the second half.”

The aggressive man-to-man was only part of it for the Rams, who also mix in matchup zones and straight zones, disguising the looks to confuse the opposition.

 “Spring-Ford played some great defense and forced us to take some tough shots,” said Upper Perk coach Jared Krupp, whose club slipped to 9-2 overall (4-0 Frontier, 4-1 PAC). “They really hunkered down with their man-to-man and zone defenses.”

With their turnover issues the Indians never found any offensive rhythm down the stretch despite getting a game-high 20 points from Ryan Kendra and 9 from Will Walker – including an impressive dunk in the first quarter that dropped some jaws in the building.

After shooting 59 percent (13-22) from the floor in the first half, Upper Perk hit 35 percent (7-20) after the break and coupled with its inability to take care of the ball – was outscored 29-18 over the final 16:00.

Spring-Ford, meanwhile, had great offensive balance with Hokanson dropping his 15, Noah Baker depositing 12 and Harrison Pierce and Nestor Diaz chipping in with 11 each.

“We’re definitely a better offensive team when our defense gets going,” said Talley. “And it’s really nice to see Austin starting to get healthy again.”

FREE THROWS: Krupp: “These are big games for us – playing against a (PAC) big school. But this was just one test – we have Owen J. and Perk Valley coming up – and we’re looking forward to the challenge.” … Upper Perk finished with a whopping 28-15 rebounding advantage, including a 11-4 edge on the offensive glass … UP senior sharpshooter Liam Boyle suffered an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter, but later returned after going to the locker room to get retaped … Spring-Ford shot 56 percent (22-39) from the floor while UP finished at 48 percent (20-42) … After committing 6 turnovers in the first half, Spring-Ford had just 2 giveaways the rest of the way for a plus-10 turnover margin.

Spring-Ford 58, Upper Perkiomen 47
Upper Perk (47) – Kendra 8 2-6 20, L. Boyle 2 0-0 6, Duka 0 0-0 0, Walker 4 0-1 9, S. Boyle 0 0-0 0, Keyser 2 0-0 4, Brown 2 0-0 4, Whary 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 2-7 47
Spring-Ford (58) – Pierce 3 4-4 11, Hagan 0 1-1 1, Robinson 3 0-0 6, Diaz 3 3-4 11, Baker 5 2-2 12, Bobeck 1 0-0 2, Hokanson 7 1-1 15, Grosshanten 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 11-12 58.
Upper Perk     17 12   9  9 – 47
Spring-Ford    14 15 10 19 – 58
3-point goals: Kendra 2, L. Boyle 2, Walker; Diaz 2, Pierce