Methacton, Perkiomen Valley punch ticket to championship showdown

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By DAVE KURTZ

ROYERSFORD – Methacton and Perkiomen Valley took vastly different routes to the PAC championship showdown with semifinal victories Friday night at Spring-Ford.

But in the end, the final destination was all that really mattered.

In the one-sided opener, the defending champion Warriors were on cruise control by halftime, racing past second-seeded Pope John Paul II 77-49 to earn their 13th straight victory and sixth PAC finals appearance in the last eight years, winning three of the previous five.

The nightcap was more like a slow sail through shark-invested waters for the Vikings, who overcame a blown layup at the end of regulation to eventually escape top-seeded Norristown 55-51 in overtime.

The Liberty Division and neighborhood rivals with square off for the opportunity to cut down the nets Tuesday night (7 pm) back at Spring-Ford.

Methacton seized control from the jump, opening up leads of 18-10 after one quarter and expanding the advantage to 39-19 by the break, ultimately ending the upset hopes of the Golden Panthers (11-12).

Methacton’s six-foot-9 junior center Jeff Woodward was an absolute beast on the interior, racking up a double-double that featured 21 points and 23 rebounds, including 9 off the offensive glass. Woodward, who also handed out four assists and blocked three shots, had 13 points and 15 rebounds in the first half alone to trigger the early assault.

As usual with the deep Warriors (19-5), there were other heroes including Erik Timko, who hit 8-13 shots from the floor to finish with a game-high 21 points; Brett Eberly, who ran the offense with machine-like precision, knocking down a pair of triples for 6 points, collecting 7 rebounds and delivering 4 assists; and David Duda, who added 9 points on 3-4 shooting from the floor and a perfect 3-3 at the line.

The Golden Panthers, who trailed 62-36, after three quarters, struggled to hit shots and maintain any offensive rhythm or flow. Justin Green (8 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Sean Bustynowicz (4 rebounds) had 13 points apiece and Drew McKeon added 12 for PJP, but 34 percent shooting (21-62) from the field and 24 percent (6-25) accuracy from beyond the arc weren’t going to get it done.

Perk Valley got it done behind another ‘senior moment’ in its OT triumph. It could have been over in regulation, but Ian Streeper missed a bunny while standing all alone under the basket after Tyler Strechay’s on the money dime.

No problem for the senior-dominated Vikings, who have shown great chemistry and unbridled trust in each other since the group cut its basketball teeth back in Middle School.

United they stand, divided they fall … indeed.

“I think the key for us was how we responded to that missed shot at the end of regulation,” said PV coach Mike Poysden, whose club last wore the PAC crown two years ago at the end of the 2016-17 season. “We have a senior-laden team that has been playing together for years. They have so much trust and confidence in each other.”

Those sentiments were echoed by PV senior marksman Zach Krause, who scored a game-high 18 points, 14 after the break, with a trio of timely bombs from NBA 3-point range.

“Ian had missed the layup, but we had his back,” said Krause. “We didn’t panic, we just kept working.”

The difficult work continued for PV after impressive 6-4 Norristown sophomore Nizer Kinney (12 points, 5- FG, 2 blocks, 2 steals) connected from the lane to provide a 48-46 lead just 20 seconds into the extra session.

But the Vikings showed their grit and mettle again, responding with a 9-0 run that featured a tradtional three-point play by sophomore Kameron Parks and a 6-9 performance at the free throw line to close things out.

“I don’t think we communicated very well on defense, and they made their open shots,” said Norristown’s 6-4 senior forward Mickeel Allen, who recorded a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. ‘That was pretty much it.”

It was all about missed opportunity for the Eagles, who dominated the first half but only came away with a 21-19 lead after Strechay (17 points, 11 in the first half) drilled a long three from near the midcourt line just before the second-quarter horn to keep things tight. Strechay had hit the game-winner in a 52-50 victory for the Vikings at Norristown Jan. 17.

“You can always lean back on your defense,” said Poysden. “Holding that Norristown team to 21 points in the first half was key. They like to run so much of their offense through the high post, but we made it hard for them to score.

“And what else can you say about this group of seniors?”

FREE THROWS: In addition to Kinney and Allen, Norristown also got strong performances from Xavier Edwards (16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists) and Tyler Lyons (8 points, 5 assists, 2 steals) .. Breathing room was impossible to find in a second half that produced a staggering nine lead changes and three ties, with three points being the largest margin of separation between the two combatants … The championship matchup promises to be another barn-burner. Methacton and Perk Valley split the regular-season series, the Vikings winning 44-39 on Dec. 18 and the Warriors getting the split with a 53-51 triumph on Jan. 19.

(3) Methacton 77, (2) Pope John Paul II 49
Methacton                       18 21 23 15 - 77
Pope John Paul II           10   9 17 13 - 49
 
(5) Perkiomen Valley 55, (1) Norristown 51
Perk Valley          10  9 13 14 - 55

 

Norristown          15  6 10 15 - 51