Spring-Ford girls top Methacton for third straight PAC championship

Austin Hertzog/Media News Group

By DAVE KURTZ

ROYERSFORD – The scene was an all-too familiar one – ‘Groundhog Day’ revisited.

For the third straight year, the Spring-Ford girls were cutting down the nets, serenaded by Freddie Mercury of Queen on the public address system.

“We Are the Champions.” Indeed.

Slick, quick junior guard Lucy Olsen posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Skylar Sullivan added 11 points and 9 boards and Alyssa Yuan contributed 6 points and 10 rebounds as Spring-Ford rode a dominating effort on the glass, stifling defense and efficient offense to a 47-39 victory over Methacton Wednesday night.

“Our No. 1 goal was to win the rebounding war,” said Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel. “We have been working hard on that – going and getting the ball. We wound up with 20 offensive rebounds, with Alyssa getting eight of those. Rebounding was our key coming in and I think we accomplished that.”

Spring-Ford, which has won nine championships in 10 finals appearances – all in three-year blocks (2005-08, 2011-14, 2017-20) - since the PAC began its playoff system during the 2005-06 season, took charge with a 15-4 run at the end of the second quarter, turning a 15-15 deadlock into a 30-19 halftime lead.

“We were right there,” said Methacton coach Craig Kaminski. “But then Spring-Ford went on one of their usual runs and we’re down 11. They killed us on the offensive glass, and I thought we were flat on defense and missed a lot of shots.”

Riding high on the wings of a 12-game winning streak that included a 42-39 overtime win over Spring-Ford on Jan. 16, the Warriors fell even further behind at 43-27 by the end of the third quarter and wouldn't get within single digits the rest of the way.

Nicole Timko collected a game-high 18 points and three rebounds and Sydney Tornetta added 12 points, two boards and two assists for Methacton, which would get no closer than 10 down the stretch despite a Rams’ dry spell that lasted 5:12 into the final frame – finally ending when Yuan hit a free throw for a 44-33 lead at the 2:48 mark.

“I think we came out with a lot more energy,” said Olsen, explaining the difference from the Jan. 16 loss to Methacton. “We played harder and smarter, more as a team. We really wanted to execute and play with a lot of energy.

“We were trusting each other, hitting shots. And I thought defensively we came out with a lot of intensity.”

Beyond the numbers, the grit and the tenacity, there are other factors elevating these Rams.

“There is that pride factor,” said McDaniel. “The seniors wanted to leave with three consecutive championships. There is a passion and desire to accomplish that goal.”

Abbey Boyer, who hit three treys and finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds, echoed the sentiments of her coach.

“As seniors, we are always looking to keep the tradition going,” Boyer said. “It motivates us and makes us play our hearts out.

“I thought we did a much better job against their 3-2 zone than we did the last time we played Methacton. We were moving the ball faster, getting it into the post and back out, and making our shots.”

Spring-Ford shot just 29 percent (16-56) from the floor and 35 percent (8-23) from beyond the arc, but the massive rebounding advantage provided a steady stream of second-chance opportunities.

“We didn’t shoot that well,” McDaniel said. “But we were making hard cuts off excellent screens and I thought our offensive execution was good.”

While the Rams were in celebration mode, as usual, the Warriors were once again left unfulfilled. Since the 2009-10 season, Methacton has been to the final seven times in 11 years – including the last two seasons – but is still seeking that elusive first championship.

“Spring-Ford just always seems to elevate their game in the playoffs, so credit to them,” Kaminski said. “They’re always good at the game within the game.”

(1) Spring-Ford 47, (3) Methacton 39