COLLEGEVILLE >> The Perkiomen Valley girls basketball team had a long time – almost a year – to think about losing to Boyertown in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship last season.
Head coach John Strawoet and his staff dwelled on it.
But the dwelling wasn’t on the negative. It was on the parts when the Vikings pushed the Bears for everything they could handle.
“I thought last year in the championship game we m
ade great strides,” Strawoet said. “We saw some things we really liked. So coming into this game we wanted to focus on what we did in the championship game – particularly in the second half – and try to take advantage of those things.
“They understood what Boyertown was going to do offensively, the screens, the cuts off their screens and we had to talk and be aggressive. We did that and we learned that from the championship game last year.”
Perk Valley will now have to learn what it’s like to have the target on their backs after securing a 39-32 victory over reigning PAC-10 champion Boyertown on their home court Tuesday night.
“It feels awesome, relieving,” said senior KT Armstrong after an end of game celebration bigger than a run of the mill regular season game. “We’ve never beaten them in high school before so it feels awesome to finally do it.
“Our defense was the difference. In the PAC-10 championship last year, it took us until the second half to wake up but this time we were going from the beginning. Our defense was intense.”
Armstrong, last season’s leading scorer in the PAC, had a mostly off night offensively, but came alive in the fourth quarter to score all of her team-high 10 points. PV was balanced throughout, getting eight points apiece from sophomore Meg Jonassen and junior Hanan Richmond, a promising transfer from Chicago, and sophomore Taylor Hamm added seven points. All three had more than five rebounds, a department PV controlled throughout.
Boyertown got 12 points from junior Abby Kapp, who scored seven in the third quarter. Senior Maria Garofolo followed with eight points.
Out to a 3-0 start, the Vikings will be the early hunted team, like the Bears were a year ago when they went undefeated in the PAC – including three wins over PV – and reached the PIAA playoffs.
“It helps our confidence go way up but it also puts a target on our backs. We were one of the teams to beat last year but now definitely teams are really going to want to beat us,” Armstrong said.
A forgettable first half ended with the score 8-8, neither team finding any rhythm or offense.
But the second half was much more in line with the two best teams in the conference, both with almost their entire teams returning.
PV burst to the basket and went on an 8-0 run for a 16-8 lead, but Kapp led the charge back and hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 23-22 in the third quarter.
That was the closest the Bears would get after Armstrong found her stroke and Bridgette Bonjo’s basket put PV up 36-28 with under two minutes remaining.
From the perspective of Boyertown, which is out to a 1-2 start after playing two highly-regarded teams at the Art Turner Memorial in Virginia over the weekend, the shots didn’t fall like they need to.
“Our defense has been solid every game,” Boyertown coach Jason Bieber said. “We played Paul VI down in the Virginia and they’re ranked No. 8 in the country and we played really solid defense. But it was like tonight, we couldn’t hit shots.
“I need some kids to start playing better than they are. There are some kids that aren’t playing to their potential. We need to figure how to get them there and ready to go.”
Just as Bieber is learning about his team, so is Strawoet. And he likes what he sees.
“I knew we would have a pretty good idea of what kind of team we have by opening up with Maggie and North Penn, then Lansdale Catholic and then Jason and Boyertown, we’ll know pretty quickly where we stand,” Strawoet said. “And obviously we do.”
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