ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford traditionally comes at opponents in waves, with full-court defense and depth able to drive the bus well into the postseason.
Playing its fourth game in six days Thursday night, though, that fuel tank was tested in the early season as the Rams battled some weary legs and a typically tenacious Craig Kaminski-coached Methacton team.
With junior guard Sydney Wagner and senior forward Emily Walker leading the way, host Spring-Ford managed to pull away to a 56-40 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory.
“I’m proud of our girls because we’re in a (stretch) of five games in eight days, and I could see a little bit of tired legs in the first half, but I’m really proud of the girls and how they willed through that,” Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel said.
Spring-Ford, which lost a couple of games at a Virginia tournament to top 20 nationally-ranked teams, evened its record at 2-2 overall, 2-0 in the conference. Wagner, knifing through the defense and also sinking outside shots, scored 22 points.
Walker had a key third-quarter surge and finished with 11 as eight Rams scored. Freshman guard Diane Nicholson produced well off the bench with nine points.
“I think everybody is counting us out now, because we don’t really have the D-1 players right now,” Walker said. “Our best players are still younger. But we’re building our confidence and we’re going to show everybody that we’re still the same team and we’re going to continue to get better.”
Methacton (2-2, 1-1) was led by the nine points apiece from Ryan DeOrio and Jackie Cerchio. With only two seniors, the Warriors experienced some growing pains dealing with the oft-problematic Spring-Ford pressure defense, but they kept hanging in there. They trailed only 19-15 with 5:22 left in the first half. They weathered a Rams run to a 31-19 Spring-Ford halftime lead, and stayed within 11 by third quarter’s end. Cerchio made three impressive driving baskets in succession late in the third. She and Jenna Cooper helped keep it reasonably close.
“We told the girls, Methacton’s always going to battle,” McDaniel said. “Craig does a great job with those kids; they never give up. I’m always impressed with Methacton and with the job Craig and his staff does.”
It would have been closer had Walker not been such a big offensive factor in the third. She got free for three baskets in that stanza, and very importantly, with 7 minutes left in the fourth, she took a charge to draw Cerchio’s fourth foul.
The defense of Spring-Ford senior guard Amy Roth also was huge. She pestered the Methacton backcourt and forced several five-second violations.
“Our defense really stepped it up this game, with Amy Roth getting a lot of five-second calls,” Wagner said. “And it really helped us on offense, too.”
Roth sometimes hawked the dangerous DeOrio, who made only one three-pointer.
“Amy played a terrific game,” McDaniel said. “She’s a gnat on defense and she made DeOrio work for everything. You could see Ryan was tired. Amy did those things that aren’t in the stats. That’s what drives us.”
Wagner made both of her threes in the fourth quarter as Spring-Ford built its lead. Overall, the Lady Rams were crisper offensively the second half as Methacton tried man and zone defenses.
“I think we just needed to work on our defense and work on our passes,” Walker said of the second half. “Because in the first half we had a lot of turnovers, but as soon as we started working as a team and rotating on defense, everything fell into place. We started getting open shots and scoring.”