EAST NORRITON >> Don’t let the stat sheet fool you.
Spring-Ford used an all-out team effort on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs against neighborhood rival Perkiomen Valley.
Head coach Mickey McDaniel summed it up perfectly afterward.
“It takes five fingers to make a fist,” he said.
That it does. And you’ve certainly got to hand it to the No. 4 seeded Rams.
Behind 30 points from Sydney Wagner, Spring-Ford utilized nearly every player who touched the floor en route to a thrilling 56-53 come-from-behind win in overtime over No. 5 Perk Valley at Norristown High School.
The win sets Spring-Ford (6-4 PAC Liberty, 16-7 overall) up with a semifinal round matchup against top-seeded Boyertown on Saturday night at Perk Valley (7:15 p.m.). The Vikings (5-5, 11-11) start to look forward to the start of the District 1 Class 6A playoffs, starting next weekend.
“Every player on this team had a major role for us in this one,” added McDaniel, “especially during the fourth quarter.”
Wagner certainly led the charge, but it was also the supporting cast that came through in the biggest moments after Spring-Ford trailed by as many as nine points in the third quarter: Juliana Alessandroni battled for rebound after rebound with PV’s bigs, eventually converting a clutch put-back with just over two minutes in regulation; Rachel Christman’s layup with under 30 seconds to go brought the Rams within one; Alyssa Conway knocked down a clutch 3-pointer from the corner with 13 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. In OT, Lexie Nugent hit a beautiful jumper and assisted Wagner’s and-one drive, which stood as the game’s final bucket to cap the comeback.
“During the fourth quarter and overtime, we really started pressing (PV) and getting up in them,” said Wagner. “That’s when we started to get our confidence. I had total confidence in Alyssa in the corner. I knew she could knock that down.”
All that, just to try and spoil Megan Jonassen’s memorable night.
The PV junior forward scored a team-high 18 points, including the 1,000th point of her career, and grabbed 13 rebounds.
“It’s a pretty special night for me,” Jonassen said afterward. “I just wish we could have won it, though. It’s a tough loss, but our team played our hearts out from the very beginning. I’m just glad that I did it and now it’s completely out of the way.”
With 2:46 left in regulation and Jonassen sitting at 998 career points, she got the ball in the paint, backed down her defender then earned herself a trip to the foul line.
“That was a really stressful point in the game,” she said with a laugh, “so I was pretty nervous going to the line.”
Could have fooled anyone. Jonassen confidently knocked down both free throws before the game was paused for a brief moment with PV up 43-38 to celebrate her achievement.
Alongside Jonassen, fellow forward Taylor Hamm notched 15 rebounds and 17 points, including an 11-for-14 showing from the free throw line. Iman Richmond followed with 13 points with a pair of 3-pointers during the second quarter.
“My players gave me everything they had,” said Perk Valley head coach John Strawoet. “For our players to come out and play the way they did tonight — I have nothing but admiration and pride for every single one of them.”
Spring-Ford never let Perk Valley out of its sight throughout.
The Vikings led by as much as nine with just over a minute left in the third quarter. But Wagner knocked down a 3-pointer and Christman came up with a clutch steal and then drove it all the way for two to end the third quarter on a five-point swing to cut the deficit to 33-29.
That gave the Rams all the confidence they needed headed to the fourth, where they’d finish 6-for-7 from the free-throw line to try and keep the pace with Hamm, Jonassen and the Vikings.
“We were up against a very strong team,” said McDaniel. “Those two inside are tough as nails and they’ve got some shooters that can be tough, too.”
Now as they begin to gear up for Boyertown — which has beaten Spring-Ford twice already this season — the Rams know how tough the road ahead will be.
“They’re No. 2 in the district, they’re mentioned in the state and they’ve got one of the best players in the state (senior Abby Kapp),” said McDaniel. “They’ve got a great supporting cast — if you want to call them a supporting cast. They’ve got a really strong group of players around her.”
It takes one to know one.