GRATERFORD >> Early on, Methacton’s first appearance in the Pioneer Athletic Conference girls basketball championship game since the 2014 season looked regrettable.
Instead, the Lady Warriors had a big say in making the night unforgettable.
Down 18 points in the first half, Methacton made a thrilling comeback, taking its first lead with 4:18 left in the fourth quarter. It was anybody’s game from there, both sides mixing in a series of competitive back-and-forth sequences. But in the biggest moment, the area’s best girls basketball player shined brightest, making the pivotal play on a night when she had little room to operate.
A classic second half was capped, or rather, Kapped, by Boyertown’s Abby Kapp, who had been bottled up much of the evening by foul trouble and Methacton’s extra defensive attention on her. With under a minute left and the game tied, the 6-foot senior forward bound for Bucknell University got the ball just past midcourt. Breaking out of a trap, she weaved all the way to the basket for a layup with 42.9 seconds remaining, and the Lady Bears hung on for a thrilling 47-44 victory and the PAC title, their second in three years.
A three-point attempt by Methacton’s terrific freshman, Sydney Tornetta, missed inside the final 10 seconds. Kapp secured the defensive rebound, Katie Armstrong hit one of two free throws with 1.8 to go, and a Methacton heave from past half-court fell short as the top-seeded Lady Bears (21-3, winners of 12 straight heading to districts) began the celebration.
Fouls were an issue to both coaches; Boyertown was called for 21, Methacton 20. Kapp got her third before halftime and missed much of the second quarter. Boyertown, which forced 13 turnovers the first half, many with its press, had to back it off because of the whistles. Methacton coach Craig Kaminski wasn’t alone in thinking a Boyertown foul could have been called near the basket on a Ryan DeOrio drive just before Kapp’s go-ahead hoop.
But there was much mutual respect in a title game where both teams left it all out on the court.
“Methacton’s a heck of a team,” Boyertown coach Jason Bieber said. “Craig does a great job preparing his kids. We knew they could come back; they have a bunch of kids hungry for a championship. In a championship game you wish they’d let us play a little more, but (the referees) were consistent. The fouls do affect us, obviously. We could have had a larger lead the first half if Abby had been able to stay in the game.”
“It’s a tough one,” Kaminski said. “But we’ve also got to look at things we can control. Getting down early didn’t help us. But I’m extremely proud of the girls. They gave it everything they’ve got.”
Kapp scored only 10, six under her average. Armstrong led Boyertown with 12 and five steals. Tori Boalton scored seven in Boyertown’s 8-0 start to the game. The Bears also survived 11-of-26 foul shooting.
Kapp said fouls hurt Boyertown’s aggressiveness, “Especially early in the game, you don’t play the same,” she said. “It gets in your head a lot. But we battled through all those things. We never got down and we lift each other up.”
“We believe in each other,” added Boalton. “This is such a great feeling. “
DeOrio scored 11 of her game-high 17 in the second half. Tornetta had 16, and also for Methacton Jackie Cerchio grabbed 10 rebounds.
It looked like a blowout early as Boyertown launched to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter. But Methacton (18-6) motored back to at least appear in the rear-view mirror, reeling off a 15-8 spurt to trail at the half, 29-18. Kaminski was disappointed how his team turned the ball over against the press, but the Warriors were all poise and persistence thereafter, attacking the basket and getting after Boyertown defensively when switching from zone to man in the second half.
From trailing 21-3, Methacton would outscore Boyertown 27-13 to the end of the third period. Bieber noted his team lost some of its edge.
“That’s something we’re going to talk about,” he said. “In the first quarter we were on the balls of our feet, then we were flat-footed. We’ve jumped on teams all year, but tonight there was too much of a lull.”
Tornetta and DeOrio keyed Methacton offensively in the third quarter while Boyertown scored just five points. Suddenly it was just 34-30 heading for the fourth. DeOrio’s drive gave Methacton its first lead at 39-38.
As always, Kapp’s teammates helped out immensely at important times. Kylie Webb and Armstrong pushed Boyertown back ahead, 42-41. Boyertown freshman Avery Sweisfort made a foul shot to tie it. With 1:28 left, DeOrio gave Methacton a one-point lead, then Sweisfort tied it again at the line, 44-all, at the 1:17 mark.
What a finish, what a night.
“We’ve talked all year about what kind of legacy are you going to have?” Bieber said. “Well, people are not going to forget this game, the Kapp drive and how everybody contributed in such a great game.”