ROYERSFORD >> While Boyertown’s senior class is off at Walt Disney World on spring break, the girls basketball team experienced a roller-coaster ride of its own Thursday evening at Spring-Ford High School.
The Bears, who at one point led by as many as 15, held on late to take down Garnet Valley 53-48 in the second round of the PIAA Class 6A playoffs.
“We all talked about it earlier this week,” said Boyertown senior Abby Kapp, who finished with a game-high 28 points. “‘There’s a reason we’re here and not (in Disney) with the rest of our class. Let’s make the most of this time.’”
Boyertown, the sixth-seed out of District 1, certainly made the most in the early-goings. The Bears never trailed for the second consecutive game — utilizing a 12-4 run late in the first quarter, which they eventually stretched into a 34-19 advantage by the half.
Garnet Valley, the eighth seed, didn’t go out quietly, though, eventually pulling it to within three points with under two minutes to go. Sophomore forward Emily McAteer accounted for 16 second-half points en route to a team-high 22.
With the win, Boyertown will take on Northampton (a 73-68 winner over Abington) on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. It will be Boyertown’s first trip to the state quarterfinals since the 2011 season, when the Bears were ousted by Archbishop Carroll in the semifinal round.
Although it’s not quite sunny and 75, senior guard Alli Marcus admits there’s nowhere she’d rather be.
“I was texting with some of my classmates last night,” said Marcus with a laugh, “and I told them ‘Hey, I’d rather be at Hershey than Disney (referencing next week’s state championship game to be played at Giant Center in Hershey). Once we found out that states was at the same time as Disney, there was no question. We wanted to be here playing.”
Marcus iced the game with a clutch trip to the free-throw line with six seconds left to make it a two-possession game. She finished with 15 points, igniting the Bears at the start of the second quarter when she knocked down a 3-pointer, then picked off an inbound pass moments later and earned a trip to the free throw line.
Garnet’s advantage came on the glass, especially on the offensive side, as McAteer and fellow sophomore big Brianne Borcky combined for more rebounds (24) than Boyertown collected as a team (22). Those boards turned into second-chance opportunities as Borcky finished with seven points to go along with another nine from senior forward Sydney Fail.
“They jumped us in the first half,” said Garnet Valley head coach Joe Woods, “but we came out and had a great second half. We put ourselves in great position, especially late in the fourth, we just couldn’t make a couple crucial shots there at the end.”
Garnet Valley used a five-minute 12-3 run early on in the fourth quarter, kick-started by McAteer’s and-one bucket and capped by Borcky’s clean trip to the free-throw line to make it 47-44.
That’s when Kapp showed her poise.
Moments after she committed a nearly costly turnover with just over a minute to play, Kapp secured the ball at the top of the key and cut to the basket, finishing with her left hand to give the Bears some needed breathing room.
A little retribution, for sure.
“I knew the time and situation,” said Kapp. “Mistakes happen on the court, there’s not much you can do about it. My coaches, my teammates trusted me with the ball in that situation, so I saw some space and took it.”
“That was huge,” said Boyertown head coach Jason Bieber. “You really saw Abby — as a senior — really take that game over. You want to have the ball in her hands and let her make plays. She and Marcus came up huge for us.”
Moments later, McAteer finished in the paint to bring it back to one possession before Kapp posted a clean trip to the free-throw line. Junior guard Nicole Barnes then finished in the paint for GV before Marcus iced it at the line.
Boyertown’s senior class doesn’t return from Florida until Sunday, the day after the Bears’ quarterfinal game. Surely, that adds a little extra motivation to keep the season going, considering the semifinal round will be played Monday night.
“Of course, we’d love to play in front of our fans,” said Kapp. “Just another reason we want to keep playing.”