PHOENIXVILLE >> Spring-Ford’s Noah Baker was virtually unstoppable against Phoenixville Tuesday afternoon.
The Rams’ 6-3 junior guard/forward, scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in the first half as Spring-Ford took a 30-17 halftime lead en route to a 54-43 victory over the Phantoms in a Pioneer Athletic Conference crossover game.
“The first half was really good,” said Baker. “Without my teammates, I wouldn’t be anything. We work together. We had defensive intensity that got us the early lead.”
Spring-Ford guards Harrison Pierce, Ryan Hagan and Nestor Diaz took turns distributing the basketball to Baker along with big men Robert Bobeck and Austin Hokanson.
“We forced turnovers and got back in transition,” said Baker. “That made a lot of easy points. We have to keep consistency and intensity. If we keep doing that, we shouldn’t lose.”
Diaz also finished in double figures for the Rams with 11 points.
Junior point guard Colton Brown paced the Phantoms with 12 points, including one 3-pointer and eight rebounds.
Spring-Ford moved to 5-1 in the PAC (2-1 Liberty Division) and 8-5 overall. Phoenixville fell to 3-5 in the PAC (3-2 Frontier Division) and 6-9 overall.
It was close early as Spring-Ford took a 14-11 lead after the first quarter.
Then Baker started to take over in the second quarter.
The Rams stretched a 19-14 lead with 4:58 left in the half into a 28-15 cushion with 3:06 showing with the help of a 9-1 run.
Bobeck had two free throws to start the spree. Then came Baker off a pass from Pierce, a Baker rebound, a Baker three-point play at the 3:28 mark, and a Pierce steal that led to a Baker layup before the Phantoms called a timeout to halt the rally.
“Our energy, being out of a routine and all that, was good,” said Spring-Ford coach Chris Talley. “We had pretty good energy. That was a positive for sure.
“We did a good job of moving the ball. We reversed it, and that opened things up for Noah. The second half we played more on our heels. We didn’t attack.”
Talley said the Rams employed a strategic move by putting Baker in the middle of the floor, instead of his usual spot on the wing, to help free him up to score.
“We had too many lapses, not defensively just turnovers,” said Talley. “We couldn’t extend the lead and were careless with the ball in the second half.”
Phoenixville sliced the lead to 37-31 by the end of the third quarter.
Brown triggered the run along with Quinn Danna, Dylan Clark, Brendan Jenkins and freshman guard Will Allain. Brown’s rebound led to an Allain drive with 45 seconds left in the period. Then an Allain steal led to Clark’s inside basket with an assist by Jenkins with two seconds left that created the 37-31 Spring-Ford lead after three quarters.
The fourth quarter opened with a steal by Hagan and Phoenixville steals by Jenkins and Clay Kopko before Clark’s move inside cut the lead to 37-33 with 6:46 on the clock.
But the Rams did what they had to do to maintain the lead the rest of the way.
“We definitely showed some good resilience,” said Phoenixville coach Eric Burnett. “Unfortunately, in the first half we didn’t have an answer for Baker in the paint and at the free throw line. For the most part, we did a pretty good job on everybody else. At one point, Baker had 17 points and we had 17. We have to put the ball in the basket. We have to make shots. We definitely have to improve at making shots.”
Jenkins had seven points for the Phantoms while Steven Hamilton and Clark each had six and Danna had five points with a 3-pointer and six rebounds.
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