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Methacton holds off Upper Merion

Upper Merion's Isabella Legendre battles Methacton's Jillian Zerbe for a loose ball January 16, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

UPPER MERION >> It looked like it was going to be an easy win for Methacton.

The Warriors led Upper Merion by 10 points after the first quarter, 12 at halftime and 10 with a few seconds to go in the third.

But Jordan Wilson hit a three for the Vikings before the third-quarter buzzer and a basket early in the fourth to cut their deficit to five.

That’s as close as Methacton would let it get. They hit timely shots and did enough to hold on for a 52-44 win at Upper Merion Area High School Tuesday night.

Wilson’s basket made it 41-36 with 7:15 to play.

The score remained the same for more than a minute until Methacton’s Sydney Tornetta made the play the Warriors desperately needed. She raced ahead after a turnover for an old-fashion three-point play to make it 44-36. The lead never dropped below six points the rest of the way.

“I took us out of our slump,” Tornetta said of the three-point play. “We were letting them score over and over again. It was like waking everybody up and saying we need to pick it up more.”

The Warriors struggled with turnovers in the third and fourth quarter — committing 10 after having just three in the first half — but were able to get their offense together when it needed to. They effectively played keep away in the final two minutes and got to the free-throw line 12 times in the fourth quarter.

“They’re learning,” Methacton coach Craig Kaminski said. “They’re learning how to win games now. In the past, I don’t think the last couple games before this we’d be able to do that for two minutes — we’d have to start a lot later than that. They’re starting to get the hang of things and learn where each other are on the floor and when to take that shot and when to not take the shot, let them foul you and make the foul shots.”

“We have a lot of determination and heart,” Tornetta said. “We want to win and we knew this was a big game we needed to win. The fact that we could calm ourselves and be patient was really good for us to be able to keep going with it.”

Upper Merion’s Tymeriah Stanton scored 11 of her team-high 14 points in the second half to help the Vikings claw back into striking distance.

“We finally played our ball,” Upper Merion coach Leah Shumoski said. “We struggle with where shots and where points are going to come from. Tymeriah is a sophomore, she’s finally stepping up — she gets better every day for me and she’s such a great, coachable kid.”

“We trucked, we trucked and we did what we had to to get back in the game. We missed the foul shots that we should have made today and some of the easy put-backs kids aren’t used to making because they haven’t been put in that position. They came up a little short. They fought til the end.”

Tornetta played a big role in Methacton building a double-digit lead. She scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first quarter and finished with eight rebounds and four assists.

“I just had a lot of motivation to beat them,” Tornetta said of the hot start. “My teammates were really kicking in too. That just gave me the momentum and I started to get hype and so did they.”

Olivia Pennypacker and Caroline Pellicano joined Tornetta in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

For Upper Merion, Wilson joined Stanton in double figures with 12 points and Amya Anthony had nine.

Methacton entered Tuesday’s game as No. 26 in the latest unofficial District 1 Class-6A power rankings. The top 24 teams make playoffs.

“We’re right on the edge there,” Kaminski said. “We know we need wins. We need wins against teams that are going to win. Upper Merion has seven wins and they’re probably going to end up with much more when they play their side. It’s also big for our league playoffs. We’re all fighting for those six spots.

“We’re almost playing every game now like a playoff game for district and the final six.”

Upper Merion is in good shape for the postseason. The latest rankings have the Vikings No. 8 in District 1 Class-5A, where the top 16 make the playoffs. They’re also in good shape for the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs, sitting in first place in the Frontier Division.

“We’re sitting pretty,” Shumoski said. “That’s what’s hard for my kids — Our non-league is very difficult … Our record I don’t think is indicative of what we’re capable of if we can get on the same cylinders. We lost early in districts last year. So, our hope is we got tested enough, we want to win enough. We have enough seniors that have something in their belly that when we get to February 20th we can make a little push for a change.”

Methacton 52, Upper Merion 44

Methacton 23 11 7 11 — 52
Upper Merion 13 9 12 10 — 44

M: Cooper 0 5-6 6, Tornetta 5 5-9 17, Pellicano 4 2-3 10, Pennypacker 4 2-3 12, Zerbe 1 0-1 3, Penjuke 2 0-3 5. Total 16 14-23 52.
UM: Wilson 5 1-4 12, Legendre 3 0-2 6, Stanton 6 0-0 14, Anthony 4 0-0 9, Parson 0 1-2 1, Burns 1 0-0 2. Total 19 2-8 44.
Three-point goals: M: Tornetta 2, Pennypacker 2, Zerbe, Penjuke. UM: Wilson, Stanton 2, Anthony.

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