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Spring-Ford downs Phoenixville to continue unbeaten start

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ROYERSFORD >> Admittedly dealing with a stomach bug in the days leading up, Spring-Ford head coach Mickey McDaniel received a much-needed remedy on Tuesday afternoon.

McDaniel and the Rams continued their unbeaten start to the season by downing Phoenixville, 43-27, in a Pioneer Athletic Conference divisional crossover matchup.

Spring-Ford’s Dez Engle (14) rises up for a shot during the first half against Phoenixville. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Spring-Ford (4-0 PAC Liberty; 12-0 overall) mixed in a heavy dose of outside shooting as well as an inside presence on the way to one of its more solid defensive showings of the season. The loss drops Phoenixville drops to 7-7 overall (2-3 PAC Frontier).

“What we do is we want to play our game no matter who we’re up against,” said McDaniel.

Freshman guard Lucy Olsen finished with a game-high 16 points, featuring three 3-pointers, while junior wing Cassie Marte was a presence all over the floor as she finished with nine points.

Spring-Ford’s Lucy Olsen (1) follows through on a 3-point attempt during the second half Tuesday. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

“We’re not the biggest team out there, so we’ve got to use our speed to our advantage,” said Marte. “We started out kind of slow in the first quarter, but once we started to spread the floor, that opened things up for our offense.”

Leading 11-10 midway through the second, the Rams put together a 15-2 run to close out the quarter — capped by a 3-pointer from Marte to take a 26-12 lead into the half. From there, the Phantoms put together a couple second-half runs, but never enough to make up for Spring-Ford’s advantage.

“We made some runs and we missed a couple layups here or there that would have kept a run going,” said Phoenixville head coach A.J. Thompson. “And with a team like Spring-Ford, you miss a layup or turn the ball over — Boom, they hit a three and next thing you know you’re down 12. You’ve got to capitalize on chances against a team like that.”

Phoenixville’s Ameerah Green (30) dribbles it up while being guarded by Spring-Ford’s Cassie Marte (40). (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Freshman guard Aubrie Breisblatt led the Phantoms with nine points on the night while junior guard Ameerah Green had six. Senior center Jasmine Hamilton battled in the paint for four points.

“Our girls played super hard, so we’ll take it,” added Thompson. “We’ve got eight games left and we’re on the verge of districts. We’ll see how many of these games we can squeak out.”

Meanwhile, the last thing Spring-Ford is thinking about right now is what lies in the coming weeks.

Spring-Ford’s Ali Higgins looks to pass while a host of Phoenixville defenders move in during the second half of Tuesday’s game.(Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

With the words “Next Game” etched on the board in their locker room, the Rams remain focused on what lies in the near future, rather than what stands beyond.

“Down in the locker room, we all just talk about how it’s the next game, next practice,” said Olsen. “We’re 12-0 but right now that doesn’t really matter. We’ve got to be ready for the next game.”

“That’s a great tribute to them,” said McDaniel of his team. “They’re a very unselfish group and they keep things in perspective. That’s a really important thing.”

Spring-Ford’s Lucy Olsen (1) brings the ball up during the first half of Tuesday’s game against Phoenixville. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Divide & Conquer >> The divisional crossover matchups haven’t been all that friendly to the Frontier Division, Phoenixville included. The Phantoms finished 0-3 in crossover play with losses against Owen J. Roberts and Perkiomen Valley last week.

“We’re up against teams that are bigger than us and deeper than us,” said Thompson, “and we battled in all three games. Anytime you play in the crossover games, you know what you’re getting into. The girls competed in all three games and that’s all we can ask for.”

Of the cross-divisional games played so far this season, the Liberty Division boasts a dominant 15-1 record against Frontier Division opponents. The lone blemish so far has proven to be Pottsgrove’s 38-35 win over Norristown Tuesday night.

Fresh Air >> Olsen has been making quite an impact as a freshman contributor with the Rams.

She’s averaging just a shade under 10 points-per-game with five double-digit outings to her credit so far this season.

“I just play my game,” said Olsen. “I try not to let things get in my head — varsity or whatever I just play. I’ve had a lot of people, especially my teammates, helping me adjust.”

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