GRATERFORD >> Thursday night’s showdown between Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley, the top 2 teams in the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s Liberty Division, didn’t meet expectations.
And that’s exactly how the Vikings liked it.
“Going into this game, a lot of people were predicting Spring-Ford to win and weren’t even giving us a chance, which was so much of a motivator for us,” senior Megan Jonassen said.
Even trailing by seven at halftime, Perkiomen Valley proved it was a bad idea to count it out after a determined second-half performance on both ends of the floor guided the Vikings to a 49-43 victory that dealt Spring-Ford its first loss of the season.
“It’s a great win. It’s a huge rival and they’re a really good team, 10th in the state, No. 1 in the district, so we knew we had to come out strong and play as a team and play with 10 times the energy they came out with,” Jonassen said.
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) January 26, 2018
Perk Valley (7-1 PAC Liberty, 10-1 PAC, 14-4 overall) held Spring-Ford to just 16 second-half points, including six in the third quarter. Jonassen jolted the Vikings offense with a game-high 20 points while senior Kelly Owens scored 12, including two crucial 3-pointers, a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter tied 33-33 and the 3 that gave PV the lead for good up 42-41 with 4:07 remaining.
Senior forward Taylor Hamm chipped in with 10 points, but impressed as a ballhandler to help the Vikings’ guards against the Rams’ trap defense.
“Normally I help bring up the ball because after I inbound it they don’t normally guard me or think I’ll be able to handle anything,” Hamm said. “We work together to handle all the pressure. We have multiple people bringing up the ball so they don’t have just one person they can target.”
Speaking of targets, Jonassen and the Vikings welcome the one that may be coming their way after knocking off the previously undefeated Rams.
“We had a bit of a rough start and have four losses, but I think this win proves that we’re a target, and people need to watch out for us because we’re determined to go far. I’m fine with a target on us,” Jonassen said. “We realize now what we can do and what we’re capable of. That’s huge and it will take us far.”
“If we play a complete game, there’s hardly anyone that can stop us,” Hamm said.
Balanced Spring-Ford (6-1, 9-1, 15-1) got 11 points from freshman guard Lucy Olsen and 10 from forward Abby Goodrich.
Hammer time >> The first half had multiple big swings both directions, with Spring-Ford leading by as much as nine twice (13-4 and 27-18). PV turned the game in the third quarter, in part thanks to the defensive contribution of 6-3 reserve forward Sarah Njissen, according to PV coach John Strawoet.
The Vikings went to a 2-3 zone defense with Njissen in the middle, her length creating issues for S-F driving lanes.
“She did a wonderful job,” Strawoet said. “It really kept them from driving the ball to the basket. She received our Hammer Award tonight for the player who the coaches think turned the game for the team.”
Only one >> One loss doesn’t overshadow the Rams’ excellent start to the season, a 15-game win streak that included a 61-50 win over PV on Dec. 21, 2017.
“They’re a very unselfish group and played with a lot of composure and poise through that 15-game run,” Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel said. “I don’t believe in there being good losses, because no one ever wants to lose. We’ll learn now who we are in the face of adversity with a loss.
“I love this group. There’s something very special about them and I know they’ll be ready to work hard tomorrow.”
Spring-Ford clinches a PAC playoff place with another win and though the loss dropped them to No. 3 in the District 1-6A power rankings, they remain in firm position to earn a first-round bye in districts.
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