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Hot-handed Pierce shoots Spring-Ford past Owen J. Roberts in key Liberty clash

ROYERSFORD >> Early on in the fourth quarter, Harrison Pierce shot a 3-pointer that caught the front of the rim.

As the ball spun through the air, the Spring-Ford senior shouted ‘Get in there!’ before the ball fell through the net and sent the Spring-Ford faithful into an uproar.

That told the tale of the night Thursday inside Ram Gymnasium.

Pierce hit seven 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 27 points in leading Spring-Ford to a crucial 77-61 win over Owen J. Roberts in a key Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division matchup.

Spring-Ford’s Harrison Pierce (3) lofts a shot over Owen J. Roberts’ Sa’Vaughn Davidheiser. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

“That was probably the biggest game of our season,” said Pierce, whose previous season-best was 14 points. “I knew just about every shot I made was going in. Everything was feeling good coming out of my hands.”

The Rams improve to 5-5 against Liberty Division opponents (8-5 PAC, 12-9 overall) and secure a wild-card seed in next week’s PAC playoffs. Meanwhile, Owen J. Roberts (4-6 Liberty, 7-6 PAC, 13-8 overall) will be scoreboard watching Friday night during Perkiomen Valley’s game against Methacton. A win by the Vikings would end OJR’s playoff hopes while a loss would force a criteria tie-break ruling.

Spring-Ford’s Robert Bobeck goes up for a bucket during the second half of Thursday’s game against Owen J. Roberts. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

For the night, Spring-Ford shot an impressive 11-for-18 from 3-point land — that after shooting 0-for-5 from deep in the opening quarter. Pierce and senior forward Nestor Diaz traded 3-balls back and forth throughout the second quarter, sparking a key 18-4 run to close out the quarter and give the Rams a 36-31 lead heading into the half.

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” said Spring-Ford head coach Chris Talley of Pierce’s breakout performance. “There are times in practice where that kid doesn’t miss. So it was probably overdue for him to have a game like this. That’s what you want from a senior.”

Behind Pierce, forward Robert Bobeck battled in the paint for 13 points while Diaz added another 13.

Dawson Stuart paced OJR with 21 points, 14 of which came during the second quarter. Shyheed May scored 13 while Sean Praweckyj added eight.

Spring-Ford’s Noah Baker (23) splits a pair of Owen J. Roberts defenders during the second half of Thursday’s game. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Pierce kicked off the third quarter right where he left off at the half.

He connected on another pair of 3-pointers, but OJR kept it tight after consecutive 3-pointers from senior forward Stuart and junior guard Nick Massa to make it 42-41. The Wildcats then eventually took the lead back a few minutes later when May scored on a put-back to make it 45-44.

From there, both teams traded buckets back and forth with Spring-Ford sophomore guard Tyler Scilingo knocking down a late 3-pointer to make it 51-51 headed into the final frame.

“They just made some shots, a lot more than us,” said Owen J. Roberts head coach Kevin Kirby of the Rams. “There’s not much you can do when a team is knocking down shots like they were. I thought we got good shots all game, we took care of the ball.”

Spring-Ford’s Austin Hokanson (44) passes around the defense of Owen J. Roberts’ Sa’Vaughn Davidheiser during Thursday’s game. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Spring-Ford junior wing Noah Baker opened the fourth quarter with an and-one finish before OJR was called for a technical foul. Just like that, the Rams held a 56-51 lead, one they’d extend to 61-51 within the next two minutes before they eventually ran away with it.

It was a frustrating swing of events for Kirby and the Wildcats, who had played the Rams tight throughout the night.

“We played through some things, but the bottom line was that they played better than us in the fourth quarter,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job on the offensive glass. They got nine or 10 offensive rebounds and I think we got two. When a team is shooting like they did, you can’t afford to give up that many extra looks.”

With their fourth straight PAC playoff appearance secure, Talley was proud of his players’ ability to step up and not get caught up in the moment.

“We didn’t want it to come down to a scenario where another team had to win or another team had to lose,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we punched our own ticket to the playoffs.”

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