GRATERFORD >> All season long, Methacton’s greatest strength has been its offensive balance.
With 6-9 center Jeff Woodward manning the paint and a slew of armed shooters scattered throughout the lineup, the Warriors can wreak havoc on the most defensive-minded teams.
On Friday night, Methacton put that balance on that display yet again, powering its way to a 64-56 win over Perkiomen Valley in a Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division matchup.
“Inside-out, if we’re playing to our strengths and shooting well, there’s really no one who can guard us up and down,” said Woodward, a sophomore who scored 16 points. “When we’re hitting shots from the outside, that opens things up in the paint. And then once we start attacking the paint, that opens things up for the guys outside. Once (the defenders) take one thing away, we’ve always got that other option.”
With the win, Methacton (7-3 PAC Liberty, 10-3 PAC, 14-7 overall) cements itself as the Liberty Division’s No. 2 seed in next week’s PAC Final Six playoffs. Perkiomen Valley (5-6 Liberty, 7-6 PAC, 12-9 overall) will be scoreboard-watching Saturday during Pottsgrove’s matchup against Pope John Paul II. If PJP pulls out the win, Perk Valley will claim the conference’s No. 6 seed based on tie-break criteria. If Pottsgrove wins, Owen J. Roberts will eke out the final seed based on District 1 power points, which will be finalized Sunday morning.
For the night, Methacton was 6-for-18 from 3-point land. Junior guard David Duda connected twice from deep on the way to 16 points and sophomore guard Brett Eberly added a pair of 3-pointers while scoring 10 points.
“You can scheme all you want to guard a guy like Woodward,” said Perk Valley head coach Michael Poysden, “but what makes him even tougher is that Methacton has all those shooters around the outside. They’ll gladly shoot threes or give it to him. That’s tough to stop.”
“We see it in practice a lot in practice,” said Methacton head coach Jeff Derstine of his team’s shooting ability. “We had a couple games leading up to this one where we really shot the lights out. Tonight, we overcame a cold run early and turned in a strong third quarter.”
That third quarter proved all the difference.
With a 23-19 lead at the half, Methacton limited Perk Valley to just two points in the third, ending the quarter on a 12-0 run to bring a 39-21 lead into the final frame.
Defensively, the Warriors keyed in on junior Tyler Strechay throughout, holding Perk Valley’s standout wing to a pedestrian four points. Strechay was a marked man all throughout the night, battling against senior Noah Kitaw to go along with plenty of double-team pressure.
“That’s part of the development of becoming an even better player,” said Poysden of Strechay, who had been averaging just under 17 points per game coming in. “A player like him is going to get a lot of defensive attention, now (he’s) got to screen (his) way out.”
Stepping up while Strechay received all the defensive attention, point guard Kevin Bernabe scored a game-high 19 points — 15 during the first half — with a trio of 3-pointers.
Trailing by as much as 21 points early in the fourth, Perk Valley refused to go down quietly. Andrew Light scored all 12 of his points during the quarter while Zach Krause connected on consecutive 3-pointers to bring Perk Valley back within 10 before Methacton closed it out at the free throw line.
It was a resilience that stood out to Poysden.
“What screams off the page for me is that weaker teams would have let this one get out of hand,” he said. “I thought our guys showed an incredible amount of resiliency in fighting back.”
With the PAC playoffs looming but not yet quite settled, both teams’ opponent at this point is the unknown.
“For us, whoever they say we’re gonna play, we’ll prepare in practice and come out ready to go,” said Derstine.
And in the case their name is called, Poysden and the Vikings will be plenty ready for what lies ahead.
“We’ve got to be ready for what’s next,” he said, “whether that’s the PAC or District One playoffs.”
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