BETHLEHEM >> For about 36 minutes of Saturday’s game between Perkiomen Valley and William Allen, the two teams were dead even.
One four-minute stretch at the beginning of the fourth quarter ended up being the difference in the game.
William Allen defeated Perkiomen Valley, 52-46, in the PIAA Class 6A first round matchup at Freedom High School, using a 12-1 run at the start of the final period to separate itself before holding on down the stretch.
The Vikings dictated the pace of the game throughout, but for a few minutes the Canaries’ pressure helped pick up the pace and deliver William Allen the win. The District 11 champions will face La Salle High School in the second round on Wednesday.
“That was our objective of the game, but it didn’t work most of the game,” William Allen head coach Doug Snyder said. “It worked for a couple minutes, which was enough to pull out this victory.”
Perkiomen Valley’s (20-10) offense and defense frustrated William Allen (18-9) in the first half. The Vikings held the ball for long stretches on offense, while keeping the Canaries from getting into a flow on offense.
After holding a 9-5 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Vikings went into halftime up, 18-17. Senior guard Zach Krause was lights-out in the first half, scoring 13 of his game-high 20 points, including three 3-pointers.
“We just wanted to set the tempo defensively and kind of slow the game down,” Krause said. “On offense, we just wanted to grind and get good shots.”
“That’s another team that likes to play in the 60s and 70s,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Mike Poysden added. “Walking into halftime with 17 points, we’re doing something right.”
Allen scored 20 seconds into the second half to take its first lead since the early moments of the game. It was the first of seven lead changes in the quarter before the two teams entered the fourth tied at 30. Allen Young, who finished with 10 points, scored seven in the quarter for the Canaries.
Perkiomen Valley senior Tyler Strechay, who finished with 17 points, opened the scoring in the fourth. After that came a 12-1 run by the Canaries, putting William Allen up 42-33 with 4:21 to play.
“I felt like the game got sped up a little bit too much that we didn’t like,” Krause said. “We wanted to calm the game down, but we just couldn’t. And we missed a lot of big shots.”
Strechay reeled off five unanswered to pull the Vikings within four with 2:44 left to play. He finished with nine in the fourth quarter.
A few missed free throws by the Canaries kept Perkiomen Valley in the game, and a three by Krause pulled the Vikings within three, 49-46, with 21.3 seconds left. Perkiomen Valley sent Canaries sophomore Emmanuel Ozuna to the line, who missed both free throws, giving the Vikings a chance.
Krause got an open look from a few feet from behind the 3-point line, but it came up short, and freshman Nate Ellis knocked down a pair of free throws to seals the win for William Allen. Junior forward Alexis Adames led William Allen with 13 points, and Ozuna added nine. Sophomore Kameron Parks scored seven points for the Vikings.
“I thought we came in and executed our game plan,” Poysden said. “I think some shots didn’t fall. Strech had a couple shots rimming out, Zach had a couple. If they go down, we’re having a different conversation.”
When Perkiomen Valley made the PIAA tournament in 2017, it was the Vikings’ first state appearance in 43 years. A win against Roman Catholic in the first round of the state playoffs in 2017 was Perkiomen Valley’s first such victory in 45 years, and just second in school history.
Just two seasons removed from that 2017 squad, the Vikings made states for the fourth time in school history this season. Strechay was the only member of this year’s group to see action for that team.
After Saturday’s game, Poysden reeled off the team’s accomplishments during Strechay’s four seasons.
“Played in three league championship games, won four district openers, qualified for states twice,” he said, “scored close to 1,300 points, while there was another 1,000-point scorer on the team. And this is his hobby. He’s a baseball guy.
“What we try to impress upon the young guys is there’s this sort of torch of expectation that first group of mine passed down to Tyler Krause, who passed it down to Justin (Jaworski), who passed it down to Strech. It becomes infectious.”
Along with Strechay and Krause, the Vikings graduate senior guard AJ Hansen, senior forwards Ian and Bryce Streeper and senior wing Connor McShea, who returned from injury for the team’s postseason run. Along with Saturday’s state playoff appearance, the group helped the Vikings make it to the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship game and District 1-6A quarterfinals.
“It means a lot to us,” Krause said of the team’s accomplishments this season. “We have good chemistry. We’ve been playing since we were in middle school. We just wanted to come out and show what we had.”
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