ROYERSFORD >> Everyone inside Spring-Ford’s Gymnasium knew where the ball was headed.
Everyone, that is, except her.
Abby Kapp knocked down the game-winning jumper with 1.1 seconds left in regulation to lead Boyertown past Cardinal O’Hara 39-37 in the semifinal round of the PIAA Class 6A playoffs on Monday night.
"We were trying to run a play to get Alli (Marcus) the ball," recalled Kapp of the inbound play, "but they were face-guarding her because they didn’t want us to get into any offensive set. So I heard coach (Jason) Bieber say, ‘Abby, go get the ball.’"
Abby Kapp! 39-37! pic.twitter.com/CZTj55Rd2T— Thomas Nash (@Thomas_Nash10) March 21, 2017
Kapp got the ball, got to her spot and proceeded to get the Bears to their first state final in school history while sending defending state runner-up and District 12 champ Cardinal O’Hara home empty handed. Boyertown will face off against North Allegheny (winner over Souderton) in Friday night’s state championship game (6 p.m.) at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Just two days after she nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in the quarterfinal round, she was at it again. Kapp corralled the ball at half court and glanced up at the clock.
What happened next was vintage Abby Kapp.
The Bucknell commit dribbled it into the paint, backed down her defender, then hit a turnaround jump shot with three sets of hands closing in for her second game-winner in the past two games.
"We went thumb-down, which is our clear-out play usually for our point guard to go to the basket," said Bieber, "but heck, why would we want anybody else shooting the ball (in that situation) but Abby?"
"I saw them (O’Hara) trying to take my driving lanes away," said Kapp, "and knew I had to shoot the ball. My teammates trust me to shoot that shot."
Boyertown is headed to Hershey! pic.twitter.com/BJvxhxYXjX— Thomas Nash (@Thomas_Nash10) March 21, 2017
Kapp’s shot put a cap on a phenomenal back-and-forth effort from both sides.
Trailing by two entering the fourth (31-29), Boyertown went on a five-minute, six-point run bookended by an oh-so-familiar Kapp turnaround jumper with under two minutes to go. Mary Sheehan ended the run a few seconds later on a right-handed drive to the basket.
Kapp finished with a team-high 15 points and battled in the paint for 10 boards to go along with a pair of blocked shots that both sent a wave up the Richter Scale.
Junior guard Victoria Boalton knocked down a pair of step-back 3-pointers en route to 10 points. Her textbook euro-step layup with just over a minute left in the first half sent the Bears into the locker room with a 22-21 lead.
"Tori played her heart out tonight and had a lot of key plays and shots for us to be successful," said Bieber. "There are so many unsung heroes on this team. They all do something for us and lift each other up."
Senior guard Katie Armstrong scored eight points, twice connecting from 3-point range while Alli Marcus was a clean 4-for-4 from the free-throw line on the way to six points. Kylie Webb was a fixture on the defensive end.
Coming off Saturday’s win over Northampton where Boyertown was outsized throughout, Bieber favored the matchups against guard-oriented Cardinal O’Hara.
"We felt from day one that we really could match up with this team," said Bieber. "We thought athletically we could stick with them. It was just a matter of who was hitting more shots."
Sheehan, a senior wing, led the Lions with 15 points, including a drive to tie the game at 35-35 with a minute left. Drexel recruit Maura Hendrixson followed with 11 points including three 3-pointers.
Another advantage, admits Bieber, had been the road to the semifinal round.
Boyertown’s previous two wins had come off late heroics to go along with their opening win over Cumberland Valley, where the Bears ran away with it in the fourth quarter. Cardinal O’Hara, on the other hand, played tight versus North Penn Saturday, but had won their previous two games by at least 20 points."We thought this was going to be a close game until the end, and that would be a benefit to us," said Bieber. "We’ve won a lot of these grind-it-out games all year and they haven’t (had to do the same). They won a lot of games pretty handily. We really felt, down the stretch, we’d be comfortable to win the game."