BOYERTOWN >> It was hardly panic time, but things were getting a little tense on the Perkiomen Valley sideline.
With 5:32 to play in the second quarter, Pope John Paul II had taken a three-point lead, and sent PV star forward Megan Jonassen to the bench with her third foul.
Enter senior forward Megan Moore, who stemmed the tide for the Vikings. Moore put up nine points from that point until halftime, helping PV regain control of a sloppy first half and ultimately claim a 64-54 victory in a PAC semifinal contest at Boyertown Area High School.
Jonassen would return after halftime to score all 18 of her game-high points, while Taylor Hamm added 15 points and 16 rebounds.
But it was Moore’s play in the second quarter that allowed the Vikings to take control before the break.
“When Meg (Jonassen) got into foul trouble, I knew it was my turn to step up,” said Moore. “Meg and Taylor are important to our team – but if one of them is out, someone else has to step up.”
PV had to overcome 17 turnovers against a game PJP squad that applied constant pressure to their ballhandlers.
“At halftime, we talked about avoiding turnovers and playing team basketball,” said PV coach John Strawoet. “When we have people contributing from everywhere, Megan Moore, plus Sara Nijssen, Naiya Dailey, and Katie Hurd off the bench … that makes us real tough.”
The win sends the Vikings (19-5) into Wednesday night’s PAC title game with Spring-Ford (also to be played at Boyertown), who topped Methacton in the evening’s first semifinal. The title game will serve as a rubber match for the top two teams in the conference, who split their season series. Spring-Ford downed the Vikings 61-50 on December 21 before PV answered with a 49-43 victory on January 25.
After watching PV jump to a 7-0 lead, PJP turned up the heat, forcing several turnovers in the backcourt and causing foul trouble for the Vikings’ frontcourt. Elyse Sylvester’s steal-and-score tied the game at 9, and Grace Cobaugh went to the line to give PJP the lead after one.
Jonassen went to the bench with the Vikings down 14-11, but the re-entry of Moore turned the tide.
Moore reeled off seven straight for PV to reclaim the lead. Sara Nijssen and Taylor Hamm would contribute offensive putbacks before a Kelly Owens 3 sent PV to the locker room with a six-point edge.
When Jonassen returned after the break, she made up for lost time in a hurry, reeling off PV’s first nine points of the third quarter as the Vikings opened the game’s first double-digit lead. By the end of the quarter, she’d compiled 11 points and pushed the Vikings to a 46-32 advantage.
“When I know I’m in foul trouble, I adjust mentally rather than physically,” said Jonassen. “I don’t have to lose my aggressiveness as long as I play smart.”
For the Panthers (13-9) they await word of the first-round 5A District opponent, with seedings and matchups to be announced Sunday morning. As of Saturday, PJP was rated #8, with 16 teams ultimately set to qualify.
Kayla Mesaros led PJP with 15 points, with Elyse Sylvester just behind her with 14.
“Stacey (Huntington, coach of PJP) does a great job with them,” said Strawoet. “They’re very quick and tenacious defensively.”
On the victors’ side, Perk Valley now looks to the rubber match with Spring-Ford Wednesday night. “That’s where we wanted to be,” said Strawoet.
“They’re very disciplined. There’s a reason they’ve only lost two games. We just have to do what we do best.”
And avoid some potential pitfalls, specifically…
“Once again, we have to avoid turnovers and foul trouble.”