Bears become remembered for more than their record

PHOENIXVILLE — There are no banners hung in gymnasiums that read, ‘ PAC-10 runner-up — 23-1 record.’

Twenty-three wins and zero losses is an impressive accomplishment, anyone would admit.

But all those wins carry less weight if they don’t have a championship attached to them.

Boyertown head coach Jason Bieber knows what it’s like.

“I was part of a soccer team that had three losses, no championships. We lost every game in the championship,’ Bieber. “Yeah, you remember an undefeated season, but the teams you remember are championship teams.’

Fortunately, his Bears don’t need to know that feeling. Nor do they have to worry about banner issues.

The 2014-15 Boyertown girls basketball team’s will read ‘ undefeated PAC-10 champion.’

The Bears did it with a gritty 38-29 victory over Perkiomen Valley Wednesday night at Phoenixville Area High School, the program’s first PAC-10 title since back-to-back crowns in 2010 and 2011.

“23-0 is insane to us but we really just wanted to cap it all off by winning this championship. It’s an amazing feeling,’ junior Maria Garofolo said.

Like the sixth-year coach, senior Jordan Webb — the only Boyertown senior to play heavy minutes — had her own memories to call upon.

“It’s the first time since Kelly (Furman) and Jess (Schlessman’s) year and I remember watching them win it. It’s an awesome feeling knowing we’re on top,’ Webb said. “We worked really hard to be here. We knew that if we did what we normally do that we would have this game.’

It didn’t end up being the dominant performance they might have envisioned before the game or even at halftime with an 11-point lead (22-11) and their leading scorer Abby Kapp scorching hot with 12 first-half points while making 8 of the 10 shots she took (including free throws). All while holding the Vikings to 3-for-18 from the floor.

Perk Valley raised its game defensively in the second half and even cut the Boyertown lead down to three (32-29) with 1:12 to play.

Yet Boyertown’s winning pedigree took over, all while only recording one field goal — that’s right, one — in the entire second half.

That had to do with making its free throws, which was once an Achilles, but is now a strength.

“One thing different about this team is, in the past, teams would just foul us and expect us to miss our foul shots,’ Bieber said. “This year they make them. Alli Marcus stepped up, Maria Garofolo had lot of big foul shots she made as well.’

“But it came down to our defense. At the end of the day we held another team to under 30 points and that’s been our key to success all year.’

That defensive presence was led by Garofolo, who had the task of marking area leading scorer KT Armstrong. Garofolo wasn’t able to hold Armstrong to the target of 12 points allowed she set in their previous regular season meeting — a 47-28 Bears’ win on Jan. 27. But she wasn’t to be denied in the final — Armstrong scored 11 — despite being ill throughout the day.

“When times get tough we really stick together and are able to pull out the wins,’ Garofolo said.

Easily overlooked is that it was the first PAC-10 playoff appearance for any Boyertown player, having been outsiders during Spring-Ford and Methacton’s runs in the previous three years.

It largely began at the start of last year with Kapp and Marcus as freshmen and a strong core of then-sophomores in Garofolo, Ali Bauman and Sarafina Valenti and juniors Webb and Hannah Jaskuta.

“Last year we knew we were in a transition year,’ Bieber said. “We had a lot of young kids coming up through the program and we subbed a lot of kids in and out knowing that our next few years we were going to have a really good team. Last year, 16-7 was not a bad year at all.’

“We could have gone farther last year when we played Souderton in districts,’ Webb said. “We could have gone farther but it happened and we moved on. This year we came out with fire and we have been on.’

It culminates — at least for the moment — with a PAC-10 championship. But that isn’t the only title the Bears are eyeing.

“This whole group had never played in a championship before and to get them here was what we talked about. They bought into the system and did great,’ Bieber said. “This is the first of hopefully many that we have the opportunity to play for. (Winning the PAC-10) was a big goal and something we wanted to do.”

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