Perkiomen Valley overcomes sloppy performance, tops Neshaminy in District 1-AAAA opener

GRATERFORD — Perkiomen Valley is moving on to the second round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs.

How it did so, however, wasn’t pretty.

Marred by the team’s woeful effort from the foul line, KT Armstrong buckled down when it mattered most, converting all of her free throw attempts in overtime as the Vikings overcame a sloppy performance en route to a 39-33 victory over Neshaminy Saturday afternoon in the first round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs.

The win propels the Vikings to a date with No. 7 Upper Dublin in the second round Wednesday night. The Lady Cardinals topped Pennridge, 65-38, in their first round matchup and were led by the 30-point effort from Julie Cross.

“Ugly with a capital ‘ U,” Perkiomen Valley head coach John Strawoet said in regard to his team’s victory. “Sometimes you win ugly, that’s just the way it is. Hopefully we’ll get things squared away for Wednesday.’

Perkiomen Valley’s offense was lackluster against Neshaminy’s 2-3 zone throughout. The Vikings shot 33 percent from the field and were reluctant to fire from the wing with open looks. The team also shot 3-of-14 from the foul line in regulation and benefitted from Katie Leahy’s 1-for-2 effort in the waning seconds to tie the game at 30 and send it into overtime.

“Again, we’ve never been here,’ Strawoet said. “There’s a tension there and there’s a fear of doing something wrong. In that situation we were just tense and tight and didn’t shoot the basketball when we should have. The 2-3 just gave us all kinds of trouble.’

Ultimately, however, all the Vikings’ woes were quickly subdued by the play of Armstrong.

The junior guard played hero in the extra session, scoring nine of her game-high 18 in overtime, including a tide-changing 3-pointer to open up the frame. Armstrong also reversed the team’s free throw shooting woes as she converted on all six of her free throw attempts in the game’s final minutes.

“It felt really good to knock them down, it’s usually something that I am comfortable with,’ Armstrong said. “I’m just glad that I could execute and give us the lead.

“(The first four quarters) might have been a little bit frustrating but I wasn’t worried. I knew we were able to go on a run or do something. We were playing well, we just weren’t taking enough shots.’

Taylor Hamm finished with nine points in the win that spoiled an otherwise remarkable effort from No. 23 Neshaminy. Thyra Tuttle led the Redskins with 12 points — all coming from beyond the arc — as Neshaminy kept pace with the Vikings throughout,  holding leads of 12-11, 23-21 and finally, 30-29 in the game’s waning seconds.

“She wasn’t on our radar at all. I’ve seen them, I’ve scouted them, she wasn’t on our radar at all,’ Strawoet said of Tuttle.

Morgan Goldenbaum and Tiara Porterfield were also difference makers, scoring seven and six points, respectively, but the Redskins’ turned cold in the overtime period as the team shot 1-for-6 from the field and 1-for-4 from the foul line, allowing Armstrong to put the game away at the other end.

“They’re (Perkiomen Valley) a good team, we have a lot of respect for them,’ Neshaminy head coach Joseph Lally said. “We’ve played them twice, last year in the regular season, this year in the regular season. I think a lot of people give credit to KT because she’s a very good player, obviously, but their supporting cast is very nice. They play well, they’re coached well. We only have one senior. The majority of the group is coming back next year. Basketball is a cold game sometimes but there are lessons to be learned here.

“We were semi-confident that we could stay away from that bad quarter, ironically enough it came in overtime. To their credit, in the fifth quarter they found that quarter that we didn’t play well in and they won the game.’

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