ROYERSFORD — Marple Newtown was one-and-done in the District One Class AAAA girls basketball tournament. That’s not to say the Tigers’ season was a disappointment.
It was anything but.
The Tigers won 16 games, but couldn’t get their 17th Saturday afternoon against Spring-Ford. The host Rams, a No. 16 seed in name only, dispatched the 17th-seeded Tigers, 60-45, in the opening round.
Spring-Ford, which won back-to-back District One Class AAAA crowns in 2012-13, faces Pioneer Athletic Conference rival and top-seeded Boyertown Wednesday night. Boyertown is undefeated and defeated Spring-Ford twice during the regular season by a combined four points.
Maggie Locke, an impressive 6-1 senior forward and Holy Cross recruit, led the way for the Rams (14-7) with 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting (5-of-5 at the foul line), six rebounds and five steals.
In her final game as a Tiger, senior guard Rylee Power, who recently became the all-time leading scorer in program history, netted 16 points.
The Tigers had no answer for Spring-Ford.
“They jumped out on us in the beginning. The first quarter really killed us,’ said sixth-year coach Mike Colgan, who guided the Tigers to a 16-7 record one year after posting 11 wins and advancing his team to the quarterfinals of the District One AAA tournament. “I don’t think we were ready for their speed. Their aggressiveness on defense … they were trapping and double-teaming and we weren’t spreading the floor well enough. It caught up to us in the first quarter. Turnovers killed us … and we weren’t getting back well enough on defense. I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised, but I think we were surprised by how quickly they got up and down the court.’
Spring-Ford was relentless with its trap defense and did a tremendous job at taking away the baseline play. The strategy limited what Power and senior forward Carley Hamilton (eight points, 10 rebounds) could do on offense. The Tigers didn’t take care of the ball, committing 10 first-quarter turnovers and 20 for the game. At the start of the second quarter, the Tigers found themselves staring at a 19-4 deficit. The Rams used a 21-0 run to pull away and led by as many as 18 points. Power hit a 3-pointer that ended six-minute field goal drought in the first half.
“We watched a lot of film on them and we especially studied Nos. 10 (Power) and 31 (Hamilton),’ Locke said. “We knew that they were their top scorers and we noticed that No. 10 was really strong right-handed, so Jules (Julia Roshelli) was trying to force her left a lot. Carley (Hamilton) is really strong in the low post, so we were just trying to get rebounds and play straight up. It worked out to our advantage.’
Spring-Ford shot the ball extremely well in the first half, converting 50 percent (14-of-28) of its attempts. Power had eight points on 2-of-8 shooting and Hamilton had six points as the Tigers went into the locker room at intermission trailing 36-18.
The Tigers never could keep pace with the running Rams, who scored 18 fast-break points.
“We woke up a little bit, but you can’t give a good team like that a double-digit lead in their house and expect to come back,’ Colgan said. “We tried and we battled. We hung in there after that, but it was a tough start and hard for us to overcome those early struggles.’
Morgan McAndrews, who gave the Tigers a boost off the bench with eight points on 3-of-3 shooting, drained a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to pull her team within 10 points, 50-40. Alas, the Tigers never got any closer.
Power ended her amazing career with 1,377 points, which puts her among the list of the top-30 scorers in Delaware County history.
“She had a great career,’ Colgan said. “We wouldn’t have been here without players like her in the program. We’ve been to the playoffs five times in the last seven years, and Marple had never been in the playoffs before that. Obviously, Rylee was a big part of it.’
Molly Hynes netted 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, while fellow guards Roshelli and Sydney Wagner each added nine points for Spring-Ford.