The regular season ended. The Spring-Ford girls basketball team waited.
The Pioneer Athletic Conference Final Four took place and the three-time defending league champions Rams weren’t invited.
Rather than feeling sorry for themselves during their unexpected two-week break, they focused all their attention on their first-round opponent for the District 1-AAAA playoffs, Marple Newtown.
“We studied this team, we watched film on them, knew who their best players were, knew who was guarding them and focused on just this game. We weren’t trying to look ahead at anything,’ junior forward Maggie Locke said after dispatching the Tigers 60-45 on Saturday.
The Rams don’t need two weeks to prepare for their next opponent.
They know one another too well already.
Spring-Ford takes on Boyertown — who else? — in the second round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs on Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Boyertown. It will be their third meeting of the season after the first two went down to the wire and fittingly added to the classic encounters between the PAC-10 top rivals.
To add to the drama, the winner will earn a spot in the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament and reach the quarterfinals while the loser drops into a playoff for the district’s ninth and 10th berths.
Boyertown is the No. 1 seed in districts, unbeaten at 25-0 and the recently-crowned PAC-10 champion. Spring-Ford is seeded No. 16 and is 15-8 overall. But those numbers don’t indicate how close they were in the regular season.
The first, on Dec. 18, was a controversial 38-36 overtime victory in favor of Boyertown thanks in part to leading scorer Abby Kapp’s tying 3-pointer to close regulation. Then on Jan. 29, Spring-Ford rallied from 12 down early in the fourth quarter to tie it on Julia Roshelli’s steal and layup with under 30 seconds remaining. But the Bears’ Maria Garofolo got her own rebound and kicked it out to Alli Marcus, who buried the game-winning jumper with 4 seconds left to win 46-44.
One of the two has reached the PIAA semifinals in each of the past four seasons. Spring-Ford emerged as the gold standard over the past three years with deep postseason runs — PIAA semifinals in 2012, PIAA champion in 2013 and PIAA finalist in 2014. Boyertown, which handled Central Bucks East 53-38 in the first round, has shifted the scale back the other way by using its size and athleticism to play lock-down defense (31.0 ppg allowed) to go with an excellent No. 1 scoring option in sophomore Kapp (16.5 ppg) and multiple secondary options in Garofolo, Marcus and Ali Bauman (8.3).
Spring-Ford is led in scoring by Locke (11.4 ppg) and Abby Beyer (8.1) and the defense of Roshelli and Amy Roth. The Rams are cast in a foreign role, though.
“I think we really have a point to prove,’ Locke said. “We know how good they are, they’re a very strong team. But both teams know each other really well so it’s going to be a really good game.’
After their last meeting, Boyertown coach Jason Bieber and Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel were saying things like, ‘ We’ve had some epic games … we just have a great rivalry,’ and ‘ It was a typical Boyertown-Spring-Ford game — we have to make things exciting in this rivalry.’
Now imagine if the stakes were higher.
On second thought, no imagination necessary come Wednesday.
Owen J. Roberts, Methacton, Daniel Boone and Perkiomen School saw their seasons come to an end over the weekend in first-round losses in their respective playoffs.
The Wildcats were overmatched by No. 2 seed Central Bucks West, 75-31, on Saturday. OJR, which completed a 10-13 season, was in districts for the first time since 2010 and were led by seniors Nikki Testa and Rebecca Painter.
The Bucks, 24-1 and winners of 18 straight, earned high praise from OJR coach Jeremy Mellon.
“I think in my 10 years (in) coaching, that’s the most complete team I think I’ve seen,’ he said. “We played hard, our effort was great, it was just they are a very complete team that I think will be the frontrunner to win the district title and the state title.’
No. 3 seed Mount St. Joseph downed Methacton 45-31 as the Warriors concluded their season with a 10-13 record. Sophomores Ryan DeOrio and Jackie Cerchio, who each had a team-high seven points against the Mount, will be among the Warriors’ top returners next season.
Daniel Boone fell in a District 3-AAAA first-round game at Ephrata, 43-31. Senior Shelby Vanderslice had seven points for the Blazers (14-11).
Perk School (15-6) enjoyed its third-straight Tri-County League championship on Thursday with a win over Barrack Hebrew Academy, but the Panthers fell in the first round of the PAISAA tournament on Sunday to Baldwin School, 46-36.
More to come
Along with Boyertown and Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley’s postseason continues Wednesday. The No. 10-seed Vikings survived a scare from No. 23 Neshaminy on Saturday, emerging 38-33 in overtime. PV will travel to No. 6 Upper Dublin for a 7 p.m. start.
Pope John Paul II, the No. 2 seed, will begin its District 1-AAA playoff run in a quarterfinal matchup with No. 7 Springfield-Montco. The game is set for 7 p.m. Friday at PJP.