Spring-Ford holds off North Penn’s late charge to reach District 1-AAAA semis

Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel knew at some moment, despite its offensive struggles, the North Penn girls basketball team was going to make a comeback charge Monday night.p>

“When you’re playing a good team like North Penn, if you have control of the game, they’re going to make sure they get control of the game at some point,’ he said. “And they’re so well-coached, (Maidens coach) Maggie (deMarteleire) does an awesome job and we have to be aware they’re going to make that run.’

Led by Jess Huber, the eighth-seeded Maidens rallied to cut No. 16 Spring-Ford’s 10-point lead in the fourth quarter down to two with 1:50 remaining in their District 1-AAAA quarterfinal. But a go-ahead three attempt by the NP sophomore did not go down and the visiting Rams converted late free throws to hold on for a 41-35 victory and reach the district semis for the fourth straight season.

“This senior class, this is first senior class to make the state tournament four years in a row. They’re the first senior class to go to the semifinals four years in a row,’ McDaniel said. “So there’s a lot of first, it means a lot for the program and what the future holds.

Maddie Haney had 13 points to pace the Rams (17-8), who face No. 5 Abington — which upset No. Garnet Valley 51-39 — in the semis 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Council Rock South. A win over the Ghost sends Spring-Ford to a fourth-consecutive district final.

“It’s awesome to be apart of a great program and a great team that can make these runs,’ Haney said. “I’m blessed to be a part of this team.’

Maggie Locke added 11 points — seven coming from the foul line — while Julia Roshelli collected seven of her nine points in the first half.

Cold shooting and turnovers had defending district champ North Penn (19-7) stuck on six points for a while in the first half. The Maidens improved on both after halftime, but a few crucial shots could not find their way into the bottom of the net.

“We watched game tape of them against Boyertown and a couple other games and they really pressure a lot more on the half court, like on the sidelines and stuff like that. I don’t know if I overemphasized that and they really didn’t do that,’ deMarteleire said. “They didn’t trap — usually they trap on the sidelines and stuff — and they really didn’t trap that much in the halfcourt. And I guess we were anticipating that, I don’t know, we had open looks and we missed layups, missed foul shots, we missed wide-open threes. And then careless turnovers.’

Huber had a team-high 13 points while Taylor Thames added nine points for the Maidens, who visit Garnet Valley in the fifth-place semifinals Wednesday.

“I like to see us just make better decision offensively,’ deMarteleire said. “That’s really what I would like to see.’

A basket by Haney and two Locke free throws with 5:38 in the fourth put Spring-Ford up 33-23 before buckets from Bri Hewlett and Thames cut NP’s deficit to six. Locke went 1-of-2 from the line at 3:41 to make it 34-27, but the Maidens scored the next five points the last five from Huber. The sophomore worked inside then hit a short turnaround jumper and was fouled to get North Penn within 34-32 with 1:50 remaining.

“I got to give the kids credit. And Jess Huber’s just been having a great run in the playoffs,’ deMarteleire said. “She’s really stepped up and played really well — rebounding and she’s a like a go-to scorer cause she do a lot of things. She’s a big, strong girl and she’s really stepping up.’

Huber couldn’t hit the and-one, but the Maidens forced an over-and-back. Huber got an open try at a three from the wing, yet the shot hit iron and Locke pulled down the rebound. Locke went 1-for-2 from the line to keep it a one-possession game with 1:35 left, but North Penn was called for traveling and Abby Beyer hit both ends of a one-and-one for a 37-32 with 53.6 seconds.

NP’s Sam Carangi was fouled with 46.5 seconds, hit the front end of a one-and-one, while Spring-Ford was whistled for a foul after she missed the second. But Mikaela Giuliani was off-target on her one-and-one chance and Haney hit two from the stripe at 30.4 for a six-point Rams lead.

Spring-Ford went 7-of-9 from the line in the final 1:35 and 10-of-12 in the fourth.

“In practice, all we do is practice free throws,’ Haney said. “We’re ready when the time comes.’

North Penn jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter, but Spring-Ford answered with the next nine, a basket by Haney inside giving the Rams a 9-4 lead before Irisa Ye’s late jumper made it 9-6 after eight minutes.

Miscues and missed shots helped Spring-Ford open the second quarter on a 8-0 run capped by Haney’s three-point play off a steal, putting the Rams ahead 17-6 at 3:09.

“We came out fired up and we knew what we had to do to get to the semifinals,’ Haney said. “That was our motivation. We came out and did well.’

A Huber three ended the run. Roshelli scored on a drive before two points from Huber had North Penn within 19-11 at halftime.

Spring-Ford pushed its advantage to nine twice in the third — the last time at 25-16 — but a basket by Giuliani made it 29-23 entering the fourth.

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