CONCORD >> Garnet Valley played a numbers game with Spring-Ford in the second round of the District One Class AAAA tournament Wednesday night.
Despite the fact that the numbers didn’t always turn out the way the third-seeded Jaguars (23-3) wanted, GV ended up with more positive numbers than the No. 14 Rams (15-9), and that translated into a 66-57 victory.
With the win, GV earned its place among the top eight teams in the district and qualified for the state tournament. Garnet Valley will host Upper Dublin at 7 p.m. Saturday in a district quarterfinal contest while Spring-Ford drops into the playback round as it attempts to earn a chance to compete in states.
“A four-point play at the start, some missed layups and we’re down 7-0 before we knew it,” Jaguars head coach Joe Woods said. “And that’s a good team we were playing. We kept our composure, and our senior leadership and our foul shooting (18-for-20) helped pull us through.”
As has been the case in their Central League championship season as well as their success in the playoffs, GV’s seniors got plenty of help from the team’s talented underclassmen in Wednesday’s contest.
Senior Maddie Ireland filled up the stat sheet with 21 points, nine steals and four assists. She made her first seven foul shots before missing one in the fourth period.
Even though Sam Tomasetti, the other senior starter, didn’t make a shot, her coach wasn’t complaining.
“She really had a big game,” Woods said of Tomasetti, who pulled down 12 missed shots, dished off three assists, blocked three Spring-Ford field goal attempts and added a pair of steals.
Freshman Emily McAteer made her second playoff game one to remember with 20 points, including seven from the foul line in seven attempts, as well as six rebounds, three steals and one assist. McAteer was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in scoring eight points in the fourth period.
“She was big in critical points of the game,” Woods said.
McAteer recalled a practice drill that has helped make her a better foul shooter.
“(Woods) makes us run, then shoot a foul, and then run some more if we miss,” she said. “We really started slow tonight, but when we started making good passes things got better.
Our goal was to go far in districts, and we have the chance to do that. And we wanted to make states, and we did that today.”
Ireland said that Spring-Ford’s fast start, which included eight of junior Sydney Wagner’s 18 points — she also had five rebounds and five steals — might have been a blessing in disguise.
“It got us going,” said Ireland, who scored 10 of her 14 first-half points in the second period. “We went in at halftime and I didn’t realize we were up 15 (37-22) until somebody told me. Once we got going, everyone was doing something to help us.”
The Jaguars took a 17-point lead into the fourth period before Spring-Ford went on an 11-2 run to get close. A block by Tomasetti on a shot which would have trimmed the GV lead to eight points resulted in a pair of McAteer free throws at the other end of the floor. Seconds later, sophomore Nicole Barnes (20 points) dropped in a layup and the home team’s advantage was 12 points with less than three minutes to play.