GRATERFORD >> They’ll forever be known as the first Perkiomen Valley girls basketball team to reach the PIAA tournament.
They have their guards to thank for that.
KT Armstrong and Hanan Richmond were electric, both figuring in double figures as Perkiomen Valley overcame Abington’s bigs with proficient guard play en route to a 52-39 victory in the District 1-AAAA second round Wednesday night.
The win propels the Vikings to their first-ever PIAA Class AAAA tournament berth and into the district quarterfinals where a date with Conestoga (51-43 victors over defending district champs and state finalist Central Bucks West) looms. Date and time of the game is yet to be announced.
“It feels awesome,” Armstrong said. “It definitely gives us a lot of confidence knowing that we have a good team and there are no limits for us. We just have to keep going.”
“We’ve worked hard in practice every day,” Richmond, a first-year PV student after transferring from Chicago, said. “All of that is paying off. I knew from the first time I came here that the goals were to beat Boyertown and make it to states. I’ve never been to states in my high school career so it’s great to get it done here.”
Armstrong finished with a game-high 23 points in the win. Her play, along with the scintillating performance from Richmond, was the difference as Abington’s 6-2 forwards Liz O’Leary and Leah Simmons were able to contain PV’s Megan Jonassen and Taylor Hamm much of the night. Whatever problems had been affecting her shot the last week of the season eroded as the St. Joseph’s commit took to her signature pull-up jumper to carve up Abington’s defense, going 5-for-7 from the field in the second half as the Vikings turned an eight-point halftime lead into a 19-point advantage early in the fourth.
“It’s nice,” Armstrong said of her shooting. “It feels like it’s finally coming together. Before it felt like I would have one or two good quarters of shooting but this game I felt like I had four quarters of solid play and that’s what I wanted to get.”
Richmond was the catalyst to a Vikings’ onslaught, scoring nine of her 11 points in the first quarter as PV led from start to finish. Richmond registered a double-double, pulling down 11 rebounds.
She was elated when finding out the news.
“I’m so happy,” she said. “I knew that their bigs were going to be on our bigs really heavy, which they were. Our guards, KT, Tori (Walter) and myself, had to make sure we stepped up and let them know that we don’t always count on our bigs to win.”
The duo did that and sent Abington (18-8 overall), the reigning district runner-up, into the 9-10 playback round against CB West Saturday. Sammy Lochner finished with a team-high 12 points in the loss with O’Leary and Sam Brusha each contributing nine. However, a 5-for-28 effort from the field in the second and third quarter spelled imminent doom, one the No. 18 seed couldn’t recover.
“That’s the best team in the district. There’s no doubt in my mind that they are going to win districts, if they play like they did tonight,” Abington head coach Dan Marsh said. “We’ve played a lot of good basketball teams … and this team is as good as any of those teams we’ve played, at least the way they played tonight. I thought we could compete with them, but we didn’t. They showed why they’re 23-2. They were good tonight. They were better than us and they deserve to move on.”
Abington had kept it close in the first quarter as the 3-point shooting from Lochner kept the Ghosts within three (15-12) after one. However, paced by Armstrong’s seven points in the second and nine in the third, the Vikings took control, using a 11-0 run midway through the third to put the game well out of reach.
“We have to regroup,” Marsh said. “There are three pretty good teams in this district and I thought we were in that echelon. I still think we can beat anybody on any given night. They dictated everything, we didn’t dictate anything and we’re not used to that.”
NOTES >> Jonassen finished two points shy of a double-double, tallying eight points while hauling down 12 rebounds. … Ashley Bangert finished with eight points in the win. … Abington’s O’Leary finished with 13 rebounds in the loss. … The loss marked only the third time that Abington has been defeated by a Pennsylvania team this season.