Spring-Ford sprints past Upper Merion

UPPER MERION >> The Spring-Ford defense did not allow a single point against Upper Merion until there were just 16.5 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Rams intensity remained high for the entire first half — allowing just three points and no field goals — and carried the team to a 57-24 win Tuesday night at Upper Merion Area High School.

“We felt really good about what we accomplished in the first half,” Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel said. “It was a whole team effort. Everybody from the starters to the bench played and contributed in a solid way.

“We just came with a different energy level tonight and that was a good thing … We really executed defensively in the first half. I’m really proud of that.”

Senior Sydney Wagner scored seven of her team-high 14 points in the first quarter to help SF lead 19-1 after eight minutes, but it was the defense that stole the show.

Upper Merion could barely get a shot off in the first quarter. The Lady Vikings turned the ball over 11 times and scored their only point on a free throw.

“We were doing a couple good things we’ve been working on,” McDaniel said. “Our proximity on the ball-handler. We did a better job tonight jumping to the ball to show ourselves, to take away drives to the basket. I really thought we did a good job of that tonight to keep people out of the middle of the lane. That’s really what we were looking to accomplish and we did a good job of that.”

“We’re a young team,” Upper Merion coach Leah Shumoski said. “They’re still very offensively tentative on who needs to do what.

“It’s still the same stuff we’ve struggled with and the same demons we’ve struggled with. Spring-Ford is a great program. They know what they run and they’ve run it since they were in the fourth grade. If you have any weaknesses, everything is going to be magnified. My kids have seen that. Upper Merion’s not used to that.”

It was more of the same in the second quarter. Upper Merion didn’t score until there was 2:53 left and its only points came on two free throws.

Eleven different Rams scored in the game. Behind Wagner’s 14 points, Maddie Haney added eight and Juliana Alessandroni, Dez Engle and Cassie Marte each scored six.

“We played unselfish where we gave up a shot to get a better shot,” McDaniel said. “We moved it real quick. We kept looking for the open man.”

The Vikings showed signs of life in the second half.

Jordan Wilson scored the team’s first field goal on their opening possession and she went on to score all of her game-high 17 points after halftime.

“The second half we did what we wanted to do,” Shumoski said. “We caused them havoc, they’re calling timeouts and my kids didn’t quit. They played through and did what we need to do instead of worrying about what the other team does. I thought we showed some real grit down to the end — I was happy with that.”

With the loss, Upper Merion fell to 8-5 overall this season but remains in first place in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division with a 4-1 league record.

“Finally we’re buying into the team concept,” Shumoski said. “We only won six games last year. We didn’t get any new pieces — we just graduated our leading rebounder and our leading scorer. For them to come out this year and start buying in and doing what they need to do and learning how to play both ends of the floor — I think that’s really been the difference.”

Spring-Ford improved to 9-3 overall and is tied for third place in the PAC Liberty Division with a 3-2 league mark.

“Our goal from day one is to get better each day,” McDaniel said. “We understand the little things make a big difference whether it’s on offense or defense. Whether we’re playing within our division or a cross-over … we have to continue to get better. Every game matters for us, every practice matters for us to get better. If we’re not getting better, that’s not good. We keep working to get better.”


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