Upper Merion holds off Phoenixville, claims PAC Frontier Division title

UPPER MERION >> Upper Merion knew its chances of locking down a  Pioneer Athletic Conference crown hinged on Thursday night’s game against Phoenixville.

A win, and the Vikings had at least a tie of the Frontier Division title. Lose, and it was still up for grabs with Pottsgrove.

It wasn’t easy, and they had to sweat it out down the stretch, but the Vikings emerged with a 41-35 win, which paired with Pottsgrove’s loss to Pope John Paul II gave Upper Merion the outright Frontier crown.

Jordan Wilson, playing through injury, led the way with 15 points as the Vikings (14-8, 8-2 division) overcame a sluggish start and scrambly finish to prevail.

“We knew, the way Phoenixville packs in their defense it was going to tough for us,” said Vikings head coach Leah Shumoski. “But we were able to make some outside shots and force them to come out and play us.”

Phoenixville (9-12, 5-5) led, 15-12, after one quarter. But foul trouble hurt them from the second quarter on.

“The second quarter killed us,” said Phantoms head coach AJ Thompson. ”We got into some foul trouble, and that really affected  the way we played defense.”

Upper Merion’’s Jessie Michael pulls down a rebound during the Vikings’ game against Phoenixville on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The Vikings led, 26-19 at the break thanks to nine points from Jessie Michael and seven more from Wilson while Dakota Graham had seven points and Peyton Graham had six for the Phantoms.

But six points from Wilson and five from Maddie Harvey helped the home team expand its lead to double digits in the third quarter.

The Phantoms rallied in the fourth quarter, pulling within six points in the final two minutes.

But Upper Merion held on, although by game’s end the players still did not know the Pottsgrove-PJP final.

“I knew we were kind of out of it,” Thompson said, “so we were trying to play spoiler. But Upper Merion played hard , got that lead and we just weren’t able to overcome it.”

And while the Vikings had to hang on down the stretch, they finally had a title in something other than volleyball.

“We don’t do things very common around here,” Shumoski said with a wide smile.

NOTES: Shemonski saved special praise for Kelly Burns, who was assigned to guard the Phantoms Dakota Graham, and did so brilliantly, allowing the Phantoms guard to score only 11 points, and just four after halftime.

Upper Merion 41, Phoenixville 35
Phoenixville 15 4 10 6 — 35
Upper Merion  12 14 11 4 — 41
Phoenixville: Dakota Graham 3 2-4 11; Hannah Sands 3 0-0 6; Amanda Fields 0 0-0 0; Jess Anthony 1 2-4 4; Peyton Graham 6 0-0 12; Jasmine Hamilton 1 0-0 2; Jordan Hrynkow 0 0-0 0; Liberty Allain 0 0-0 0  Totals 14 4-8 35.
Upper Merion: Aaliyah Parson 1 0-0 2; Jordan Wilson 4 7-13 15; Amya Anthony 0 0-2 0; Andrea Davis 0 0-0 0; Yaz Gant 2 0-1 4; Jessie Michael 3 0-1 9; Maddie Harvey 3 0-0 8; Kelly Burns 1 1-2 3; Megan Gebhart 0 0-0 0.. Totals 14  8-19 41.
3-pointers: Dakota Graham 3; Michael 3; Harvey 2.

Top Photo: Upper Merion’s Jordan Wilson steals the ball as Phoenixville’s Peyton Graham defends during their game on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

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