No. 1 Perkiomen Valley avoids upset bid of Garnet Valley

GRATERFORD >> Season killers.

That’s what Garnet Valley has become known for to Perkiomen Valley programs as district runs in both football and girls volleyball ended at the hands of their Central League foe.

Tuesday night, Perkiomen Valley’s Justin Jaworski and Sean Owens made sure the Jaguars’ penchant for derailing seasons didn’t continue.

Jaworski went off for a game high 34 points while Owens and Andrew Light also finished in double figures as No. 1 Perkiomen Valley escaped a stiff test from the No. 16 Jaguars en route to a 68-60 overtime victory in the District 1 Class 6A second round.

The win advances the Vikings into the PIAA playoffs for the first time in school history. PV will face No. 8 Cheltenham, a 66-52 winner over Spring-Ford, in the quarterfinals Friday night.

Perkiomen Valley’s Dante Graves pulls down a rebound during the first half. (Sam Stewart- Digital FIrst Media)

“Last year our goal was to make it to states but we felt short of it,” Jaworski said. “All offseason we wanted to get back to our league championship and then continue on our path to becoming the first PV team in history to make it to states. We got it done tonight.”

“It feels great to be the first team in history to advance to the state tournament,” Owens added. “To be the first team to go into states is a real accomplishment. Hopefully we can keep competing well. These final eight teams are all good. They are all tough and they’ll present big challenges.”

Accomplishing it against a foe that has ousted Perkiomen Valley in districts in other sports? Well, that’s an added bonus.

“They knocked us out in football. Their girls volleyball team knocked our team out. We didn’t want to let them knock us out again,” Jaworski said. “We didn’t want them to derail our season.”

Perkiomen Valley’s Sean Owens goes up for a layup during the second half of the Vikings’ 68-60 victory in the District 1 Class 6A second round Tuesday. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Jaworski put on a show for the Vikings throughout, but his effort shone brightest during his 14-point performance in the fourth quarter. The senior guard led the Vikings back from a 41-34 deficit in the final eight minutes due to his deft touch from beyond the arc. His two 3-pointers and drives to the basket overwhelmed a Garnet Valley squad that had been in control the majority of the night. Jaworski’s 30-point effort is his second in three games (he scored 31 in team’s win over Norristown in Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinals).

Owens added 13 points with Light adding 11. Hogan Millheim, Tyler Strechay and Light each had five rebounds for a team that was dominated on the glass in the early going.

“We couldn’t rebound the ball and that’s something we’re going to work on in practice because Cheltenham is a big and athletic team,” Jaworski said. “The most important thing for us going forward is to rebound and play good defense.”

Brandon Starr finished with a team-best 24 points and 10 rebounds for Garnet Valley with junior Austin Laughlin adding 17 points for a Jaguars squad that also hoped for their first entrance into the PIAA playoffs. Dominating the glass, the Jaguars built an 11-3 lead off second chance points and then went toe-to-toe with the No. 1 seed into overtime. Sophomore big man Cade Brennan added six points and seven rebounds for a Jags team that heads into the playback round against Spring-Ford Friday night at Ram Gym at 7 p.m.

“We showed that we belonged in the game,” Garnet Valley head coach Michael Brown said. “The experience you can’t duplicate. Win or lose it’s a great experience. I just asked them to play hard and they did. I was completely satisfied.”

Garnet Valley’s Austin Laughlin tries to drive past Perkiomen Valley’s Justin Jaworski during the first half. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

In the midst of Jaworski’s 14-point fourth quarter that lifted the Vikings back from a 41-34 deficit to start the frame, Starr and Laughlin teamed up for their biggest quarter. The duo combined for 19 of the team’s 21 total points in the final eight minutes and kept the Jaguars within two possessions until the late stages. Trailing 60-57 with 20 seconds remaining, Starr launched his biggest shot of the night, converting a deep 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game at 60 and send it into overtime.

From there, however, is where PV proved too much. Jaworski shot 4-for-4 from the free throw line to start as the Jaguars sputtered from the field, their 0-for-8 effort from the field allowing PV to build an insurmountable lead.

Even in the loss, though, Laughlin sees positives entering Friday night.

“Playing the No. 1 seed and competing well with them will definitely give us some momentum,” Laughlin said. “We got Spring-Ford going next. I know we have the support from our community and our fans, hopefully we can keep it up for them. We have to win two more to get to states.”

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