Hamm powers Perkiomen Valley past Boyertown in PAC playoffs

BOYERTOWN >> On the opening possession Thursday night, Boyertown’s defense was able to frustrate Perkiomen Valley into a tough outside shot.

But Vikings’ senior forward Taylor Hamm secured the offensive rebound and forced a foul.

Moments later, she drained a long three-pointer.

That 30-second opening sequence offered a quick synopsis of the evening’s action, as Hamm’s offense and strong rebounding led Perkiomen Valley past Boyertown, 56-37, in an opening-round Pioneer Athletic Conference playoff matchup dominated by PV’s defensive presence and Hamm’s inside-outside versatility.

Boyertown’s Kylie Webb (13) tries to split the defense of Perkiomen Valley’s Megan Moore (41) and Taylor Hamm (45). (Mjohn McConney – For Digital First Media)

Hamm tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds in the winning effort for Perk Valley (18-5). She went 3-for-3 from long distance, matching teammate Alex Blomstrom on a night that saw PV hit seven 3s in all.

The win sets up a semifinal rematch with Pope John Paul II, the Frontier Division regular-season champions, slated for Saturday at 6 p.m. at Boyertown. PV topped the Panthers 74-63 on January 9.

“We need to limit our turnovers this time around (against PJP),” said Hamm. “We need to get back in transition, because that tends to be where we give up points.”

That was certainly the case against Boyertown, as PV’s zone defense and size made life difficult for the Bears in the half-court. PV dominated the rebounding battle by a 39-12 margin.

“When we rebound, that’s what sets the tone for us,” Hamm said. “Not only do we take away second-chance opportunities on defense, we create them for ourselves offensively. That’s where we pride ourselves.”

“That’s our game,” simplified Vikings coach John Strawoet. “Taylor and Megan (Jonassen) are two of the best forwards around, and they make us very difficult to stop on the inside.”

A first-round bye for 6A districts is almost assured for Perkiomen Valley (ranked No. 7 at the start of the week; the top eight teams receive byes), leaving the Vikings free to focus on claiming another PAC title.

Perkiomen Valley’s Megan Jonassen (43) scores a putback over Boyertown’s Amber Marburger. (Mjohn McConney – For Digital First Media)

A low-scoring first half was highlighted by Hamm’s 12 points (10 in the first quarter), staking PV to an early 14-4 lead. Boyertown fought back, holding the Vikings to four second-quarter points to cut the halftime margin to six.

The Vikings opened things up in the third quarter behind the outside shooting of Blomstrom and contributions on the inside from Hamm, Jonassen, and Sarah Nijssen. Consecutive Blomstrom 3s helped Perk Valley expand the 18-12 halftime advantage to 39-22 by the end of the third.

“When teams chip down on our two bigs, Alex and (Kelly) Owens can knock down the 3. And she (Hamm) can shoot the 3 as well,” added Strawoet.

“The way we played in the first half — that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to play in the 30s or 40s,” said Boyertown coach Jason Bieber. “John made some great halftime adjustments to get us away from what we wanted to do.”

Boyertown would close within 10 early in the fourth, but would come no closer against the Vikings’ unforgiving zone defense. Kylie Webb paced Boyertown with 14 points.

“PV has a couple excellent post players, and they’ve got a couple of six-footers who come off the bench as well,” said Bieber. “It’s a tough matchup for us. We battled, but they got some rebounds over us.”

The Bears (10-13) await news of their first-round District opponent, with seedings and matchups scheduled to be announced Sunday. Currently, Boyertown is sitting at No. 19 as 24 6A teams qualify for districts.

For victorious Perk Valley, it’s onto Saturday and PJP, where Strawoet hopes to see a repeat performance.

“Rebounding is gonna be the key the rest of the way,” he said. “PJP’s quick, they can shoot the 3… we’ve gotta hold them to one shot. One and done.”

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