Unified Spring-Ford proves too much for Methacton in PAC semifinal

BOYERTOWN >> Cassie Marte and Lucy Olsen were even in lock-step during postgame.

“We came out slow but we picked it up with a lot of energy, but then we got comfortable,” freshman Olsen said. “At halftime we knew we had to ..

“Come out strong,” Olsen and junior Marte said in perfect unison.

That’s precisely what the Rams did with a 3-and-D approach that saw Marte and Olsen provide the offensive spark and Spring-Ford secured a 58-39 victory over Methacton in the Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinals Saturday night at Boyertown.

Spring-Ford’s Rachel Christman scorees from close range against Methacton during a PAC semifinal Saturday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Olsen led the way with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting (3-for-7 from 3-point range) and kicked the Rams into overdrive in a 21-point third quarter that saw the Rams go from up 25-21 at halftime to a 46-34 lead through three.

Marte warmed the nets with an eight-point first quarter and scored 10 with seven rebounds for the game. Junior guard Rachel Christman added 11.

The Rams faltered in the semifinals last season to eventual PAC and PIAA Class 6A champion Boyertown. At 20-2, with their losses to only Perkiomen Valley and defending PIAA finalist North Allegheny, Spring-Ford is humming like a team ready for a long postseason.

Methacton’s Abby Penjuke battles for a rebound with Spring-Ford’s Emily Tiffan during their PAC semifinal Saturday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“We’re all really on the same page as a team and know what we want to accomplish and we’re all working hard together,” Marte said.

The No. 1 seed Rams meet Perkiomen Valley, a 64-54 winner over Pope John Paul II, in the PAC title game next Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Balanced Methacton (13-11) got 10 points apiece from senior guard Nicole Cooper and senior forward Olivia Pennypacker while Abby Penjuke added eight.

“They have more weapons than us,” Methacton coach Craig Kaminski said. “We lost to a good basketball team. Our girls gave it everything they’ve got. We don’t go as deep as Spring-Ford.

At the end of the day they made the shots and just played a better game than us.”

Spring-Ford’s Cassie Marte (40) shoots for a 3-pointer against Methacton during the first half of a PAC semifinal Saturday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Rundown >> Despite struggling with Spring-Ford’s press early, Methacton got more comfortable in the second quarter and had a 7-0 run keyed by Penjuke to get within 17-16 with 5:27 in the second quarter.

Spring-Ford’s Emily Tiffan hit a crucial 3-pointer — one of eight Rams’ 3s — with 1:26 to half for a 25-21 that would remain into the break.

Spring-Ford’s Cassie Marte (40) looks to pass as Methacton’s Olivia Pennypacker defends during the first half of their PAC semifinal Saturday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The Rams swarmed in the third quarter with a 10-1 run to build a 37-22 lead then secured back-to-back backcourt steals from Christman and Abby Goodrich.

Methacton would never get closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

3 and D >> Spring-Ford made the most of a 3-point shooting and defensive approach that saw it make eight 3s (8-for-22), nearly half of their 17 total field goals. The Rams forced 15 turnovers and out-rebounded Methacton 30-16.

“Defense got the offense going so we didn’t have to worry about if the shots are falling,” Olsen said.

Right Direction >> While Methacton was unable to return to the PAC final, the Warriors have come on strong after sitting at 5-8 during the regular season.

“We thought it would gel quicker and we were 5-8 at one point but here we are in the second round of (the PAC playoffs) and we’re going to go to districts,” Kaminski said. “When they all get after it we have a nice, solid core. They can all score and defend, we just have to have it clicking.”

Spring-Ford’s Olivia Olsen (33) blocks the shot of Methacton’s Sydney Tornetta during the first half of their PAC semifinal Saturday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Methacton entered the day No. 17 in the District 1 Class 6A power rankings.

On Point >> Methacton coach Kaminski singled out senior guard Cooper’s contributions as part of the Warriors’ turnaround.

“We’re using a point guard (Cooper) who isn’t a true point guard but is doing an unbelievable job for us,” Kaminski said. “She was a great role player for us who did all the dirty work and we turned her into a point guard and she’s doing an unbelievable job.”

Notes >> Spring-Ford won both regular season meetings, 50-38 on Jan. 23 and 62-41 on Dec. 19, 2017. … Spring-Ford last won the PAC championship in 2014, its third straight league crown.

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