Spring-Ford returns to PAC summit, holds off Perkiomen Valley 54-45

BOYERTOWN >> Late in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference girls basketball championship, junior Olivia Olsen got tangled up in the air on a fastbreak and crashed to the floor where she landed on her head with a thud.

With the Spring-Ford team huddled on the sideline while Olsen was being tended to under the basket, freshman sister Lucy Olsen was hardly in tune with the conversation.

Constantly turning to check on her injured older sister in those moments, Lucy Olsen found herself some added motivation.

“I started to play angry after that happened,” said Olsen.

No one messes with big sis. Not on her watch.

The standout point guard Olsen sparked a key eight-point run that proved most crucial during the Rams’ 54-45 win over Perkiomen Valley in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Championship at Boyertown. The title stands as Spring-Ford’s first since the Rams won it three times in a row from 2012-2014.

The Spring-Ford girls basketball celebrates after defeating Perkiomen Valley to win the PAC championship Wednesday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“It’s amazing,” Olsen said of the win. “I don’t know that it’s hit me yet that we won, but we definitely deserve this. We gave everything we had, all four quarters.”

The late stages of that second quarter in particular proved paramount.

With Spring-Ford (22-2 overall) trailing 18-14 with just under two minutes to go in the half, Olsen and the Rams made a key push in the final minute. Moments after her sister went down, Olsen knocked down a pair of free throws then hit a big-time 3-pointer from the left elbow to give the Rams a 19-14 lead. Just for good measure, Olsen then assisted junior guard Cassie Marte for a 3-pointer from the right corner with 3.8 seconds to go before the half to give Spring-Ford a 22-18 advantage headed into the break.

Spring-Ford’s Sarah Cooper (34) drives and scores against Perkiomen Valley’s Alex Blomstrom during the PAC final Wednesday at Boyertown. (M John McConney – For Digital First Media)

“We moved the ball well on offense and that opened up a lot of space,” said Marte. “I feel like I’m always ready to shoot it when I play with Lucy. We don’t really practice it that much, it just works out when we’re out on the floor.”

From there, Spring-Ford got on a roll. The Rams came out in the second half steaming, putting together a 10-2 run over the next four minutes including five points during that stretch from senior forward Sarah Cooper.

For the night, Olsen scored 13 points and had five assists while Marte scored 10, the pair each connecting on three 3-pointers. Cooper and classmate Rachel Christman each finished up with nine points.

On a night that featured dull scissors during the net-cutting ceremony, it was Spring-Ford’s sharpness on defense that proved the biggest difference down the stretch.

Perkiomen Valley’s Taylor Hamm (45) goes strong to the hoop as Spring-Ford’s Cassie Marte defends during the PAC championship game Wednesday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Matched up against Perkiomen Valley (19-6) senior forwards Megan Jonassen and Taylor Hamm, the Rams used their speed and help-defense to challenge every shot by the Vikings’ lethal pairing.

With fresh legs cycling in at forward throughout the game — including Cooper, juniors Abby Goodrich and Olivia Olsen as well sophomore Alyssa Yuan — the Rams had plenty to throw at Perk Valley’s bigs.

“Our energy on defense was great,” said Olsen. “We kept them from getting easy looks all game.”

Still, the pair got theirs under the basket. Jonassen finished with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds while Hamm scored 14 with nine boards.

Spring-Ford’s Rachel Christman (20) drives for a layup as Perkiomen Valley’s Kelly Owens chases Wednesday at Boyertown. (M John McConney – For Digital First Media)

With steady free-throw shooting in the final frame, Perk Valley clawed its way back into contention. The Vikings used a 13-5 run through most of the fourth quarter to bring it to 46-42 with just over a minute to go.

From there, though, Cooper added a bucket then followed with a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession before Christman iced it at the line for good.

“Once a team like that gets up, you’ve really got to give everything you have to try and get back,” said Perk Valley head coach John Strawoet. “I’m proud of my kids because we didn’t quit.

“We lost to one of the best teams in the state of Pennsylvania. So we’ve got to keep our heads up, be proud of the performance that we had and be ready to move on.”

The Spring-Ford girls basketball celebrates after defeating Perkiomen Valley to win the PAC championship Wednesday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Following a first-round bye in the District 1-6A playoffs, No. 7-seeded Perk Valley will open play against the winner between Neshaminy and Cheltenham next Wednesday. Seeded at No. 3, Spring-Ford will host the winner of Central Bucks West and Boyertown on Wednesday.

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