Neshaminy uses speed, shooting to sink Perkiomen Valley

GRATERFORD >> There’s no substitute for experience, but when none is available, quickness and tenacity do just fine.

The latter two qualities combined for the perfect recipe for Neshaminy’s 57-47 victory over Perkiomen Valley Wednesday night, qualifying the Redskins (16-5) for the PIAA Class 6A tournament.

Neshaminy’s lightning-quick backcourt of sophomore Kristin Curley and junior Brooke Mullin, complemented by the sharp-shooting Allison Harvey, was simply too much for the Vikings (19-7), who were led by senior Megan Jonassen’s 24 points.

Harvey led the ’Skins with 15 points on the night, but Curley was right behind her with 14 while Mullin contributed 11 in a team-wide effort that saw Neshaminy take a 23-point advantage after three quarters.

“We watched film, we’ve seen how they play — it’s a 32-minute game, and we knew we had to play hard the whole time,” said Curley. “Going in, we knew we had to speed up the pace, and I thought we did that very well.”

The victory advances Neshaminy to Saturday’s quarterfinal round at No. 2 Central Bucks South, which topped Great Valley in another second-round contest. The victory also assured Neshaminy a spot in the 6A state tournament — fulfilling one of the squad’s goals set at the beginning of the season.

“Two years ago, (Neshaminy) went on a long run in states,” said Curley, who was still in middle school at the time. “My class, we hear the seniors talk about it a lot, but we’ve never experienced it for ourselves.”

Curley and her backcourt mates saw to it early that they’d get their chance. The ’Skins caught fire early, with Allison Harvey’s first of three first-half 3-pointers and an old-fashioned 3-point play from Mullin, giving Neshaminy a 6-0 lead before PV could even set up its offense. From there, the first half followed a theme of the host Vikings being frustrated by the ​perimeter speed and defensive ​pressure of Neshaminy. Curley got loose​ on backdoor cuts​ for a pair of layups to force PV into an early timeout before Harvey’s second 3-pointer spearheaded a 9-3 run to end the quarter.

PV’s offensive struggles continued into the second quarter, with Neshaminy constantly doubling the ball and forcing forward Taylor Hamm — typically a deadly matchup for opponents in the post — into a facilitator’s role on the perimeter. PV mustered only three points in the second quarter, with the Redskins taking a 30-13 advantage into the break.

“Megan and Taylor are excellent players, and we prepared for that,” said Neshaminy coach Joe Lally.​ “We know we’re not going to stop ​[Jonassen and Hamm], but if we’re able to stop players like (Alex) Blomstrom and the rest of their perimeter players, we give ourselves the best chance.”

While Perk Valley’s offense got going in the third quarter, they were still unable to contain Neshaminy, which pressured after each made basket, turning two points into four or five at a time. At one point, the ’Skins reeled off seven straight without the Vikings able to cross half​ ​court. Curley’s full-court drive to beat the third-quarter buzzer gave Neshaminy its largest lead at 50-27.

The Vikings battled back behind Jonassen and Hamm (11 points) in the fourth, getting as close as 55-47, but simply ran out of time.

Perk Valley’s season will continue in the playbacks, where the eight second-round losers will ​do battle for the ninth-, 10th- and 11th-place spots out of District in the 6A ​state​ tournament. PV’s first playback game will be at home vs. Great Valley Saturday.

“I didn’t feel like I had us ready to play at the start — that’s on me,” said PV coach John Strawoet. “We knew they’d pressure us, play man-to-man… we just didn’t execute.

“We’ll need to be much better on Saturday.”

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