WEST NORRITON >> With the game on the line Tuesday night, Spring-Ford turned to senior forward Tre Medearis.
Medearis scored the game-winning basket with 20.5 seconds left and knocked a Norristown pass away as time expired to help the Rams to a 53-52 Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division win at Norristown Area High School.
“(Spring-Ford coach Chris Talley) was talking about previous games and how I really showed up big,” Medearis said of his coach’s halftime message when the senior was scoreless. “He told me if we want to win this game I have to be there and that’s what I did. I made sure I came out strong. I was getting a face-guard in the first half. I made sure they couldn’t guard me.”
Trailing Norristown by one point with less than 30 seconds remaining, Talley drew up a play for Medearis. The three-year varsity player drove from the three-point line to the basket and converted a layup to give his side a one-point lead with 20.5 seconds left.
“I saw somebody that was a little bit too slow (on defense),” Medearis said. “I took him for his weakness, got the bucket.”
On the ensuing possession, Medearis knocked away a pass and watched the ball roll down the court as the Rams celebrated a come-from-behind win.
“I expected them to shoot it so I tried to contest them,” Medearis said. “They passed the ball and my hand was in the way.”
All 12 of Medearis’ points came in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter.
“We challenged him at halftime,” Talley said. “Tre’s a great kid, he’s a hardworker, he’s as coachable as anyone. We challenged him at halftime and said you have to impact this game some way or the other. He had a lot of zeros at half. He came out, stepped up to the challenge and when we needed a play he was involved.”
Spring-Ford trailed by nine points, 50-41, in the fourth quarter before closing the game on a 12-2 run.
It’s a position the Rams found themselves in their last time on the floor. They battled back from a big deficit against Central Bucks West last Friday, but came up short in a 56-53 defeat.
“These guys are relentless,” Talley said, crediting his team for their effort against a well-coach Norristown squad. “We’ve gotten down in a couple games so far this year and we’ve been able to claw our way back in. The effort is there, it’s just we have to tighten up the little things. These guys want to win and they showed it tonight.”
“The game before (CB West) we were down 19 and we really showed that we had some heart in us,” Medearis said. “We made sure we came back this time.”
Norristown’s team is a lot different than last year’s squad that reached the PIAA-6A state playoffs. Of the 11 players who stepped on the floor Tuesday night, only one is a senior.
The underclassmen struggled down the stretch in their first game of the season.
After Nizer Kinney made a basket to give the Eagles a 52-49 lead, Norristown’s following four possessions ended in two missed shots and two turnovers to close out the game.
“It’s lacking experience,” Eagles coach Binky Johnson said. “I anticipated that we were going to have those types of ups and downs early in the season when we had no returning starters. That’s gametime experience on the varsity level. It’s going to build our character.
“There are going to be ups and downs when you’re inexperienced. These are downs because you gave one away to a very well-coached Spring-Ford team, and it’s a learning experience.”
Willie Anderson led the team in scoring with 16 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter, and Kinney added 14.
Kovaleski’s hot start
Spring-Ford senior Patrick Kovaleski got off to a fast start against Norristown. He scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the first quarter.
“(Medearis and Kovaleski) are both seniors,” Talley said. “They’re battle-tested. They’ve been varsity players since they were sophomores. They’re transitioning to being options 1 and 2, or 1 and 1A. I think they’re trying to figure that out right now because they’ve been more of a background role their underclassmen years. Now it’s their time. I’m pleased with their effort.”
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