EAST ROCKHILL >> Sometimes, it’s not the start but the finish that matters most.
For three quarters Saturday, Pennridge’s Katie Yoder was limited mostly to the bench with foul trouble forcing her to the role of spectator. Yoder likes watching her teammates compete and succeed, but she much prefers to be on the floor with them and when her number got called again in the fourth quarter, she made it count.
Yoder’s seven fourth quarter points were just the push the Rams needed to finish off a solid 66-49 team win over visiting Pottsgrove.
“I knew going in, the game had started to get close and we needed this win,” Yoder said. “They were a good team and we needed to step it up.”
The result was just what Pennridge (10-6, 4-4 SOL Continental) needed after a loss to Central Bucks West on Friday but also one that further tested the Rams. Guard Corrin Mart went down with an ankle injury three minutes into the game, leaving Pennridge down a second starter with Sophie Cweiber already sidelined.
With Yoder picking up two fouls in the first quarter as well, the Rams had to dig into their bench and did build a lead before the Falcons closed strong for a 15-15 tie after eight minutes. Names and roles may have been swapped given the circumstances, but the Rams have been a team built on balance and collective effort all year, so they leaned on that again.
“We did well playing with the next-man-up mentality,” Rams senior Julia Kreider said. “We have two starters now injured but the younger players are doing their jobs, stepping it up and really doing a great job going into the game.”
Pennridge had five different scorers in the second quarter with a trio of 3-point shots helping push the hosts to a 28-22 halftime lead.
The Rams’ breakout came in the third quarter. Kreider scored six points in the frame, which saw four Pennridge players score multiple buckets, the defense create a handful of turnovers and the game go at the pace the hosts wanted it to.
Evelyn Loughery led Pennridge with 17 points while Kreider posted 16. Pennridge scored 20 points in the third quarter, pushing its lead to double figures and taking a 48-35 edge into the final frame.
“We really had some players step up today,” Rams coach Mike Elton said. “Katie Yoder played some significant minutes and Ryan Hodder, a sophomore, she gave us a lot. Jill (Coughlin) and Kiersten (Moyer) both had some big minutes and free throws saved our butts.”
A putback by Krieder put the Rams up 45-27 in the third but Pottsgrove (15-5, 11-3 PAC/9-0 PAC Frontier) closed the quarter well and made a charge in the fourth.
Pottsgrove used an 8-0 run early in the fourth to chop the Pennridge lead down to 51-44 with 4:30 to play, right around the time Yoder was subbed back into the game. Even with four fouls next to her name in the book at the time, the freshman wasn’t hesitant.
“I had to step off a little because I can get a little too close playing defense, so I had to make sure I wasn’t fouling,” Yoder said. “We needed the same energy as (Friday) because we came out with a lot of energy but didn’t keep it and boxing out, we got killed on it so we wanted to do better there and limit our fouling.”
After not scoring all game, Yoder stepped to the foul line with 4:00 on the clock and knocked down two free throws, part of a 10-of-12 team effort at the stripe in the final stanza.
Falcons sniper Sierra Potts, who hit her 100th career 3-pointer in the third quarter, knocked down another triple with 3:35 left, cutting the host lead to 54-47. Pottsgrove’s switch to a zone defense had thrown a wrench at the Rams and slowed the pace of the game.
Yoder had the answers, scoring a bucket with 3:08 left, splitting a pair of free throws the next trip down and dishing an assist to Ashley Gordon off an inbound play with 2:11 remaining for a 60-47 advantage.
“It was amazing,” Kreider said. “Hopefully the other freshmen will learn from it and take after her.”
“We just needed to reset and take our time,” Yoder said. “This week at practice we just worked on how we were going to play and I think that really helped us.”
Yoder, Loughery and Gordon, who scored 12 points, combined to go 6-of-6 at the line in the final 90 seconds to secure the win.
Pennridge ended Saturday in position to host a first round District 1 playoff game, but with a couple injuries to deal with and some important games coming out, they still have some work to do.
“We’re not out of this yet,” Kreider said. “I think everyone will look at us as having our starters out, but I think that just makes us underrated and we’ll surprise some people.”
PENNRIDGE 66, POTTSGROVE 49
PENNRIDGE 15 13 20 18 – 66
POTTSGROVE 15 6 13 14 – 49
Pennridge: Katie Yoder 1 5-6 7, Julia Kreider7 1-2 16, Evelyn Loughery 7 2-2 17, Ryan Hodder 3 0-0 7, Ashley Gordon 5 2-2 12, Kiertsen Moyer 2 0-0 4, Jillian Coughlin 1 0-0 3. Totals: 26 10-12 66.
Pottsgrove: Rachel Ludwig 5 1-2 12, Summer Walker 2 0-0 5, Sierra Potts 2 0-0 8, Riley Simon 2 4-7 8, Sydney Mowery 5 2-2 12, Jaimi Makins 1 2-2 4, Justine Fretz 0 0-2 0. Totals: 18 9-15 49.
3-pointers: Pe – Krieder, Loughery, Coughlin, Holder; Po – Potts 2, Ludwig, Walker.
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