Pennsbury gets revenge on Methacton in District 1-6A quarters

FAIRLESS HILLS >> Methacton defeated Pennsbury in the final district playback game last season to clinch a spot in the PIAA tournament for the Warriors and end the Falcons’ season.

Almost a year to the date, the two teams met again Saturday. This time both squads had a state playoff spot clinched. The prize for the winner would be a trip to the District 1 Class 6A semifinals.

In a rugged battle that featured 51 total fouls, fourth-seeded Pennsbury outlasted fifth-seeded Methacton, 43-34, to book the program’s first trip to the district semifinals since 1994.

Junior Bella Arcuri led the way with 19 points, and sophomore Ava Sciolla added 13 for Pennsbury to prevent Methacton and sophomore Nicole Timko, who finished with 13 points, from their first district semifinal trip in 12 years.

“Of course we remember that, they ended our season,” Arcuri said. “It’s kind of just the whole revenge thing. We wanted to win so badly.”

Pennsbury’s Mia Spinelli, left, is helped up by teammates, from left, Bella Arcuri, Mary Miller and Abi Nassivera after she takes a charge against Methacton in Saturday’s District 1-6A quarterfinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Pennsbury will face either top-seeded Plymouth Whitemarsh or eighth-seeded Upper Dublin in Wednesday’s semifinal at Wissahickon.

Methacton, which was playing in its first district quarterfinal since 2008, will have two games for state playoff seeding, starting with a matchup with the PW-Upper Dublin loser on Wednesday.

“That’s what we talked about with the girls. The season’s not over,” Methacton coach Craig Kaminski said. “We’ll battle to be the No. 5 seed. That’s our goals is to be the fifth best team in the district. And then when we get to the state tournament, it’s a whole new tournament and it’s the teams who are playing well. Survive and advance.”


TURNING POINT >> A late third-quarter surge sparked by the Falcons’ 1-2 punch of Arcuri and Sciolla helped Pennsbury take a 27-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

First, Sciolla grabbed an offensive rebound and found a cutting Arcuri for an and-one. The next time down, Emily Friel grabbed an offensive board and kicked it out to Sciolla for a three at the top of the key.

“Me and Ava we have a good connection,” Arcuri said. “We always find each other. We just know. She looks at me, and I know I’m backcutting and she hits me. Same thing with her. I find a gap, and I hit her.”


After closing the third quarter strong, the Falcons played in front the rest of the way, never giving up the lead.

Methacton pulled within three after Timko found Caroline Pellicano underneath to make the score 27-24 with 6:35 left, but the Falcons responded with another 6-0 run.

Sciolla knocked down a pair of free throws, Arcuri drilled a three, and a free throw from Mary Miller put the Falcons in front 33-24 with 3:18 remaining in the game.

“Bella was aggressive looking to score,” Pennsbury coach Frank Sciolla said. “The thing about Ava is she doesn’t need a lot of room. When she was able to find some, she made the play. Ava’s biggest piece today was how many passes she made finding people.”

Methacton’s Caroline Pellicano, left, looks toward the basket as Pennsbury’s Mia Spinelli falls to the ground in Saturday’s District 1-6A quarterfinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Free Throw Woes >> Methacton’s first bucket didn’t come until two minutes into the second quarter, but the Warriors had a chance to put some distance between themselves and the Falcons in the first quarter, when they went to the line 11 times. Instead they went just 3-for-11 in the first quarter and trailed, 4-3.

The Warriors’ poor free-throwing shooting trend continued throughout the game as Methacton finished 9-for-28 at the stripe. The Warriors had multiple chances to cut the Pennsbury lead to one-possession in the fourth, but their struggles at the line continued to hurt them, missing their first three attempts from the stripe in the final period.

“We had 19 missed fouls shots,” Kaminski said. “I think that’s the story of the game. You have to go the foul line, and you gotta convert 2-of-2 every time or at least one to keep yourself ahead or chip away at the lead.”


Pennsbury finished 20-for-33 at the free throw line in the game. While Arcuri struggled at the stripe in the fourth (4-for-10), the rest of her team was 9-for-12 from the line in the quarter to help seal the win.

Abi Nassivera, who was perfect 4-for-4 from the line in the second half, put Pennsbury up 38-29 with 1:29 play when she knocked down a pair of free throws.

“The game kind of started at the line and ended at the foul line,” Arcuri said. “We just had to finish.”

Flashback >> Methacton defeated Pennsbury, 26-17, in the final district playback game last season to earn a trip to states. Frank Sciolla has kept the box score from that “rock fight” as the background image on his phone for the past 12 months.

Saturday’s game got off to a similar sluggish start with the game’s first field goals not coming until Pennsbury scored two buckets in the final 1:14 of the first quarter to go up 4-3 after one. Methacton’s first field goal came two minutes into the second quarter when junior Allie Hazlett converted an and-one.


The Warriors added three more buckets from Timko (five points) and Sydney Tornetta (two points) to erase a 13-6 deficit and tie the game 13-13 at halftime.

“I was proud of my team in the first half,” Kaminski said. “We were struggling scoring, but the defense was excellent. It kept us in the game. Then we had the mini-run to get back to 13-13 at halftime, but then we kind of went the opposite way in the second half. We struggled more on offense and broke down on defense…But they never gave up. They played hard.”

Methacton’s Sydney Hargrove, left, drives toward the basket as Pennsbury’s Mia Spinelli defends in Saturday’s District 1-6A quarterfinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Program Changer >>The Falcons’ first-round district playoff win was last year marked the program’s first home playoff game and first playoff win in 12 years. They’ve built on that for a historic run to the semifinals this season for the first time in 26 seasons.

“To see the way the program’s changed, we’re filling out both side of the bleachers here for the girls games,” Arcuri said. “When I was a freshman, we couldn’t even pack one side of the stands. Now, we have the bleachers pulled out for games. We have the whole community behind us. It’s awesome to see.”

Pennsbury 43

Methacton 34

PENNSBURY: Sciolla 3 6-8 13, Nassivera 1 4-6 6, Haws 0 0-0 0, Arcuri 6 5-13 19, Dignan 0 0-0 0, Friel 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 3-4 3, Spinelli 0 0-0 0, Pompili 0 2-2 2, Rooney 0 0-0 0, Dash 0 0-0 0, Totals 10 20-33 43.

METHACTON: Kropp 3 1-2 7, Tornetta 1 1-6 3, Kaufman 0 0-0 0, Pellicano 1 2-4 4, Hargrove 1 0-0 2, Timko 4 2-9 13, Bockrath 0 0-2 0, Smith 0 2-4 2, Hazlett 1 1-1 3, Totals 11 9-28 34.

Methacton 3 10 7 14-34
Pennsbury 4 9 14 16-43

3-point goals: Sciolla, Arcuri 2, Timko 3.

Methacton’s Nicole Timko, right, drives on Pennsbury’s Mary Miller in Saturday’s District 1-6A quarterfinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)
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