TOWAMENCIN >> Division play had not been kind to Pennridge or North Penn the first time through their respective SOL Colonial schedules.
When the teams met Wednesday, one of them was going to pick up their first division win of the season, but it certainly didn’t come easily. While the Rams have struggled with playing the game at their pace, closing the door on teams has been the issue for the Knights, so whoever could figure out an answer would have the advantage.
Pennridge did enough to set the tempo in the fourth quarter then made enough at the foul line to pick up a 50-45 win on the road at North Penn.
“We worked really well as a team tonight, which really helped us,” Rams guard Emma Pyne said. “We were able to make a lot of foul shots at the end, so it just adds up to a good team win.”
Rams coach Mike Elton echoed Pyne in dubbing the victory a team effort. Pennridge (2-5, 1-5 SOL Colonial) hadn’t won since its season-opening victory against Quakertown on Jan. 9 but found a way to stay score-for-score with the Knights until taking a lead early in the fourth quarter.
In the first half, it was a clash of styles in terms of scoring. North Penn (0-5, 0-5 SOL Colonial) got things done with ball movement and pressure defense while the Rams took advantage of how the game was called to put the hosts in early foul trouble and make plenty of trips to the foul line.
A hot streak from behind the arc didn’t hurt the Rams’ cause either as the visitors bagged four triples in the second quarter to go into the half trailing just 31-30.
“Almost everyone on this team is a really good shooter, so we can trust anyone to be there,” guard Katie Yoder said. “If anyone wants to work in the post and gets in trouble, we know someone will be there and we can get it to them.”
Yoder, who led all scorers with 19 points, hit back-to-back threes in the third to put the Rams up 36-33, but the Knights closed the frame on a 6-2 run to take a 39-38 edge to the final period. North Penn, which is still seeking its first win, turned the ball over early in the fourth, allowing Grace Roscia to score and put the visitors ahead for good.
Pyne buried a 3-pointer, her third of the game, to push the lead to four and Yoder would can two at the line for a 45-39 lead with 5:48 to play. The Knights were far from out of the game, but couldn’t get things going back their way at the finish.
“It’s been the story of our season, we haven’t been able to put the pieces together for any extended period of time,” North Penn coach Jen Carangi said. “One of my assistants said after the game, ‘I think we’ve been leading more quarters than we haven’t been,’ and that’s what is so frustrating. We’re getting so close and we don’t know how to get over the hump or how to win.”
Senior Alli Lindsay is the only North Penn player with significant experience closing out games, but division opponents have her pegged and Pennridge didn’t give her any room to shoot in the fourth quarter. Abby Plaugher did her best to try and take some of the pressure off, tying Lindsay with a team-high 14 points including a clutch 3-pointer that pulled the Knights within 45-42 with two minutes left.
A steal by freshman Liv Stone and two ensuing foul shots got North Penn within a point in final 90 seconds, but the Knights seemed rushed on offense after that.
“They’re still young and still figuring out who should be taking the shot,” Carangi said. “So much falls on Alli’s shoulders and I said to her, other teams are going to key on her so her role may be to find the open player. But, some of the other kids aren’t sure if they should be taking that shot and they need to have confidence enough to do that.”
Pennridge wasn’t perfect, but Pyne said the Rams played with a trust in themselves that came to fruition at the end of the game. After missing the front end of two one-and-ones that led to the Knights whittling the lead to one, Pennridge closed 5-of-6 at the free throw line.
Elton felt a crucial subplot in the outcome was his team matching North Penn’s intensity. As the Rams went into the fourth quarter, their bench’s energy rose with each point of the 7-0 run to open the frame and lifted the five players on the floor.
“Usually in our games, the other team sets the pace and something we’ve been working on is making everyone play our game,” Yoder said. “Tonight I think we finally did it and we forced them into a lot of turnovers so it was nice to make somebody go through what we’ve been dealing with.”
North Penn resets for its second trip through the Colonial with a Friday visit to Souderton before hosting Plymouth Whitemarsh on Monday.
Pennridge visits Central Bucks West on Friday as it tries to build on its first division win the second time through the gauntlet. Pyne felt like patience was the biggest takeaway Wednesday night and that’s what the Rams should work with going forward.
“We needed to show patience in our offense and trust in it,” Pyne said. “A lot of times, we force a lot of shots but today we did a lot better with that. I think overall, we did a lot of things better that we’d been talking about in practice and finally had it translate to a game.”
PENNRIDGE 50, NORTH PENN 45
PENNRIDGE 13 17 8 12 – 50
NORTH PENN 14 17 8 6 – 45
Pennridge: Grace Roscia 1 1-5 3, Katie Yoder 5 7-10 19, Kiersten Moyer 1 0-0 3, Ryan Hodder 1 0-0 3, Anna Croyle 1 6-8 9, Emma Pyne 4 2-2 13. Totals: 12 15-20 50
North Penn: Laynie Doran 0 1-2 1, Alli Lindsay 5 2-2 14, Rachel Strobel 1 0-0 2, Caleigh Sperling 1 0-0 2, Liv Stone 2 2-5 6, Abby Plaugher 6 0-0 14, Imani Plaza 1 0-0 2, Ali Johns 2 0-0 4. Totals: 18 5-9 45.
3-pointers: P – Pyne 3, Yoder 2, Moyer, Hodder, Croyle; NP – Lindsay 2, Plaugher 2.