BOYS’ BASKETBALL: Perkiomen Valley holds off Norristown

WEST NORRITON >> After Perkiomen Valley dominated the third quarter, Jakob Harken completed a three-point play to start the fourth and give the Vikings a 12-point lead over Norristown.

The Eagles didn’t go away. Behind a spectacular fourth quarter from Jayden Byrd, Norristown rattled off an 18-9 run to get within one possession in the final minute.

Perk Valley never let the Eagles have the ball with a chance to tie. The Vikings went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 45.3 seconds to pick up a Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division win, 65-62, at Norristown Area High School.

“We love taking free throws,” PV guard Julian Sadler, who went 7-for-7 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter (23 points), said. “We love going to the line. We have a lot of free-throw shooters, obviously me and (Kyle Shawaluk) are good free-throw shooters, but getting to the line is what we want.”

“We practice them every day,” Shawaluk said. “Being able to knock them down late in the game is important.”

Byrd scored 15 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to get Norristown within striking distance. He had a three-point play to make it 55-51 with two minutes left and, after Sadler had his own three-point play, made back-to-back layups to get the Eagles within three, 58-55, with 50 seconds to go.

“The biggest thing for him tonight was he only had one turnover,” Norristown coach Chris Podsobinski said of Byrd. “He handles the ball a lot for us. He was our guy tonight. One turnover for him is extremely good with the volume he handles the ball. He was getting downhill… He was clutch in the fourth quarter. We were close, we just couldn’t quite get there.”

The PAC Liberty rivals went back-and-forth from the free-throw line over the final minute. Perk Valley went 7-for-8 while Norristown was 3-for-4, adding layups from Byrd and Myon Kirlew (15 points) to trim five-point deficits to three.

Perk Valley (16-3, 8-2 PAC, 6-2 PAC Liberty) took control of the game in the third quarter. The Vikings won the frame, 13-5, to extend a 33-32 halftime lead to 46-37. Sadler scored the first five points of the half before Shawaluk and Sean Wagoner hit three-pointers and Ryan Murphy added a basket.

“Our thing has been four quarters,” Podsobinski said. “We played maybe three-and-a-half, three-and-a-quarter. We gave the third quarter away, I felt. We came storming back, but digging that hole – it’s tough to get out of that hole because a lot of energy is expended.”

Shawaluk’s third-quarter three was his fifth triple of the night. He hit three 3-pointers during a 14-point second quarter and finished with 22 points.

“Once I see the first one go in then I know I can hit the rest of the shots,” he said. “That’s what I was able to do. My teammates were putting me in positions to succeed and I was able to knock down the shots. Shots were feeling good out there.”

The win keeps Perk Valley alive for a chance at a PAC Liberty regular-season title. The Vikings, currently ranked No. 9 in District 1-6A, are two games behind Spring-Ford. S-F faces Methacton Tuesday before closing out the regular season against Perk Valley Thursday.

“In Liberty Division games,” PV coach Mike Poysden said, “the moment you’re on the second half, once you get to January, they all have that playoff feel to them. Everybody is going out and giving their best. Everybody is competing hard. It has that atmosphere even though it may not have all the implications of it. We certainly wanted to make sure we came out of here victorious today.”

“We’re in a position where we can’t lose any more games,” Sadler said. “We’re just taking it every game at a time. We have three more league games, two Liberty next week. This is definitely a good win and I’m hoping to build on it (Friday) night (against Pottsgrove).”

Norristown (8-10, 4-6 PAC, 2-6 PAC Liberty) entered the game against Perk Valley as the No. 25 team in District 1-6A, where the top 24 teams qualify for playoffs. The Eagles face Upper Merion, Boyertown, Owen J. Roberts and Pottstown to close out the regular season.

“Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday we have to win all those,” Podsobinski said, “then we’ll be in the PAC playoffs and then we have Pottstown to end the season. I think if we win out we get in the district at 12-10. (If we’re) 11-11, I think you’re playing with math and hoping something breaks your way. They know the deal. We’ve got six seniors. They don’t want it to end next Friday. We’re going to do everything we can not to have it end next Friday.”

Perkiomen Valley 65, Norristown 62

Perkiomen Valley 15 18 13 19 – 65

Norristown 13 19 5 25 – 62

PV: Jakob Harken 2 0 1-1 5, Julian Sadler 6 1 8-8 23, Ryan Murphy 2 0 0-0 4, Kyle Shawaluk 3 5 1-2 22, Josh Tagert 0 1 3-4 6, Sean Wagoner 1 1 0-0 5, Ty Hoppenwasser 0 0 0-0 0. Total 14 8 13-15 65.

N: Jayden Byrd 7 0 7-10 21, Miles Daniels 3 0 0-2 6, Rashon Giddens 3 0 2-2 8, Kevin Bonds 3 0 0-0 6, Myon Kirlew 3 0 9-12 15, CJ John 0 0 0-0 0, Tyson Tuggle 0 2 0-0 6. Total 19 2 18-26 62.

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