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Key 3s help Perkiomen Valley to Neshaminy, qualify to state tournament

GRATERFORD >> The question elicited a laugh from John Russo.

But it seemed an obvious one; namely, if his girls spent extra time at practice working on their 3-point shooting.

Long-distance gunnery was an integral part of Perkiomen Valley’s game plan for Wednesday’s District 1 Class 6A second-round playoff matchup with Neshaminy. It was a particularly effective tone-setter for the Vikings in their 44-32 win over the Redskins, one that put them in the state’s 6A playoff field as one of the district’s eight quarterfinalists.

To Russo’s way of thinking, shooting 3-pointers is more than just an insert to the team’s offensive strategy.

“It’s a key part of our game … taking good shots,” PV’s head coach said.

The Vikings (20-5) strung together five of those “good shots” in a five-minute stretch spanning the first and second quarters. Jennifer Beattie, Grace Miley and Emma Miley started the run with 2:37 left in the first before Lena Stein hit back-to-back treys in the second quarter’s first 2:27.

The threes enabled the Vikings to go up 19-12, the run stopped by a 3-pointer from Neshaminy’s Taylor Gurysch. But the lead they forged held up the rest of the game. PV‘s Quinn Boettinger scored twice in 11 seconds, and Grace Miley banked home one more basket 33 seconds before intermission.
“Beattie and Grace Miley know how to get to the right spots,” Russo noted.

In the process, PV completed the achievement of three goals it set at the start of the season.

“We wanted to get a home playoff game, win a playoff game and get to states,” Russo noted. “We got them all done tonight.”

Neshaminy, in the meantime, still has a shot at qualifying for states. To get there, however, the 10th-seeded Redskins (16-7) will have to win Saturday to be in the running for the remaining four spots of the district’s 12 state qualifiers.

Having already accomplished that, PV can turn more attention to joining fellow Pioneer Athletic Conference member Spring-Ford in the district’s championship chase. Standing in the seventh-seeded Vikes’ way is second seed Souderton, who they face 2 p.m. Saturday.

“We’d like the opportunity to play them (Spring-Ford) again,” Beattie said.

Boettinger, a force in the paint with numerous rebounds and blocks, also came on strong later in the game to finish as the top scorer with 15 points.

She was also obvious in her distribution of the ball to Grace Miley, the team’s second-leading scorer with 11, and Beattie, Lena Stein and Emma Miley, each of whom had six points.

Coming out of a 27-17 first half, PV got back-to-back bank shots from Boettinger to start the third. It kept the double-digit lead intact the rest of the way, even while Neshaminy’s Lola Ibarrando strung together seven points in a 2-1/2 minute span.

Prior to that surge, Emma Miley and Beattie scored Perk Valley’s final two 3-pointers to help it go up by 15 (39-24) as the third quarter wound down.

In the low-scoring fourth quarter, Boettinger had all five of the Vikings’ points with a basket and 3-for-3 at the foul line. But the PV defense limited Neshaminy to a Ibarrando 3 and Skylar Lall’s “traditional” three pointer: A basket and free throw as she drew a shooting foul.

“In the third and fourth,” Russo recalled, “they (Neshaminy) were getting foul calls. We keyed on 40 (Zeimitis), 35 (Ibarrando) and 13 (Gurysch).”

While the Vikings have busy present ahead — three more district games between now and next weekend — the prospect of being a state qualifier is very much a big deal.

“We have a young team that hasn’t been here before,” Emma Miley said. “From a senior point of view, this is a big accomplishment.”

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