FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> Most basketball teams hope to have the luxury of a 1-2 scoring punch to take down opponents.
The Methacton girls basketball team has a pairing of players who similarly complement each other on the other end of the floor — a 1-2 defensive duo that is equally effective at knocking opponents out.
Junior Cassidy Kropp applies pressure on the perimeter, and classmate Mairi Smith erases shots inside. The pair spearheaded a suffocating defensive effort Thursday against Pope John Paul II that led the way in a 53-19 Pioneer Athletic Conference crossover victory on Thursday night.
“I’m extremely proud of Cass,” Methacton coach Craig Kaminski said. “Cass is probably our best defender. She most of the times draws the No. 1 offensive threat on the other team. She really goes after it and plays tremendous defense for us.
“And then it’s so nice to have Mairi back there because if we get beat, she stays in the lane, she’s blocking shots or making shots that much harder. Both of them on defense tonight were great for us.”
Senior Nicole Timko scored 19 points and junior Cassidy Kropp scored 12, but in a game where the PAC’s top offense took a while to get going the Warriors relied on a stifling defense to win the battle of division leaders.
Methacton limited PJP’s 1-2 punch of seniors Amelia Kennedy and Tess Crossan, who average more than 32 points per game, to a combined nine points.
Crossan led the Golden Panthers with six and Kennedy scored three.
“The defense was the game changer tonight,” said Smith, who registered eight blocks. “(Coach) Craig (Kaminski) told us we had to watch 3 (Tess Crossan) and 11 (Amelia Kennedy) and that was going to be the difference. We went in with the mentality that needed to be our focus tonight.”
The Golden Panthers (6-6, 6-2 PAC), coming off a decisive Frontier Division victory over Upper Perkiomen on Tuesday, held their own in the early parts of Thursday’s contest against the Warriors (12-1, 8-0 PAC), who have won their last 10 games by double digits.
Despite a 10-point effort from Timko in the period, PJP trailed just 10-7 after the first quarter. The Golden Panthers scored six straight to start the second, taking a 13-10 lead with a little more than five to play in the half.
Then the clamps of Methacton’s defense came out.
The Warriors did not allow another point until a free throw by Kennedy at the 3:29 mark in the third quarter. They did not allow another field goal until there was 3:30 to go in the game.
Methacton led 20-13 at halftime, 32-14 at the end of the third quarter, and then ran away with things in the fourth.
“We knew if we were lacking on offense we had to really pick it up (on defense),” Kropp said. “We were getting a lot of tips, a lot of steals and it resulted in helping us play better on offense.”
The Warriors closed the game on a 43-9 run.
Pope John Paul II coach Jack Flanagan said one of his players joked that playing against the Warriors — in their green and white uniforms — felt more like going up against Michigan State on Thursday night.
“That’s a good team, and you try to take away a lot of the positives at least early on in that half,” Flanagan said. “The Sixers have kind of used this term and beat it to death, focus on ‘the process’ and not so much the results because obviously this result tonight at the end isn’t what we want. But there are positives in the process tonight of how we prepared for them. They’re a great team.”
Methacton, ranked No. 5 in District 1-6A, is a game ahead of Spring-Ford and two ahead of Perkiomen Valley in the league standings with victories against each team. The Warriors are starting to feel something special brewing with just one contest — a 59-50 loss to West Chester Rustin on Dec. 16 — decided by single digits this season.
“I think we’re trying to live up to the expectations that have been placed on us since the beginning of the season,” Smith said. “We know there are a lot of eyes watching, so I think we’re excited to see what we can do this year.”
NOTES >> The Warriors will have to navigate the end of the regular season without senior Tori Bockrath, who Kaminski said was just starting to play some of the best basketball of her career. Bockrath is likely out the next two to three weeks with a sprained ankle suffered Tuesday against Norristown. Reana Torres joined the starting lineup, scoring five points. … Timko is up to 1,461 career points, trailing 2008 grad Renee Womack school record 1,682. At her current paced of 19 points per game, she would need 12 games to pass the mark. The Warriors have nine regular-season games remaining and should be guaranteed multiple postseason contests.
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|January 20, 2022||6:45 pm||PAC||2021|
Pope John Paul II