FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> A red-hot start by Mairi Smith boosted Methacton to a 17-point lead at halftime on Thursday night. Then after a frenetic comeback by Owen J. Roberts cut the margin to three, the 6-foot-2 senior helped the Warriors regain control for good in a 49-43 Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division win.
Smith wound up with 24 points, along with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots, and Cassidy Kropp added 10 points for Methacton (6-2 Liberty, 9-2 PAC, 14-5 overall). Ashly White led the visiting Wildcats (3-5, 6-5, 8-11) with 14 points, Asya Price added 13 and Gabbi Koury scored 10.
OJR could not stop Smith from getting inside shots in the first half and she took advantage of the opportunities by shooting 6-for-6 from the floor – including a 3-pointer – and 3-for-3 from the free throw line for 16 points.
“She’s been working a lot,” said Methacton coach Craig Kaminski. “She’s been working hard on her post moves.”
“I think that’s really been a focus for us,” Smith said concerning her inside game. “I’ve been working things out with Cassidy.”
The Warriors led 30-13 at halftime, including a 17-point run that opened up a 23-6 lead, but found it difficult to keep up the momentum after the halftime break. Especially when Kropp went to the bench with four fouls three minutes into the second half and Reana Torres (7 points) followed after picking up her fourth late in the quarter.
The Wildcats scored the final eight points of the quarter on two straight treys and a pair of free throws by Price and ran their string of points to 12 straight early in the fourth to cut the lead to 34-30.
Roberts cut the margin to 36-33 on a 3-point bomb from the left corner by White and had the ball with a chance to tie, but that’s when Smith took over again. She scored inside, then again off an offensive rebound and hit both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 42-33 advantage with 3:17 to go in the contest. OJR never got closer than five points after that.
“It was hard to have halftime and come back out,” said Smith. “We were a little flat and then we got into foul trouble. We got a big contribution from our bench players.”
“A tale of two halves,” said Kaminski. “The first half, we played extremely well and did a lot of nice things. The second half, we came out a little flat. We still won a game with two starters on the bench with foul trouble. We had two other seniors out there – Ashley Fisher and Morgan Coupe – but Mairi is the only one who really has game experience. She’s a great senior leader for us. We rely a lot on her.”
Kropp came into the night needing 25 points to reach 1,000 for her high school career. But the Wildcat defense held her to just six points on four shots in the first half and she sat out nearly eight minutes with her four fouls.
“Koury played her well on defense,” said Kaminski.
Smith wound up 9-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line. She had the only three field goals for Methacton in the fourth quarter as the OJR defense forced seven turnovers.
The Wildcats still have a shot at a PAC wildcard playoff berth. On the other hand, Methacton has wrapped up a spot in the league playoffs and is now ranked No. 13 in District 1-6A with 24 teams making the field.
And even though things got tense in the second half, the Warriors think they will benefit from such games when the playoffs come around.
“We need these games going forward,” said Smith. “Trying to keep our cool.”
“You want to have tough games,” Kaminski added. “We did enough things at the end for us to win, We have Spring-Ford next and then Boyertown next week and West Chester Rustin. We want to be playing good basketball. We have a big slate of games.”
Owen J. Roberts vs Methacton
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Owen J. Roberts