Upper Perk's Rachael Keeney attempts to get a shot off as a Rams player reaches for the block in Saturday night's PAC-10 semifinal playoff game.
The mighty Spring-Ford Rams poured a cold bucket of big school-versus-small-school reality on the Upper Perk girls basketball team in a 69-20 pasting of the Indians in a semifinal playoff game Saturday night.
Throw in the facts that the Rams are the defending PIAA AAAA champions, are ranked number one in the area by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and were playing on their home court, an Upper Perk win would have been biblical.
“That Spring-Ford team is like a buzz saw,” marveled Upper Perk coach Pete Sovia. “They are an excellent ball team: well-coached, great athletes, great basketball players.”
It had been a feel good week for the Tribe: three non-league wins, Stacey Auckland’s 1,000th career point, senior night, and anticipation of the first PAC-10 playoff game in two decades.
All of that went by the boards quickly on Saturday night. Brittany Moore hit a three-pointer on Spring-Ford’s first attempt, and the Rams used a boa constrictor-like full court press to squeeze dry any hope for a competitive game.
Upper Perk turned the ball over on eight of its first nine possessions as the Rams swarmed, double teaming the ball deep in the backcourt. By the time Sovia called his second timeout of the quarter with 3:37 left, the Tribe trailed 19-0.
“They completely took us out of our game. To be honest with you, we did everything we could. They’re just that much better. They’re one of the best teams in the state. There’s no doubt,” said Sovia.
Underlining the Rams' balance, all five starters had scored points in the first four and half minutes of the game.
By the time the quarter mercifully came to an end, Spring Ford led 28-0 and had hit five three-pointers. Sammy Stipa tallied eight points, and Shelby Mueller had seven.
“We had some stage fright, there’s no doubt about it, early on,” Sovia noted, “and it’s to be expected. This is a big, big stage for us. We worked very hard during the season to get here, and we did.”
After the Tribe finally broke its ice on a pair of free throws by Holly Crossin, the Tribe played a much better second stanza, scoring 11 points, five from Auckland, who would finish with nine.
It was 45-11 at the half. The Rams shot only 35 percent from the field but managed to get off 62 shots thanks in no small part to 16 offensive rebounds in the half.
The Rams continued to stretch their lead in the second half, but Sovia took the opportunity to get some of his youngsters some experience and prep for the District 1 playoffs coming up next week.
Underclassmen Aubrey Gibbs, Holly Graber, and Jess Spano got some significant minutes in a playoff atmosphere.
“I thought the younger kids did a nice job. They played like they belonged in the game,” said Sovia.
While Spring-Ford took on Methacton in the PAC-10 championship game on Wednesday night, Upper Perk was bent on redemption in the AAA tournament.
According to Sovia, “Just getting here, it’s been a journey, a source of accomplishment, a success, and we got to build on it, and I think we need to go into Districts working pretty good [this] week. Show folks that we deserve to be here.”