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Yoder propels Pennridge rally past CB East as standout season continues

02/01/2023, 2:45am EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Pennridge senior Katie Yoder saw her three older brothers help the Rams on postseason runs at the school.before her.

First Kyle, then Sean, then Luke — the latter two helping the Pennridge boys, perennial District 1 qualifiers, to the state title game together in 2019.

Their younger sister entered her final season with the Rams with just one postseason memory — an opening round defeat as freshman back in 2020.

As the youngest Yoder winds down her career and her family’s decade-long stint at the school, it looks more and more likely that she will get the chance to add one (and maybe a few) more.

Yoder, a recent Goldey-Beacom commit, scored 19 points in a comeback 47-38 comeback win over Central Buck East on Tuesday that pushed her squad closer to hosting a District 1 playoff game for the first time in at least a decade and a half.

“It’s very exciting,” Yoder said. “One of our goals coming into this season was to host a playoff game. Once we saw that we were in range to host a playoff game, ever since that we’ve been grinding hard. It’s crazy that it’s actually going to happen because none of us on the team has ever experienced it. It’s pretty cool.”

Pennridge senior Katie Yoder, center, scored 15 of her 19 points after halftime in a win over CB East on Tuesday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Pennridge first-year coach Jason Rapp said he went back as far as 15 years and didn’t see any record of the Rams hosting a district playoff game. Prior to this season, they had just one winning campaign in their last 14 seasons and none during Yoder’s career.

The Rams (14-6, 9-5 SOL Colonial) have felt pretty comfortable about securing their spot in the 24-team tournament for a while now, but they knew Tuesday’s contest against the Patriots (14-5, 10-4) could boost their chances of getting the coveted home game (top 16 teams). They entered No. 15 in the District 1-6A power rankings, two spots behind C.B. East.

Despite trailing 23-15 at halftime, the Rams had a plan of attack, which was to attack. Yoder took the ball on a tough drive to the hoop on the first possession, setting the tone for the rest of the quarter.

“We’re a really good attacking team, so if our shots aren’t falling — I think the first half we were like 1-for-8 from three — when we see our shots aren’t falling, just drive,” Yoder said. “We’ll get some kick outs eventually and our shots will fall.”

The Rams opened the second half with 13 straight points, going ahead 28-23 on a three by Olivia Poole before Anna Barry (nine points) scored the Patriots’ first and only points of the quarter with three minutes left in the third. Pennridge followed with another run of 12 consecutive points as it entered the fourth with a 37-25 lead. The Rams outscored CB East, 22-2, in the third.

“We have gone on some spurts this year,” Rapp said. “I think I heard we scored 22 points that quarter. The other night, we scored 27 against Souderton, but we also got shut out a quarter.

“If we get shots, they go in a lot. When our kids attack the rim, they’re tough to guard. I thought more importantly though, defensively, we clamped down finally in the third quarter and we rebounded.”

Yoder had nine points in the third. She scored the last seven points of the period and scored the first basket of the fourth to extend the Pennridge lead to 39-25 and it was over after that. Junior Anna Croyle added nine points for the Rams. Kendall Gregor and Keira Shea both added eight for the Patriots.

“She has been unbelievable since the day I got this job,” Rapp said of Yoder. “She puts in the time, she works, she doesn’t complain. She plays through everything. You can’t really tell in her face. Nothing changes. As a high school kid, that’s tough to do.”

Pennridge junior Anna Croyle scored nine points against CB East. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

It’s clear what Rapp means. Yoder’s aggressive style of play doesn’t always draw the benefit of the whistle. Luckily, she’s used to playing through contact.

Two-on-two games in the Yoder family driveaway and other competition with her brothers growing up made her tough — and tough to stop.

“They’re better than me obviously, they’re physical, just being there to help me, push me,” Yoder said of her older brothers. “They made me stronger, everything.”

Kyle was an All-SOL honorable mention selection as a senior. Sean, now playing at Navy, was a three-time first team All-SOL selection and finished as the boys program’s all-time leading scorer. Luke, currently a manager for the Liberty University men’s basketball team, was a first team all-league player as a senior as well.

Katie said it was sometimes difficult to try and live up to those accomplishments. She’s certainly succeeded, however.

Katie was recognized as an All-SOL second team selection as sophomore and earned first team honors as a junior last season. She’s one of the league’s best players again as a senior and may soon add her name alongside Sean’s on the school’s 1,000-point list as she’s closing in on the mark.

“They’re my biggest supporters and watch all my games,” Yoder said of her brothers. “We work out whenever they’re home. They push me to be my best everyday. They hold me accountable, so it’s been great having them there. They give me some expectations to live up to, which can be hard sometimes but it’s for the best and I like it.”

Tuesday’s loss was C.B. East’s only defeat this season that wasn’t by one-possession. The Patriots, still in good shape to host a District 1-6A playoff game of their own at No. 14, had seven total points separate them and their opponents in losses to Pennridge, Souderton, Pennsbury and Gwynedd Mercy.

Pennridge has wins over Pennsbury (No. 11), Methacton (No. 13) and North Penn (No. 22) this season and played Colonial division champion Souderton (No. 4) tight last week. The decisive victory Tuesday helped reinforce what the Rams are capable of as the postseason nears.

“This is a great confidence booster,” Yoder said. “They’re above us right now in power rankings, so we needed this win. They’re hanging with everyone in the league, so it’s just good to know that we can hang with anyone in the league and we can beat anyone in the league. It just shows we’re a good team, capable of beating anybody this year.”

“In the locker room, we’ve got stuff that we can go pretty far this year and make history this year,” she added.

Pennridge closes with CB West and CB South, splitting the two matchups earlier this season. Two wins would put Yoder and her teammates in great position to add to Pennridge girls basketball history.

“It’s been a while,” Rapp said of hosting a district playoff game. “Hopefully this one will give us the start to win those next two.”

By Quarter

Pennridge:  15   |   15   |  7  |   8   ||  38

C.B. East:  12  |   7   |   16   |   12   ||  47


Pennridge: Katie Yoder 19, Anna Croyle 9, Ella Brown 6, Olivia Poole 5, Grace Rosica 5, Ava Fantaskey 3

C.B. East: Anna Barry 9, Kendall Gregor 8, Keira Shea 8, Natalie Berndt 5, Erin Leray 4, Chantal Van dongeren 4

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