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PAC: Spring-Ford, Perk Valley cruise into championship rematch

02/12/2023, 12:15am EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

GRATERFORD — The Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley girls basketball teams seemed destined to meet in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship since last year’s entertaining league title game.

Following district and state playoff runs to conclude last season, dominant starts to the 2022-23 campaign and a series split in January, the Liberty Division rivals fulfilled their destinies on Saturday when the two squads made it clear that they’re the top dogs in the league, running away with PAC semifinal victories at PV.

Led by 15 points apiece from junior Anna Azzara and Mac Pettinelli, Spring-Ford thumped Phoenixville 64-17; and sophomores Bella Bacani (19), Grace Galbavy (18) and Quinn Boettinger (13) led the way for Perkiomen Valley as it pulled away from Methacton for a 58-33 win to punch their tickets for Wednesday’s league title game at PV.

“It’s gonna be a really, really good game,” Bacani said. “We gotta really work hard in practice and work hard as a team and kind of just stay as a team. It’s gonna be really, really good again to have the home-court advantage.”

Spring-Ford's Meg Robbins, left, and Perk Valley's Quinn Boettinger will tip off against each other again for Wednesday's PAC championship at PV. (Photo: Josh Verlin/ CoBL File)

Behind 12 points from Pettinelli, Spring-Ford (21-3, 8-2 Liberty) jumped out to a 21-5 first-quarter lead on Frontier champion Phoenixville (12-9, 8-2 Frontier) and never relented to start the night’s action. Helped by Azzara and senior forward Meg Robbins, who had all 10 of her points in the first half, the Rams led 41-13 at the break.

A combination of suffocating defense and cutting and crisp ball movement on offense had things look easy throughout for Spring-Ford.

“We just gotta make sure we’re doing our thing every time. We can’t underestimate or anything like that, play our game,” Azzara said of her team’s mindset heading into the matchup.

It was a nice bounceback outing for Azzara as she was much more efficient from the floor after she shot 3-of-17 from the field (not helped by the rims at PV) in a 47-27 victory over OJR in the first round.

“Definitely still getting back it,” Azzara said. “(Thursday) night wasn’t the best shooting night for me, but it happens. Just gotta keep pushing through it, keep working on my shot.”

In the second semifinal, Perkiomen Valley stormed out to a 17-5 lead over Methacton by the end of the first quarter as Boettinger, a sophomore who had 30 the last time the teams matched up, scored nine through the first eight minutes of play. 

Despite Methacton senior forward Mairi Smith picking up three first-quarter fouls, the Warriors hung tough and stayed within reach, 25-16, at halftime. The Warriors chipped the deficit all the way down to six, 28-22, around the six-minute mark in the third quarter. 

Then Bacani caught fire.

PV’s sophomore guard poured in 16 points in the third quarter. She scored 13 of them during an 18-4 run to close the period, including the final 10 points of the third to send the Vikings into the fourth with a 46-24 lead. They scored five more in a row at the start of the fourth and cruised to the finish.

“It’s all mental kind of,” Bacani said. “I just knew they were doubling Quinn, so I was like, ‘I’m going to go to the wing’. And I knew my shot was there. I felt it throughout the whole entire game, and I was just being patient so I knew it would come to me.”

Perk Valley and Spring-Ford both finished with seven makes from 3-point range in their wins Saturday. Bacani had four in the third quarter.

She said the script the Vikings followed Saturday is one they’ve followed throughout the season with Boettinger’s work inside early opening things up for the rest of the team on the perimeter.

“Once they lock down on her, they double her, so then there’s just the kick out,” Bacani said. “I really do practice. Before games I practice the kick out and shooting it because I know it’s going to be there in the second half of the game.

Spring-Ford, which has won five straight PAC titles, used a fourth-quarter rally to take down the Vikings, 43-36, in last season’s title game. Spring-Ford graduated one senior and Perk Valley two (also losing sophomore Grace Miley before the season with an injury) from the teams that met up last February.

With the exception of Galbavy, who had her season end in the first round of the PAC Final Six against Spring-Ford last season while with Upper Perk, most of both rotations have title game experience.

The teams split their two regular season meetings — a 54-39 Spring-Ford win on Jan. 18 and a 55-48 PV win on Jan. 24 — setting up what should be another terrific matchup between the PAC and District 1 heavyweights. The bell has officially rang for round three.

“We’re very excited,” Azzara said before she knew which team the Rams would face in the title game. “We know we’re going to play a good team Methacton or PV. It’s gonna be fun.”

Spring-Ford 61, Phoenixville 17

By Quarter

Spring-Ford  21 | 20 | 8 | 15 || 61

Phoenixville  5 | 8 | 1 | 3 || 17


Spring-Ford: Anna Azzara 15, Mac Pettinelli 15, Meg Robbins 10, Kareen Preuss 8, Lilly Brescia 5, Haley Prophet 3, Katie Tiffan 3, Siena Miller 2, Alexa VanDerzee 2, Christian Tiffan 1

Phoenixville: Rylee Ford-Bey 5, Lucy Mauerman 4, Ava Gnias 3, Nevaeh Latimore-Beasley 2, Caroline Flick 2, Jaime Michaud 1

Perkiomen Valley 58, Methacton 33

By Quarter

Methacton 5 | 11 | 8 | 9 || 33

Perk Valley 3 | 7 | 3 | 12 || 58


Methacton: Abby Arnold 12, Cassidy Kropp 10, Mairi Smith 6, Reana Torres 5.

Perk Valley: Bella Bacani 19, Grace Galbavy 18, Quinn Boettinger 13, Lena Steain 4, Ella Stein 3, Anna Stein 1.

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