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District 1 6A: Top seed Perkiomen Valley takes care of North Penn

02/29/2024, 12:00am EST
By Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson (@ADrobinson3)

COLLEGEVILLE — Perk Valley wasn’t interested in leaving anything to chance.

Sure, the Vikings were a popular pick all season to get back to the District 1 6A title game they’d won a year ago and for good reason. However, just because a team is the top seed and a trendy favorite doesn’t mean it just gets a free pass.

PV earned its shot to defend its title, the Vikings taking apart No. 5 North Penn 67-36 in their semifinal game Wednesday night.

“It gave us motivation,” junior center Quinn Boettinger said. “We know we can get there because we know we’ve been there. It let us hold ourselves accountable to that standard, work hard every practice and although we won last year, not take it for granted.”

Boettinger tallied a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds while junior Grace Galbavy had 18 points and five assists in leading PV back to the Liacouras Center.

Perkiomen Valley junior, from left, Grace Galbavy, Grace Miley and Quinn Boettinger pose together following Wednesday's win over North Penn. (Photo: Andrew Robinson/CoBL)

The Knights, playing in their first district semifinal since they went on to win the old 4A title in 2013-14 while current head coach Bri Cullen was still playing on the team, had certainly caught PV’s attention. Having a scorer like senior Caleigh Sperling at this point of the year gives any team a chance, and the Jefferson recruit had also caught PV’s attention with her quarterfinal heroics against Haverford.

Early on, PV certainly looked the part of a team that knew what it wanted and knew what it took. The Vikings scored the game’s first 10 points and led by 12, 17-5, after the first eight minutes.

Junior Grace Miley, who got the start on Wednesday and assisted the opening basket, used one word to sum up PV’s approach off the tip.

“Intensity, for sure,” Miley said. “We couldn’t afford to come out slow and just think we were going to win, we had to play hard to get there.”

Perk Valley might have brought back all five starters, might have carried the title of preseason favorite into year and might have held those lofty expectations, but this wasn’t the same team/ On top of the requisite added offseason of experience for each of the returning players, the rotation changed up. Miley, who missed all of last season recovering from an ACL tear, and senior Anna Stein, who had a limited role last season, solidified themselves into the top seven.

Miley had three points Wednesday, adding nine rebounds, two assists and drawing a charge while Stein had five points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal off the bench. 

The Vikings had 17 assists on 28 baskets against the Knights.

“The chemistry’s definitely there now,” Galbavy said. “We already experienced it last year, we just all want it to happen again. We’ve been here before, it’s not as nerve-racking as it was last year at this point.

“The goal was always to be back at Temple. That’s what we should be aiming for every year.”

Sperling tallied a team-high 14 for the Knights, but the senior had to do so while covered by Lena or Anna Stein the whole game with Boettinger or Galbavy usually one rotation away if needed as well. 

“Our mindset was to play our own game, not rely so much on the outside shots and try to get to the rim,” Sperling said. “We did start to late in the game, but by then it was too late. We focused on guarding the paint, Quinn is so good and has so many moves, but when we did that, their other players stepped up.”

While PV had a 33-14 lead at the half, the Vikings still picked up some things they could be doing better. Galbavy felt the team’s offense was sharper in the second half, the junior forward pointing to some passes against North Penn’s zone that led to open threes.

“It was mostly the person getting there, we were all kind of staying in the corner in the first half instead of cutting to that block,” Galbavy said. “We had to figure it out, it took us too long.”

North Penn got a major spark from freshman Lily Brown. The lefty came off the bench to score 11 points but it was her fearless and aggressive play that stood out, Brown going right at the rim to draw an and-one on her first attempt of the game.

Brown’s spirited play, the super-sub adding three rebounds, an assist and a steal, seemed to encourage her teammates.

“She’s relentless and she just loves to play,” Sperling said. “She doesn’t care who she’s playing against, she’ll play her game and go as hard as she can the whole time. She really stepped up in this game, especially when things weren’t going our way on offense.”

North Penn will play for third place but either way, the Knights are assured of their first state playoff appearance since 2019-20 but the first for this current group of players.

“It’s what we’ve been working for all season,” Sperling said. “Being able to play Perk Valley will really help us, they’re one of the better teams we’ll see.”

Awaiting PV on Saturday will be a very familiar foe in Spring-Ford. The No. 6 Rams had an equally complete win over Conestoga earlier Wednesday, setting up a fourth clash between the powers this year.

Although PV has won the first three, as Galbavy noted, Spring-Ford’s got experience playing at Temple too and there’s probably nobody who has played the Vikings tougher than their PAC rivals in the Rams.

“We’re playing the best of that side of the bracket, so we have to bring our best,” Boettinger said.

“Spring-Ford’s definitely going to bring theirs,” Galbavy added.

By Quarter

PERKIOMEN VALLEY 17 | 16 | 18 | 16 || 67

NORTH PENN 5 | 9 | 11 | 11 || 36


PV: Quinn Boettinger 20, Grace Galbavy 18, Bella Bacani 14, Lena Stein 5, Anna Stein 5, Grace Miley 3

NP: Caleigh Sperling 14, Lily Brown 11, Liv Stone 4, Tallie Smink 3, Leah Mikulski 2, Cam Crowley 2

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