Anthony Dabbundo (@AnthonyDabbundo)
With Upper Merion star forward Matt Faw out with a foot injury, the door was wide open for Perkiomen Valley’s Hogan Millheim to have a career night.
The senior forward made no mistake.
Millheim recorded a career high 23 points en route to another impressive blowout win over a PAC title rival, 66-39.
The visiting Vikings have now recorded six consecutive league wins, streaking to first place in the conference after a surprising loss to Owen J. Roberts to open league play.
The emergence of the 6-foot-1 Millheim as an inside presence both scoring and rebounding has proved to be the X-factor this season.
“Hogan’s success is our success,” Perk Valley head coach Mike Poysden said. “He’s worked so hard every offseason, getting better every year, and he deserves of all of his success.”
After scoring only five points per game last year in a limited offensive role, Millheim knew he would have to improve offensively, being that he’s the only inside presence the Vikings have.
“I credit AAU basketball this past spring I played in a lot of tournaments and that really prepared me well for this season,” Millheim said. “I use my assets.”
Entering Thursday, Millheim was averaging 9.1 points per game, and after his career-high, that number is sure to rise.
The three year starter may be undersized, but he’s not to be underestimated. Across the league, he’s been matched up with bigger guys, from Spring-Ford’s Austin Hokanson (6-4), Methacton’s Jeff Woodward (6-8), and on Thursday, Ethan Miller (6-6).
For giving up multiple inches to the centers across the league, Millheim has done quite the job both defensively and on the glass.
“There are nights he plays outstanding and scores eight points, and there are nights he plays outstanding and scores 23,” Poysden said. “We’re not big, but we rebound.”
With Jaworski, Millheim, and fellow senior tri-captain Sean Owens, who recorded nine points and seven assists, the Vikings have made a statement to the entire league about just how dangerous they can be.
On Thursday, Perk Valley’s offense was firing on all cylinders yet again. Despite a slow start from Jaworski, Owens found a lot of success feeding Millheim on the inside. The visitors jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, and never looked back.
“Sean, Justin, and I have been playing together for so long now we have great chemistry,” Millheim said. “We know where each other are going to before we’re even there.”
Millheim scored 6 first quarter points, and Owens and Jaworski combined for four assists in the opening eight minutes.
With Jaworski commanding so much attention from opposing defenses, Millheim knew he would get the opportunities on dump offs from the two standout guards.
“They over help because he’s [Jaworski] such a dynamic player and can get to the basket, and that leaves me with an easy lay-up right there,” Millheim said.
At the other end of the court, the home Vikings just could not get shots to fall. The usually excellent 3-point shooting team shot just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, and were held to single digits in each of the first two quarters.
“We tried to key in on Miller because we know he’s a really good player,” Poysden said. “They also have a lot of shooters we had to contest.”
Outside of Miller, who scored 13 points in the loss, Upper Merion sharpshooters Andrew Persaud and Aidan Newell struggled to find a rhythm, and the visitors took full advantage.
The offensive barrage continued into the second half, with the visitors starting the half on a 17-5 run, expanding the lead to 25, with the lead reaching as many as 29 points.
It was the second half that Jaworski finally joined in on the action, scoring 18 second half points. The senior guard picked up his 1,000th point last week with a lay-up vs Norristown, and added 22 to his total Thursday on 7-of-11 shooting from the field.
With a trio of seniors that have three years worth of varsity experience, Perk Valley has made a statement to the entire league with six consecutive league wins. It’s now up to the rest of the league to respond.