Anthony Dabbundo (@AnthonyDabbundo)
With Spring-Ford on an 11-0 run in the fourth to cut Perkiomen Valley’s lead to just three points, the Vikings were in desperate need of a basket.
They called upon Justin Jaworski.
And like he’s been doing for each of the last two seasons, on the gridiron and basketball court, Jaworski did what Jaworski does.
The Vikings superstar guard drained a long three, the most critical three points of his season-high 34 point showing, en route to the Vikings’ 65-58 win over the visiting Rams.
“I like being the leader,” Jaworski said. “I like having the ball in those situations and hitting the big shot.”
When asked how to gameplan against the Vikings superstar guard, Rams head coach Chris Talley had a simple, yet accurate answer.
“You don’t,” Talley admitted. “He’s too good that even if you take him away, he’ll make everyone else better.”
After missing his first two threes of the evening, the two-sport star put on a clinic, shooting 10-of-11 from the field, and sinking all 10 of his free throws.
Not only does the Vikings’ guard hold the Pioneer Athletic Conference record for most receiving yards on the gridiron, but ‘Jaws’ is also a member of the Perk Valley 1,000 point club.
All of this after Jaworski had thought he could have missed this entire season.
His season was in jeopardy after September 16, when Jaworski was tackled awkwardly, and helped off the field, unable to put weight on his knee.
He feared the worst.
“The first thing that shot into my mind was that I tore my ACL,” he admitted. “And that I was going to miss basketball.”
Fortunately for Jaworski and the Vikings, his MRI came back negative. He missed just three weeks with a sprained MCL, returning just in time to help his team defeat the rival Rams.
At wideout, he led his team to both a league title and district semifinal appearance.
Fueled by the heightened rivalry over the past two seasons with Spring-Ford, there is one team he and his teammates circle each and every time they appear on the schedule.
“I love it, whether it’s football or basketball,” Jaworski said of the rivalry. “It’s the game I always look forward to, and the atmosphere is always incredible.”
Despite shooting just 2-of-4 in the opening quarter with four points, it was only a matter of time before the two dimensional scoring guard took over the game.
“My coaches always say that shooters keep shooting, and whether I am 1-10 from three or 10-10, I’ll keep shooting,” he said.
In the second quarter, the shots began to fall. He scored 14 points, hitting two threes from NBA range, whilst converting two 3-point plays on excellent finesse finishes around the rim.
Efficiency is the key to the Vikings offense, and they had it on display yet again Friday. They were 13-of-24 from the field in the first half with just four turnovers, while turnovers plagued the Rams.
Spring-Ford turned the ball over 10 times in the first half alone, allowing the Vikings to jump out to a 10-point edge at the half.
“In a game that’s a seven-point spread, three or four turnovers make the difference,” Talley said.
Trailing 49-35 with just 6:30 left on the clock, the Rams turned up the pressure. And almost stole the game.
They forced the Vikings into five fourth quarter turnovers, cutting a 14 point deficit to just three with 3:30 to go. Poysden called timeout, and Jaworski’s three ended all momentum the Rams had built.
“They stepped up the pressure on us and caused a lot of turnovers,” Jaworski said. “We didn’t handle it well.”
The Rams threatened again, cutting the deficit to five with a minute remaining, where they were done in by their 16th turnover.
Despite a team-high 16 off the bench from Chucky Drummond, and 15 from junior forward Austin Hokanson, the Rams came up short.
“We’re much different team than the first time we played them,” Talley said. “We just have to take care of the ball.”
This win leaves Perk Valley (16-2, 10-1 PAC) in the driver’s seat for the number one overall seed in the PAC’s inaugural ‘Final Five.’ The Vikings need just one win in their final two league games to clinch the top seed.
Meanwhile, Spring-Ford (13-6, 9-2 PAC) has work to do, but only needs one more win in its final two to clinch the number three seed, earning themselves a bye to the semifinals, where they are likely to meet Upper Merion.
In defeat, the Rams have shown they can play with the Vikings, after a 28-point loss on home floor in December.
These two could meet a third time, ending league play just like they did last season.
With the championship on the line.