PHOENIXVILLE — The Spring-Ford girls received a wake-up call late in the regular season with a loss to Methacton that snapped their 41-game winning streak against Pioneer Athletic Conference opponents.
They could have hit the snooze button and gone back to sleep. Instead, they hopped right up and went to work.
And when the Rams got their chance to meet the Warriors again in Wednesday night's PAC-10 championship game at Phoenixville High School, they played as if that alarm were still loudly ringing in their heads.
They somehow managed to step their trademark pressure defense up another notch and left no loose ball unchallenged as they allowed just two points in the first quarter and eight in the half.
Then they ran away in the third quarter and built as much as a 25-point lead in the fourth on the way to a 47-35 win and their third straight title.
Sammy Stipa scored 12 and had four steals for the Rams (19-5), Maggie Locke had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Abby Beyer added 10 points, and Shelby Mueller scored nine.
Jenna Carroll topped Methacton (17-7) with 13 points and nine boards and Kelly Glatthorn scored nine.
"I was really proud of our girls,' said Spring-Ford first-year head coach Mickey McDaniel. "We worked really hard in practice. The day that we lost to Methacton, it was a burn inside of them. It could have gone either way. They wanted to go back to work. We played a good game against Perk Valley, a really good game against Cumberland Valley, and a good game (in the PAC-10 semis) against Upper Perk.'
"It was definitely a wake-up call for all of us,' Stipa said concerning the 47-43 home loss to Methacton two weeks ago. "Our program is known for our defense. That's what defines us as a team. They're great competition. They always come out strong. It was definitely a challenge.'
"That really hit us hard,' added Mueller. "We wanted to come out with a lot of intensity. We wanted to come back as three-year champions.'
Spring-Ford took the early lead on a jumper by Amy Roth and a free throw by Locke, who did not play in the loss to the Warriors. Then Carroll went inside and scooped in a basket. But Methacton did not score again until early in the second quarter — a span of six minutes — and the Rams quickly took control.
Locke scored off an offensive rebound, Stipa scored on a breakaway off a steal by Emily Walker, and Beyer hit two jumpers. That made it 11-2 at the end of the quarter, one in which the Warriors turned the ball over 11 times while shooting 1-for-10 from the floor.
"They played tremendous defense,' said McDaniel. "One of our goals tonight was to win everything ... 50-50 balls and every loose ball.'
"They used their trademark defense, turned it up a little higher than the last time and we shied away from it,' said Warrior coach Craig Kaminski. "The slow start ... two points in the quarter, eight at halftime. You're not going to win that way. "
Methacton showed some life early in the second quarter as Glatthorn scored off a steal, Tejarra Ellis made two from the line, and Jackie Cerchio grabbed a missed free throw and scored to bring Methacton to within 14-8. But the Rams ran off six points to end the half with a 20-8 lead, with leading scorers Carroll and Glatthorn owning just two points apiece on a combined 2-for-12 shooting.'
"They did a great job of taking our two major threats away,' said Kaminski. "We were panicking. We were not going to the basket. We weren't attacking the basket. The last time we were attacking them. Tonight we weren't. We weren't squaring up.'
"You have to do your best to take them out of their game,' said McDaniel. "You can't let them get on a roll and get more and more confidence.'
The third quarter was more of the same as Locke and Stipa each scored five and the Rams rocketed to a 38-14 advantage. They upped it to 42-17 early in the fourth quarter before Carroll and Galtthorn combined for 14 the rest of the way to make the game look a lot closer than it really was.
"Congratulations to them,' added Kaminski. "They're a great program and coach Mickey McDaniel does a great job with them.'
The Rams eventually forced 23 turnovers and held their opponents to 27 percent shooting from the floor.
"We tried to rotate a lot, tried to get steals and get turnovers,' said Mueller. "We had a lot of confidence. We were really excited. It was a fight for everything. Coach always wants us to dive on the floor and push ourselves.'
The third straight title felt especially good for Stipa — who has started since she was a freshman — and Mueller, who was first off the bench as a sophomore and a starter the last two years.'
"It's just a little bit better because it's my senior year,' said Stipa.
"It feels good because I feel like a leader and I led my team here,' added Mueller.
Beyer was a big part of the fast start as she scored eight of the Rams' first 14 points on 3-for-3 shooting. ... Carroll had four blocks and Mueller two. ... Julia Roshelli had three assists and five rebounds for the winners. ... Six of Locke's rebounds were on the offensive end as the Rams wound up with a 28-26 edge on the boards. ... Both teams will be back in action in the District 1-AAAA playoffs Saturday, with fourth seed Spring-Ford hosting 29th seed Chester and 12th seed Methacton hosting 21st seed Cheltenham.
Methacton 2 6 8 19 - 35
Spring-Ford 11 9 18 9 - 47
Methacton: Carroll 4 4-5 13, Cerchio 2 2-2 6, DeOrio 1 2-3 4, Ellis 0 3-4 3, Glatthorn 3 2-2 9, Steinke 0 0-0 0, Szkarodnik 0 0-0 0, Totals 10 13-36 35.
Spring-Ford: Beyer 4 1-3 10, Dougherty 1 0-0 2, Gill 0 0-0 0, Haney 0 0-0 0, Hynes 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 0-1 0, Locke 4 2-3 10, Mueller 4 0-0 9, Nugent 0 0-0 0, Roshelli 0 0-0 0, Roth 1 0-0 2, Stipa 5 2-2 12, Wagner 0 0-0 0, Walker 0 2-2 2, Totals 19 7-11 47.3-point goals: Carroll, Glatthorn; Beyer, Mueller.