FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — Jenna Carroll's 1,000th career point could not have come at a much better time in Wednesday night's District 1-AAAA girls basketball state qualifier contest. Methacton's lead over Souderton had dwindled from 16 points to just five with five minutes remaining when Carroll popped out into the open on the right wing and swished a 3-pointer.
That clutch basket gave the momentum back to the Warriors, who rode it to a 45-35 win and their second straight PIAA Tournament berth and third in the school's history. Carroll finished with 13 points — the exact number that she needed to reach the milestone — and 10 rebounds. Kelly Glatthorn scored 15 and Jackie Cerchio added eight points for 12th-seeded Methacton (20-8), which will play for ninth place in the district on Saturday at 7 p.m. at second-seeded Garnet Valley, a 41-33 winner over Central Bucks South.
The loss ended the season for the 17th-seeded Indians, who got 10 points and 12 rebounds from Sarah Derstein and eight points apiece from Allison Gallagher and Devon Beohm.
Methacton held a 24-14 lead at the half after falling behind by a 6-0 score after five minutes and upped the advantage to 30-14 a little more than two minutes into the third quarter. But Souderton clawed back to within 35-24 heading into the final period and two free throws by Derstein and a pair of 3-point bombs by Beohm cut the margin to five with plenty of time left.
But Carroll calmly dropped in her 3-pointer for her last points of the night for a 40-32 advantage with 4:41 to go.
"It just worked out,' she said. "The ' 3' felt right and I took it.'
"It worked perfectly,' said Warrior coach Craig Kaminski. "We finally ran a set and she popped out.'
Methacton ran off five more points after that on 4-for-4 free throw shooting by Glatthorn and one from the line by Kara Steinke to wrap up a state appearance a week from Friday against either the District 3 or District 12 champion.
"Incredible,' said Carroll. "Third time in school history. We're so proud. We really wanted it. We really wanted to get back to states. We had the players back. We had the experience.'
"They've come a long way this year after graduating a player like Kelsey Watson,' added Kaminski. "I'm extremely proud of them.'
The victory did not come easily against a team that had upset higher-seeded Boyertown and Ridley along the way. The Warriors missed their first six shots and turned the ball over four times in the opening five minutes while Gallagher, Beohm, and Derstein each put in a basket for a 6-0 jump.
Then Cerchio and Tejarra Ellis came off the bench to spark a run of 12 points for the hosts as Cerchio scored on a drive and a jumper for Methacton's first points of the night and Ellis came up with two steals.
"Cerchio and Ellis, down the stretch, have really come off the bench for us, and they're both looking to score,' said Kaminski. "That gives us more than five players who can score.'
Then Carroll scored off a drive and knocked down a 3-pointer off a pass from Glatthorn for a 9-6 lead after a quarter.
Kaminski thought that his team's slow start might have been a combination of its concentration on defense and a little rust.
"We did a nice job rebounding,' he said. "I'm extremely pleased with the defense. We knew Gallagher and (Bianca) Picard must be shut down as much as we could. We were fortunate in the beginning. If they made some of those shots, we're out of the game. I don't think there were nerves. It might have been a little rust.'
"I think we haven't played a lot of ' man' this season,' Carroll added concerning the defense. "But I think we did a good job.'
The Warriors appeared to be on the way to a rout when Cerchio scored on a drive and a fast break and Steinke put in a layup off a steal from Glatthorn for their 30-14 lead with 5:44 left in the third quarter. But the Indians went on an 18-7 run before Carroll's key basket — her first of the second half — turned the tide and gave her the coveted 1,000 points.
"I was happy to get it on a 3,' said the 6-foot-1 senior. "That's cool. I think the whole team was focused. I'm just glad it worked out. I can't thank my coaches and teammates enough.'
"The rebounds and her defense ... she's a force inside,' Kaminski said of Carroll. "She's like a coach on the floor. It's an honor to coach her.'