File photo by Barry Taglieber Chris Talley has guided Spring-Ford’s boys basketball team to its first-ever PIAA State Tournament playoff appearance.
File photo by Barry Taglieber Chris Talley has guided Spring-Ford's boys basketball team to its first-ever PIAA State Tournament playoff appearance. The Rams play Saturday night against Cedar Crest at Milton Hershey High School at 6:30 p.m. (Barry Taglieber)

It's been a season of firsts for the Spring-Ford boys basketball team.

The Rams tipped off their season with a first-year coach in Chris Talley.

They enjoyed their first 9-0 start in school history.

They brought home their first Pioneer Athletic Conference title in a decade.

They earned their first state tournament berth.

They notched their first 24-victory campaign in program history.

And Saturday, Spring-Ford hopes to continue that trend with its first PIAA victory, as the District 1 No. 7 seed Rams (24-4) take on District 3 runner-up Cedar Crest (23-5) at Reading High School at 6 p.m. in a Class AAAA tourney opener.

"Gaining a state berth was an initial goal,' Talley said. "As that goal became a reality we set new goals. We are no longer satisfied with being here. The kids have earned the right to be a state playoff team. We want to keep this thing going and the only way we can do that is to win.'

Spring-Ford has piled up the wins thanks to a senior-heavy rotation led by forward Nick Stanek (17.8 ppg), who erupted for a career-best 31 points in last Saturday's 65-51 victory over Central Bucks West in the District 1 seventh-place game.

Guard Drew Kakareka (12.3 ppg, 51 3-pointers) and forward Gary Hopkins (11.3 ppg) are the other top offensive threats for the Rams, whose losses are to teams — Pennsbury (twice), Wilson and defending state champ Lower Merion — with a combined 91-20 record that are all still playing in states.


After going 13-0 in PAC-10 play and eventually defeating Methacton 56-48 for its first league championship since 2004, Spring-Ford came away with District 1 tourney victories over Kennett (72-66) and Harriton (61-48) to qualify for states.

"We have progressed in all areas of the game,' Talley said. "Offensively we knew we were going to have options, which is a credit to the hard work the kids have put in during the offseason. Defensively we keep getting better and are trusting each other more on the court. Teams have tried everything against us and the kids have responded.'

Talley hopes that is the case against the Lancaster-Lebanon League champion Falcons, who have had a similarly historic winter in qualifying for states for the first time since 1989.

After coming away with a thrilling 49-47 district semifinal victory over Central York on Andrew Eudy's runner off a fullcourt inbounds pass from Evan Horn with 1.8 seconds left, Cedar Crest led York by 14 points late in the third quarter and 11 points with a little more than seven minutes left in regulation in the final before falling 54-52 in overtime.

Eudy, a 6-6 senior forward, averages 10.4 points per game, while sophomore guard Evan Horn (10.0), junior guard Josh Bucher (7.9) and junior forward Nick Miller (7.4) are also key cogs in a balanced attack for a defensive-minded squad.

"They pressure the ball really well and play outstanding team defense,' Talley said.

The winner of Saturday's game advances to Wednesday's Round of 16 contest against the winner of Saturday's first-rounder between District 1 No. 3 seed Conestoga and District 12 No. 3 seed LaSalle College.

The Class AAAA quarterfinals take place Saturday, March 15, with the semifinals slated for Wednesday, March 19, and the title game taking place Saturday, March 22, at Hershey's Giant Center at 8 p.m.

Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD