VILLANOVA - Spring-Ford's swarming defense has consistently denied opposing offenses and outside shooters during their recent years of success.
But the Rams could not stop the shooting touch of North Penn in the District 1-AAAA girls basketball championship game Feb. 28 at The Pavilion on the campus of Villanova University.
Paced by senior guard Vicky Tumasz's game-high 27 points with three 3-point field goals, North Penn recorded a 63-51 victory in the title game.
The Maidens (24-3) avenged a 46-33 setback against Spring-Ford in the championship game two years ago and denied the Rams (23-6) their goal of winning a third consecutive district crown.
Freshman guard Sam Carangi buried all 11 of her points in the first half with three treys as North Penn took a 13-6 lead after the first quarter and 32-21 at halftime.
Both teams entered the PIAA State Tournament March 7. Spring-Ford faced Red Lion, the fifth seed from District, at Coatesville. North Penn was matched against Lebanon, the No. 7 team from District 3, at Plymouth-Whitemarsh.
"I mean, they are a great shooting team and hard to defend,' said Spring-Ford senior guard Sammy Stipa. "We didn't come out strong. We just weren't together as we should have been and that got us in foul trouble.'
Stipa finished with a team-high 19 points that included 6-for-6 foul shooting and three 3-pointers. She also had five rebounds, one assist and one steal while battling a bad cold.
Senior forward Shelby Mueller turned in a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Rams pounded the Maidens, 35-22, on the backboards, including 19-5 on the offensive glass. Mueller also had two blocked shots, two assists and one steal on her line.
Spring-Ford won its three previous district playoff contests with herculean comebacks in nailbiters. But the Rams were unabled to pull it off this time as North Penn erased an early 6-3 deficit with a 10-0 run in a three-minute stretch and proceeded to roll from there.
The Maidens shot 17-for-39 fromt he floor with 7-for-18 accuracy from long distance. Spring-Ford shot 19-for-64 from the field with 3-for-19 from 3-point land.
At the foul line, North Penn shot 22-for-29 to Spring-Ford's 10-for-13 at the charity stripe. The Rams turned the ball over 13 times but forced the Maidens into 19 miscues at the other end of the court.
Junior forward Maggie Locke finished with 12 points and eight rebounds for the Rams plus three steals and two assists.
Tumasz and senior forward Erin Maher are the only two players returning from the ballclub that faced Spring-Ford two years ago. Both leaders played complete games. Tumasz, a 1,000-point scorer like Stipa, played 31 minutes and also had four steals, two blocks, three rebounds and one assist to her credit with 8-for-17 shooting from a variety of spots on the floor.
Maher checked in with 32 minutes that included 10 points, eight boards and four assists. Freshman Irisa Ye gave coach Maggie deMarteleire's Maidens a solid lift off the bench with 12 points in 15 minutes that included 6-for-10 shooting at the foul line and a fourth player with double figures. North Penn won its 11th straight game and halted Spring-Ford's eight-game winning streak.
"We spent pretty much of the time fighting back,' said Stipa. "We fought back, and I am proud of the team that we got this far. It's definitely really hard for us seniors. The hardest thing to do is win three championships in a row. Everyone is out there to get you. A lot of people on our team didn't have the experience. They didn't play. It's been a challenge.'
"We always had got there (on defense),' said Mueller. "But with their speed, they get down the floor really fast. Our shots just weren't falling, I guess.
"We knew coming into the game they would be good shooting. We were boxing out. We practiced that. We had to rotate, but we also fouled too much. They were just crazy on the 3-point line. We put our hands up, but they came out strong.'
"The journey is a challenge,' said Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel. "There are no guarantees at league, districts or states. You've got to take one game at a time. They were the better team tonight.'
McDaniel praised the effort by Tumasz.
"I was really impressed with Vicky,' he said. "She plays the game with poise. There is not shot she's afraid to take. Whatever it is, she has the confidence to take it, and Maggie has confidence in her to take it. We wanted to give her less touches.'
Spring-Ford planned to regroup and refocus on making a strong run in defense of its state championship from a year ago.