UPPER PROVIDENCE- Boyertown's season would not have been over with a loss at Pope John Paul II on Monday night, but its chances of making it to the Pioneer Athletic Conference girls basketball Final Four certainly would have taken a huge hit.

So the Bears dug in on defense at the end and allowed the Golden Panthers just two points over the final five minutes while scoring 10 of their own for a thrilling 45-40 interdivision win.

Abby Kapp led Boyertown (6-3, 15-3) — battling with Methacton for the second playoff spot from the Liberty Division — with 15 points, Maria Garofolo scored 12 and pulled in a game-high eight rebounds, and senior Dee Terry (10 points) led the charge at the end with a big 3-point basket, an equally important steal, and two game-clinching free throws. Gabby Troisi topped Frontier Division leader PJP (8-2, 13-3) with 12 points and Jenna Widdicombe added 10 points and seven rebounds.

Dee Terry had 10 points for Boyertown as the Bears remained in the hunt for the No. 2 spot in the Liberty Division with a victory over Pope John Paul II on
Dee Terry had 10 points for Boyertown as the Bears remained in the hunt for the No. 2 spot in the Liberty Division with a victory over Pope John Paul II on Monday. (Mercury File Photo) (Ric Webb)

"I just knew at the end I had to step up,' said Terry. "Everyone stepped up. It was either win this game or not be where we want to be.'

"It was an exciting game,' said Boyertown head coach Jason Bieber. "It was fun to watch. Obviously, Dee stepped up there at the end. She hit that big 3-pointer to give us the lead for the first time at the end and got that huge steal against (Susan) Bossler. She really showed senior leadership.'

A back-and-forth first half ended with the Bears up by a 23-20 score. But the Golden Panthers, who have already clinched their division, tied it on a basket inside by Widdicombe and a free throw by Lauren Dao (7 points, 4 rebounds). Then Bossler (9 points) knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner for a 26-23 advantage and a score off an offensive rebound by Widdicombe and two from the line by Bossler completed a 10-point run for a 30-23 lead.

But the Bears came right back with six straight as Kapp scored on an offensive board, Marie Valenti dribbled the length of the court for a layup, and Garofolo put back a miss.

The PJP lead was at 38-35 with five minutes left before Valenti cut it to two with a free throw. Then Terry lofted a 3-point basket from beyond the top of the circle for a 39-38 edge with 2:40 to go.

Dao came back with a driving basket to put the hosts back on top with 1:40 left. But Garofolo found Kapp underneath for a layup and Terry stole the ball and fired a long pass to Garofolo for a lay-in and a 43-40 lead with 53 seconds remaining.

Then PJP missed a pair at the line and Terry was fouled and made two to wrap up the win.

"Our half-court defense really picked up,' said Terry. "We were missing easy box-outs and they were getting the rebounds and we were fouling them. And we kind of figured out their play to get 3-point shots. We adjusted on defense and that helped the offensive side.'

The Bears held leading scorer Bossler to just eight shots on the night.

"One of our keys was to not let her set her feet tonight and we did that,' said Bieber. "They're a great team. They're coached very well. It was a great battle.'

The Panthers — who wound up with a 37-24 rebounding advantage — hurt themselves by shooting just 1-for-7 from the line in the last quarter and missed 18 charity tosses on the night.

"We frustrated ourselves,' said PJP coach Dave Baker. "If you go 13-for-31 from the foul line, you have nobody to blame but yourself. That's a tough one to take.

"Foul line ... missed two shots. Foul line ... missed two shots. We're young. It's a learning experience. But to get to this point ... it hits them very hard. They've got to let this go.'

NOTES

The Bears also did not do themselves any favors by missing 11-of-22 tries from the line. ... Boyertown turned the ball over 12 times to PJP's 20. ... Kapp and Troisi each added six rebounds. ... Boyertown came into the night with one more loss than second-place Methacton, which will visit undefeated division leader Spring-Ford on Thursday and then host Boyertown on Saturday.