BOYERTOWN — When the Pope John Paul II and Methacton girls basketball teams squared off in the Pioneer Athletic Conference regular season last month, the Golden Panthers rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit for a breakout victory.
When the teams renewed acquaintances Saturday afternoon in a PAC-10 Final Four semifinal, the Warriors decided turnabout was fair play.
Thanks largely to senior veterans Jenna Carroll and Kelly Glatthorn, Methacton was able to rally from a 10-point third quarter deficit and eventually turn away gallant PJP 48-44 at BASH Gymnasium.
Carroll, a 6-foot-1 center, delivered a triple double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks and Glatthorn contributed a team-high 14 points as the Liberty Division runner-up Warriors (16-5) advanced to Wednesday's league championship against two-time defending champ Spring-Ford (18-5), which dispatched Upper Perkiomen 64-18 in the earlier semifinal.
Frontier Division champ Pope John Paul II (17-4), which got a game-high 17 points from Susan Bossler, fell for the second straight year to the Warriors in the semis.
Much like last year's 58-49 win by Methacton, PJP led for a majority of the first 28 minutes — this time taking a 36-26 lead with 2:56 left in the third period when Bossler was fouled while drilling a 3-pointer from the baseline and converted the free throw for a four-point play.
"At that point, we knew we had to stay with it,' Carroll said. "We had to play with urgency.'
"We knew if we were going to win it, we had to be more aggressive on defense,' echoed Glatthorn.
The Warriors did exactly that while taking advantage of a pile of foul trouble for PJP, which was whistled for 16 fouls over the final two quarters and saw starters Bossler and Steph Petery and reserve Dahlia Wilson foul out.
"This was a tough one,' said Golden Panthers coach Dave Baker. "I knew we were aggressive, but I don't now if we were 20-fouls-in-the-second-half aggressive. We can go seven or eight deep, but after that, the experience just isn't there.'
PJP also had to make due without senior forward and team leader Ellen Chernaskey, who on Thursday was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and is out for the season.
The Golden Panthers still led 42-34 with Bossler opened the second half by following a Jenna Widdicombe miss, but they would manage just one other basket the rest of the way.
"We're just a team that never gives up, with a never-lose attitude,' Methacton coach Craig Kaminksi said. "I don't know if when they (the Golden Panthers) got up 10 they got a little comfortable and laid back a little bit, but we finally started playing the way we were capable of.'
Glatthorn, who was 16 points away from 1,000 heading into Saturday's later non-league game against Emmaus (which wasn't complete at deadline), nailed a jumper with 5:48 left that ignited a game-closing 14-2 tear by the Warriors.
Glatthorn's driving basket with 2:40 left put Methacton up to stay at 45-44, then the Warriors — who were 11-for-27 from the free throw line — had to survive some shoddy foul shooting down the stretch.
Trailing 47-44, the Golden Panthers had a couple of last-gasp efforts, but were first called for an illegal screen on the inbounds play from midcourt with 21 seconds left before seeing Lauren Dao's 3-point bit go awry with less than 10 seconds left. Methacton freshman Ryan DeOrio went 1-for-2 from the line with two seconds left for the final margin.
Freshman Jackie Cerchio matched her season high with 10 points and DeOrio scored eight points for Methacton, which won for the eighth time in its past nine games.
"It was an exact reversal from the first game this year,' Kaminski said of PJP's 61-54 win. "They (the Golden Panthers) played like they wanted it more in the second half of that game, and today we were the ones playing like we wanted it more.
"We told Kelly, Jenna and (fellow senior) Kara (Steinke) at halftime we were basically going to follow their lead. They didn't accomplish much in the first half at all. If we were going to win, it was going to be up to them, and I think we started to feed off their energy a lot in the second half.'
"We wanted to get back to the championship so bad,' Carroll said. "Our defense really picked up, Kelly and Kara had some really nice traps and we got after it more.'
Sophomore Gabby Troisi scored 11 points and Dao — sporting a shiner under her right eye suffered after taking an elbow in the face in a win over Pottsgrove Tuesday — gutted it out to score seven points and dish out three assists. ... Widdicombe had a game-high 11 rebounds for the Golden Panthers. ... Cerchio and DeOrio grabbed seven boards apiece for Methacton, which enjoyed a 40-30 advantage on the glass.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.