Methacton shocked the Pioneer Athletic Conference girls basketball world when the Warriors knocked off two-time defending league champ Spring-Ford 13 days ago, snapping the Rams' 41-game winning streak against league competition.
In order to bring home their first PAC-10 crown, the Warriors will have to do it again.
Liberty Division champion Spring-Ford (18-5) and Liberty runner-up Methacton (16-6) square off for the third time this season Wednesday at 7 p.m at Phoenixville, this time with the league championship on the line.
It will be the third straight title-game showdown between the Rams and Warriors; Spring-Ford won 62-33 in 2012 and 53-23 last year.
But with Methacton coming away with a 47-43 victory at Spring-Ford Jan. 30 (after hanging tough before falling 50-40 in the initial meeting in December), no one should be expecting a blowout this time around.
"The biggest thing is the confidence that the girls gained in that win,' Warriors coach Craig Kaminski said. "In years past we hung with them in some games for a half or so and in others we were blown out right out of the gate. The first game (this year), we were down three with the ball with three minutes left and then the bad turnovers came and we fell apart. The second time that never happened. The girls were able to stay composed and finish the job.'
"Both games with Methacton have been good PAC-10 games, and there's no reason to believe this one will be any different,' Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel said. "There are a number of seniors on both teams who will be playing in their last league game, so you know we will see their best.'
Senior guard Kelly Glatthorn (13.9 ppg.) and senior forward Jenna Carroll (12.7) have been mainstays in Kaminski's lineup for four years, with veteran senior guard Kara Steinke, senior wing Amber Szkadarnik and promising freshman guard Ryan DeOrio (8.0) completing the starting five for Kaminski. Freshman Jackie Cerchio has developed into a threat off the bench, with Tae Ellis and Sarah Picozzi rounding out Kaminski's rotation.
Glatthorn scored a team-high 14 points and the 6-foot-1 Carroll turned in a triple double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks as the Warriors rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to turn away Frontier champion Pope John Paul II 48-44 in Saturday's semifinal.
"They have a lot of heart and a never-give-up or don't-want-to-lose attitude,' Kaminksi said. "Kelly, Jenna, Kara and Amber have a lot of experience and have been to three PAC-10 Final Fours, District 1 playoffs and the state playoffs last year. In the semifinal game vs. PJP, we challenged them at the half to lead us to the finals. They took it upon themselves in the second half to not lose that game and get us to the finals. They just do not want to lose and will do everything possible to the last second to make sure that does not happen.'
Still, taking down the defending District 1-AAAA and PIAA champion Rams is no easy task.
Spring-Ford has featured a typically suffocating defense and is limiting opponents to 33.3 points per game this year (and 29.4 against PAC-10 competition).
Senior guard Sammy Stipa (13.2 ppg.), senior forward Shelby Mueller (12.1) and junior forward Maggie Locke (8.1) are the Rams' top offensive threats, with guards Julia Roshelli and Amy Roth completing the starting five and junior Abby Beyer and sophomore Molly Hynes heading a deep bench that includes no fewer than four freshmen.
Spring-Ford routed Upper Perkiomen 64-18 in Saturday's semifinal, opening a 34-2 lead over the first 12 minutes and getting 18 points from Mueller, 10 points from Locke and nine points from Stipa. It was the school-record 100th career victory for the Rams' senior class. The 5-foot-6 Stipa is six points shy of 1,200 for her career.
"Sammy, Shelby and (fellow senior) Kaity (Dougherty) have been solid leaders for us this season,' McDaniel said. "Obviously graduating the five seniors who demonstrated tremendous leadership last year, we knew we had to have our seniors this year step up and take over that role. Sammy, Shelby and Kaity have done that and this is one of the reasons for our success this year. They have great attitudes, they've been extremely hard workers and have a competitive fire about them that is a great example for all in our program.'
"They are a great basketball team,' Kaminksi said of the Rams, who are ranked sixth in Class AAAA in the latest PennLive.com state rankings. "They play with such great instinct. That's something you just have, and that's tough to coach against. The biggest thing when playing them is trying to avoid turnovers that lead to points.'
Should the Warriors be able to do that, they'll have a shot at unseating Spring-Ford. If they can't, the Rams most likely will be cutting down the nets for the third straight year.
"The fact that it is the championship game adds another layer to the rivalry,' Kaminksi said. "And now that it is for the third year in a row makes it even more exciting. We are trying to get our program to where they are. As the saying goes, to be the best you have to beat the best.'
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.