POTTSTOWN — For the second straight season, Perkiomen School and Barrack Hebrew Academy squared off for the Tri-County League girls basketball championship Wednesday night at Hill School.
On the shoulders of senior Nicole Pupillo, junior Destinee Astheimer, and sophomores Kristen Burdo and Stephanie Falcone, the Panthers defeated the Cougars 47-27, earning their second straight TCL title and completing an undefeated record in the league.
Burdo recorded a team-high 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
"As a team, we started working together really well,' Burdo said. "We moved the ball well and constantly fought down low for rebounds.'
Falcone had 10 points while Pupillo added eight points, five steals and two assists. Astheimer scored seven points and grabbed 11 rebounds on the night.
For head coach Rebecca Trattenberg and Barrack Hebrew, this was a game that the Cougars had been fighting for all season.
"We wanted this game so badly.' Trattenberg said. "We played a really strong game and I couldn't be more proud of the girls this season.'
In their first matchup in December, Perkiomen routed Barrack Hebrew 72-31 before them again, 57-28, on Jan. 23.
"The first two times we played them, we lost really bad games,' Trattenberg said. "But tonight I felt like we came out and played really well against a tough team.'
After the first quarter, Perkiomen School (19-3) led Barrack 13-2. Burdo led the Panthers' charge with five points and four rebounds in the quarter. Pupillo added three points.
"This wasn't our best game,' Perkiomen School head coach Randy Littlefield said. "We weren't hitting our shots, so we had to fight through it against a team that fights back. They don't lay down.'
Barrack found a spark in the second quarter as Sophia Shoulson dropped six of her 18 points '' including a lay-up with five seconds left '' as the Cougars (19-3) outscored the Panthers 12-11 to cut it to a 24-14 halftime lead for Perkiomen.
"We came out in the first half a bit shaky,' said Burdo. "But in the second half we were able to get a groove together and work in rhythm as a team.'
The Panthers found their rhythm early in the third quarter thanks in part to their defense holding their opponent to just six points. Astheimer erased what looked to be an easy lay-up for Shoulson, giving the Panthers momentum throughout the quarter.
Falcone scored five points in the quarter including a 3-pointer off an assist from Pupillo with a minute to go.
"As a player, some nights the shots just don't fall,' said Pupillo, a starter since her freshmen year. "In my time here, I've learned that the little things like hustle and smart passes can be just as important to get the team rolling.'
Perkiomen School rolled into the fourth quarter with a 37-20 lead, and showed no desire to let go.
Burdo scored the first points of the quarter nearly two minutes in off a rebound and putback. Barrack Academy fought hard as Shoulson added six more points and Dria Gutierrez scored three of her seven points, but the deficit was too large to overcome.
"I've been doing this a long time,' said Littlefield. "And after having won last year, we knew what we had to do to get back here. I'm very proud of the way these girls played.'
Aside from winning the championship in two of her four seasons, Pupillo will always value the time she spent and the lessons she learned at Perkiomen School.
"This whole experience of being a player since my freshmen year has really transformed me in my time here,' said Pupillo. "I've loved it here all along. I've learned so much, not just about myself as a basketball player, but also about being a leader.'
Perkiomen School will compete in the first round of the state tournament on Friday against Springside-Chestnut Hill.
Follow Mercury staff intern Thomas Nash on Twitter @Thomas_Nash10
Perkiomen School 47
Barrack Hebrew 27
Barrack Hebrew: Einhorn: 0 0-0 0, Shapira 0 0-0 0, Steru 0 0-0 0, Gutierrez 3 1-5 7, Malomet 0 0-0 0, Raikin 0 0-0 0, Abel 0 0-0 0, Shoulson 7 4-7 18, Glickman 0 0-0 0, Chevlin 1 0-4 2. Totals: 11 5-16 27.
Perkiomen School: Gallagher 1 0-0 2, Burdo 7 4-10 18, Tang 0 0-0 0, Falcone 4 0-0 10, Astheimer 1 5-10 7, Pupillo 3 2-5 8, Albanese 1 0-0 2, Vetter 0 0-2 0. Totals: 17 11-27 47.
Barrack Hebrew 2 12 6 7 - 27
Perkiomen School 13 11 13 10 - 47
3-point goals: Falcone 2.