RIDLEY — With the Souderton girls basketball team's season and her high school career in danger of ending Saturday afternoon, Bianca Picard was certain of one thing — the fate of both were going to be in the senior's hands.
"I've never been the type of person to execute — I guess you could say — when I needed to," Picard said. "But I think my senior year, I've been able to fill the big shoes and I think being a senior, I think I needed to take that shot. I needed to do something."
With the 17th-seeded Indians trailing host No. 9 Ridley 50-49 nearing the last minute of their District 1-AAAA 9th/10th Place quarterfinal, Picard launched a deep three-pointer from the right wing that found nothing but twine for a two-point Big Red edge. A couple defensive stops and a few free throws later, Souderton kept its postseason going with 57-52 victory over the Green Raiders.
"I was like ' I don't think this is going to go in,'" Picard said. "And then finally when I saw it leave my hands, I watched the rotation and right when it went in I was like 'Oh my God, we're up, we're up, we're up. We're not losing to them now.''
Picard was one of four Indians (18-7) in double figures, leading the team with 14 points, seven coming in the fourth quarter, as Souderton advances to face No. 12 Methacton — which beat No. 13 Penn Wood 53-51 in overtime Saturday — in the 9/10 semifinals Wednesday at Methacton. Winner clinches a berth in the PIAA Tournament.
"We made plays in the last couple minutes of the game, that was it," Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. "For the majority of the second half, they really outplayed us. That's, I think, one of the hardest working teams I've seen this year. They really, really work. They earn every point that the get. And the outplayed us in the second half. And really had momentum, to the point where I think everybody on our side was questioning whether or not we were going to be able to get it done.
"And Allison (Gallagher) hits a big three, Devon (Boehm) hits a big three, Bianca hits one. Hannah Bergey gets a great offensive rebound on the foul shot. And we made enough foul shots down the stretch. But, ultimately, this was a matter some of our kids stepping up and making big plays and finishing big shots in the fourth quarter.
Wednesday' matchup with the Warriors is the fourth time in the last two season Souderton has a chance to earn a spot in states. The Indians have come up short in each of the previous three, the last coming in last Wednesday's loss to Mount St. Joseph in the district second round.
"I think we feel as though we belong in the mix of the top 10 in the district," Carroll said. "But it means nothing if we don't go out and prove it."
Boehm had three three-pointers and finished with 12 points, while Gallagher and Sarah Derstein — who fouled out with 3:26 in the fourth — each scored 11 points.
Bree Mulhern had a game-high 22 points and Mary Kate Rumbaugh add 13 points for Ridley, which ended the third quarter with a 14-4 run to go into the fourth with a 45-41 lead.
A Boehm three and a Derstein putback had the Indians back ahead 45-44 in the final quarter before Taylor Mulhern's triple put the Green Raiders up two. After a Gallagher three, Bree Mulhern scored off a drive for a 50-49 Ridley lead. Picard — who played with four fouls in the fourth — finally put Souderton up for good, burying a trey from a healthy distance beyond the arc.
"I think she's thrives in those moments," said Carroll of Picard. "I think she wants to ball in her hands. She want to get it done for her team. And I think it takes a special kind of player to look for that and have the courage to take it. And she took it and her body language just screamed, ' This is going in.' You could tell she was shooting it with confidence."
Bree Mulhern tried to pull Ridley even, but her shot on a drive came up short. After a few Green Raider fouls to get Souderton into the bonus, Picard hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 31.8 seconds remaining for a 54-50 advantage.
The Indians forced a turnover on Ridley's next possession and Boehm was fouled at 17.9 seconds. She hit the first of the 1-and-1, but missed on the second, however, Bergey came up with the rebound to cut a few ticks of the clock. Two Kristin Saraceni free throws at 7.6 seconds got Ridley within three, but Picard put the game away with a pair from the line with 2.6 left.
"When there's two minutes left in the game and we were down two, everyone was kind of worried — especially the seniors — like, 'Oh, my God, this cold be my last game,"' Picard said. "After Allison hit that three to put us up one, it was more like it gave us more hope, like ' Come on guys, this isn't the end.' And everybody stepped up and everybody wanted it."
Ridley jumped out to a 8-2 lead before a 15-2 run by the Indians had Big Red up 17-10 after back-to-back threes from Boehm and Picard. A Bree Mulhern three — her third of the quarter — and a Rumbaugh basket off a drive got the Green Raiders to within 17-15 before Derstein found Gallagher for two and a four-point lead heading to the second.
Katie O'Connor's three gave Souderton its largest advantage at 27-18, but cut the margin to three at 30-27 after Bree Mulhern drove inside for a bucket. A Bergey free throw at 1:33 gave Big Red a 31-27 lead at half.
Souderton went up 37-31 in the third on a Gallagher basket, but Ridley scored the next 10 points — Bree Mulhern three's point play at 2:36 putting the home side ahead 41-37. Souderton pulled to within two twice late in the quarter, only for Rumbaugh and Bree Mulhern to answer each time, the later's basket giving the Green Raiders a 45-41 advantage entering the fourth.
District 1-AAAA 9th/10th Place Quarterfinals
(17) Souderton 57, (9) Ridley 52
Souderton 19 12 10 16 — 57
Ridley 15 12 18 7 — 52
Souderton: Bianca Picard 3 6-6 14 Devon Boehm 4 1-2 12 Allison Gallagher 5 0-0 11 Sarah Derstein 4 3-4 11 Katie O'Connor 2 2-3 7 Hannah Bergey 0 2-4 2 Totals 18 14-19 57.
Ridley: Bree Mulhern 8 3-3 22 Mary Kate Rumbaugh 4 5-6 13 Kristin Saraceni 2 2-2 7 Taylor Mulhern 2 0-0 6 Hailee Mayer 1 0-0 2 Isabella Hamlin 1 0-2 2 Totals 19 10-13 52.
Three-pointers: S-Boehm 3, Picard 2, Gallagher, O'Connor; R-B. Mulhern 3, T. Mulhern 2, Saraceni.
Follow Mike Cabrey on Twitter @mpcabrey.