Monday, December 31, 2012

BOYS BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Target suits Methacton just fine

By Jeff Stover

There’s an unavoidable circumstance that comes with a championship finish by any sports program.
“Target on the back” syndrome: A condition foisted upon any team back in action one year after putting together a title season.
The Methacton boys basketball team is facing that situation this winter, within 10 months of posting its first-ever finish atop the Pioneer Athletic Conference. But to their credit, the Warriors are acquitting themselves nobly with one month of play into the record books.
The defending PAC-10 champs are off to a flying start that surpasses even the 7-2 mark they ran up to kick off the 2011-12 season. They came away from a two-day shootout at Ridley a near-perfect 8-1 — this by a program that had to reconfigure its roster after seeing eight players graduate this past spring.
“I had confidence we have a good team,” head coach Jeff Derstine said, “but we had only two returning players.”
That twosome — Brendan Casper and Matt Forrest, both seniors and forwards — were joined by four other classmates and a crew of underclassmen who performed well for the junior-varsity team. They’ve meshed quite well since the start of practices in mid-November ... well enough, in fact to be currently riding a six-game win streak that includes a 3-0 start in the PAC-10.
“We were looking to Brendan for leadership,” Derstine said of his team’s leading scorer, whose 22.8 points-per-game average ranks second in The Mercury’s coverage area to Owen J. Roberts’ Matt Crider. “At the same time, we have young guys who did good at the junior-varsity level and feel they have something to prove. And we’ve been getting contributions from others.”
Forrest has been averaging 11.1 ppg in complement to Casper’s big numbers. Other players like junior forward Zach Jenkins and sophomore guards Justin Ardman and Sean Mann, have played big at both ends of the court.
Along with them, junior guard Joe Ruhl has been a scoring force from three-point range — all but six of his 39 markers have come from the far side of the arc — and senior guard Anthony O’Brien has been a solid passer dishing off assists.
“We’re playing well, finishing games off,” Derstine noted. “Our fourth-quarter play has been solid.”
Methacton’s only loss thus far was to Souderton in its third outing of the season, 51-43. That stands as the lowest point production for an offense averaging 59.5 points per game, and the fourth-highest total for a defense spotting opponents 46 points on average.
“They are a really good team,” Derstine said of the Big Red, a former rival when Methacton was a member of the Suburban One League. “We didn’t shoot particularly well in that game. They were getting points out of transition and defending us well.
“There were quite a few things we identified from that game. We need to play aggressively on offense, attacking the offensive boards. We also need to fight, to keep working.”
That mantra is one Derstine and his coaching staff will continue to drill on the players as they head into the meat of their PAC-10 schedule in January. Games with Boyertown (Jan. 3) and Pottstown (Jan. 5) will precede a Jan. 10 visit by Pope John Paul II, in what could shape up as a duel between unbeaten PAC-10 division leaders provided both clubs maintain their winning ways.
“Our approach is to try and get better as the season goes on,” Derstine said. “I think the guys have bought into that approach. They’re coachable, trying to get better every day.
“We’re playing well now, but it’s still early.”
While there were a few bright spots on the local basketball scene, the area’s boys programs ended up on the short side in more holiday tournaments than on the high side. And that ended up a contributing factor in a composite 10-12 mark in the tourney flurry staged the latter part of last week.
Methacton and Spring-Ford, both participating in holiday tournaments, swept their two opponents. Behind them was Boyertown, whose bid to emerge a champion in its home-floor tourney was quashed by Pennridge in Friday’s title game.
Five other area programs (Owen J. Roberts, Perkiomen Valley, Phoenixville, Pope John Paul II, Upper Perkiomen) had similar 1-1 showings. But in all those instances, the wins came in consolation-round games.
Perkiomen School (3-3) went into the winter holiday break with a two-game losing streak — that after winning three straight. ... Daniel Boone (4-5) has a three-game slide following a three-win run. ... Owen J. Roberts (3-6) has won two of three after a 1-5 start to the season. ... With victories in the consolation games of their holiday tournaments, Perkiomen Valley and Upper Perkiomen (both 3-6) put the brakes on four-game losing streaks. ... Spring-Ford (6-3) answered successive losses prior to the winter holiday break with its sweep in the Strath Haven tournament.

GIRLS BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Bears gaining inspiration from injured Mullen

By Darryl Grumling

Though Brooke Mullen won’t likely be able to see any on-court action during this season, the senior is nonetheless an integral part of Boyertown’s team.
Mullen, a two-time Pioneer Athletic Conference first team selection and key element on the Bears’ PAC-10 championship squads in 2009-10 and 2010-11, was eagerly anticipating her fourth year as a starter.
Unfortunately, she suffered a knee injury in a late October tournament on the Bears’ home court. In a cruel irony, an MRI the following day — Oct. 29, when Hurricane Sandy was ravaging the area and beyond — revealed a torn ACL in her left knee.
Mullen underwent surgery in November, and faces a six-to-nine month rehab period before she can get back onto the court.
“The toughest part is that I can’t be out there contributing to the team,” she admitted. “It’s not so much about being able to play for personal reasons, but about not being able to play with my teammates.”
Still, Mullen has made her presence felt for the Bears, who are off to a 7-2 start after bringing home their fourth straight Bear Holiday Classic title Friday.
Similar to former Bears starter Krista Schauder — who missed her senior campaign last year due to a knee injury — Mullen still suits up with the squad and serves as an inspirational leader.
“She’s definitely a big part of the team,” Boyertown coach Jason Bieber said. “We gave her a role, and I told her she’d be like a ‘student/coach’ this year to try and help the kids out, and convey to them all of the knowledge she has.
“She’s at all our practices, and she’s a leader both in the locker room and on the bench. She’s been real positive in helping out when she can.”
Mullen has also used a positive outlook to kick-start her rehab process as she works to return to the court and play in college.
“Sometimes if you’re playing out on the court you can get frustrated, but sitting on the bench you have a different outlook on things,” Mullen said. “I can always be positive no matter what on the bench. I see different things that I wouldn’t if I was out on the court, and that’s going to make me an even better player.”
Owen J. Roberts sophomore guard Nikki Testa scored a career-high 21 points in the Wildcats’ 52-33 victory over Lyndhurst, N.J., in a Boardwalk Classic opener late Saturday night at Wildwood, N.J. ... Pope John Paul II, the area’s last remaining unbeaten squad, fell to perennial District 1 and PIAA Class AAAA power Mount St. Joseph, 48-29, in Saturday’s title game of the Snear Classic. It was the seventh straight tourney crown for the Magic. ... Pottsgrove senior guard Marisa Kinneer, the area’s 3-point leader with 29, has hit five 3s on three different occasions.
League play resumes Thursday, with Methacton playing host to Boyertown in a battle of Liberty Division playoff hopefuls.
In other key games, Frontier Division leader Pope John Paul II visits Boyertown Saturday and Spring-Ford takes on St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) Saturday in the Under Armour Classic at Lower Merion.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

ALL-AREA FOOTBALL: Perkiomen Valley’s Rasaan Stewart is Player of Year

By Don Seeley

GRATERFORD – After Scott Reed went through three different quarterbacks in three seasons at Perkiomen Valley, he and assistant coach Rob Heist were determined to find someone, preferably an underclassman, to be a work-in-progress and, hopefully sooner rather than later, the centerpiece of their offense for two or three years.
While sitting through rain and unseasonably cold temperatures to watch one of their junior high school team’s games two years ago, a very athletic Rasaan Stewart caught their collective eye. But Stewart was a tailback.
The following day, both Reed and Heist met with Stewart and asked him to throw the football…
“It was horrible,” Stewart recalled. “I wasn’t using my legs, just all arm. I couldn’t even throw a spiral.”
“We were impressed watching Rasaan run the ball, and we had running quarterbacks before,” Reed explained. “We thought he’d fit (that role), and Heist thought he could teach him to throw the ball.”
Reed and Heist, as well as everyone else on the Perkiomen Valley staff, thought right.
After learning his new position and leading the Vikings to a winning season as a sophomore, Stewart came back this past season looking like — and, more important, producing like — a veteran quarterback.
Stewart ran for 1,210 yards and 21 touchdowns, and completed an area-high 61 percent of his passes that added up to another 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns. All that despite missing one game with an injury … and all that despite anchoring the defensive secondary at safety and contributing a team-high 97 tackles.
“The expectations got a little higher a bit quicker than I thought,” Reed said of Stewart — The Mercury’s 2012 All-Area Football Player of the Year. “In 10th grade he did some nice things, but he was a better runner. He was in a little over his head at times, though, and he was feeling his way out.

(For complete story, click here ... )

ALL-AREA: Football first team capsules

Perkiomen Valley’s Mark Bonomo (35) finds room around the end while Pottstown’s Darrell Bookard (32) pursues. (Photo/Tom Kelly III)

Jeff Adams, Pottsgrove
Linebacker … 6-2, 190 … Junior … Credited with 98 tackles and 2.5 sacks … Unsung contributor to the area’s No. 1 ranked overall defense against the run – his team finished first against the run and third against the pass … Also played tight end in helping his team to the PAC-10 championship … All PAC-10 selection.

Zach Birch, Pottsgrove
Center/Defensive Tackle … 5-10, 210 … Senior … One of anchors of offensive line that helped team average an area-best 315 yards rushing en route to the PAC-10 championship … Credited with 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks … Recovered two fumbles … All PAC-10 selection.

Mark Bonomo, Perkiomen Valley
Running Back … 5-7, 166 … Junior … Carried 133 times for 1,040 yards and eight touchdowns … Caught 24 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns … Big part of area’s No. 1 offense that averaged 420 yards a game … Also helped on defense with six tackles and one fumble recovery … All PAC-10 selection.

Mark Dukes, Pottsgrove
Running Back … 5-11, 190 … Senior … Carried 167 times for an area-high 1,347 yards – an area-high 8.1 yards per attempt – and 22 touchdowns … Also caught four passes for 48 yards in helping his team to the PAC-10 championship … Area’s second-leading scorer with 142 points overall … All PAC-10 selection.

(For complete story, click here ... )

ALL-AREA: Football teams

Wide receivers:: Clay Domine, Perkiomen Valley; Seth Regensburg, Hill School; Chris Veisbergs, Pope John Paul II
Tight end: Ryan Pannella, Px
Tackles: Jeff Morrow, Perkiomen Valley; Madison O’Connor, Pottsgrove
Guards: Brian Hyland, Phoenixville; Bobby Gallus, Perkiomen Valley
Center: Zach Birch, Pottsgrove
Quarterback: Rasaan Stewart, Perkiomen Valley
Fullback: Yousef Lundi, Spring-Ford
Running backs: Mark Dukes, Pottsgrove; Mark Bonomo, Perkiomen Valley
Plackicker: Jose Holland, Methacton
Athlete: Tory Hudgins, Pottsgrove

(For complete story, click here ... )

Friday, December 28, 2012

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Boyertown beats Bangor for tourney title

Boyertown's Kaitlyn Eisenhard drives the lane against Bangor's Maliah Livingston Friday. (Kevin Hoffman, The Mercury)

By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury

BOYERTOWN — Basketball teams talk about protecting their home court, and none have done it better than the Boyertown girls in their own Holiday Tournament. The Bears ran their string of championships to four in a row Friday night as they shot well and created offense with their aggressive defense in a 60-39 win over Bangor.
Boyertown (7-2) forced 15 Slater turnovers in the first half and Kaitlyn Eisenhard scored 16 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 25. Morgan McCollian topped Bangor (5-2) with 14 points and 10 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive board.
“It feels great to win,” Eisenhard said concerning another home tournament two-game sweep. “Every year since I’ve been a freshman. We always protect our home court.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

BOYS BASKETBALL: Pennridge takes title from Boyertown

Boyertown's Mike Mansur tries to drive past Pennridge's Kyle Bigam during the championship game of the Boyertown Holiday Tournament Friday. (Photo by Brian Ludy)

By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury

BOYERTOWN — The boys championship game of the Boyertown Holiday Basketball Tournament on Friday night resembled a three-point shooting contest much of the time and the Bears certainly held their own in that department. But it was the inside game that ultimately made the difference as Pennridge scored on close-range shots and offensive rebounds early in the fourth quarter and went on to capture the title with a 64-58 win.
Mike Mansur hit a game-high 24 points for Boyertown (3-5), which had won the last three tournament championships, and Connor Dunn and Kyle Dennin added nine points apiece. But Zach Muredda poured in 11 points in the third quarter as the Rams (5-4) wiped out a 31-20 Bear halftime lead and forged a 39-39 tie. Then Pennridge scored the first four points of the final quarter and led the rest of the way while protecting the advantage with a 14-for-20 performance at the free throw line.

(For complete story, click here ... )

ALL-AREA: Hill School’s Fabian named boys soccer Player of the Year

By Austin Hertzog

Wyatt Fabian doesn’t play the flute. But if you ask Hill School boys soccer coach Chris Drowne about his standout junior center back, Fabian has made music on and off the soccer field since becoming a Blue.
“He is everything you would want to build, highlight and celebrate in your soccer program,” Drowne said. “He’s been a pied piper for us, not just in terms of teams wanting us on their schedule, other guys from club teams see Wyatt and are academic-minded see him and want that, too.”
Fabian’s tune isn’t rooted in bringing more players to The Hill or elevating the schedule – that’s just a byproduct. His song is about being team-first, being the best he can be every time out and hopefully helping his teammates be their best each time out, too.
It’s a mentality that paid off in a big way this fall when Fabian led the Blues to their second straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League championship, clinched in a 1-0 shutout of archrival Lawrenceville, a runner-up finish in the Pa. Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament and a 16-3-1 record.
Fabian’s skill, confidence and program-elevating play enabled the Blues to match a school record with 14 shutouts, netting him unanimous selection to the All-MAPL first team and now The Mercury’s All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year honor.

(For entire story, click here ... )

For The Mercury's Pinterest All-Area Athletes' board, click here


Pottsgrove's Rushawn Larmond.

Tyler Collins, Boyertown
Senior forward followed up a quality junior season with an even better final season, leading the Bears with 15 goals to go with five assists for the PAC-10 champions. Collins, who scored the overtime game-winner in the Bears’ 2-1 win over Spring-Ford in the league final, carried Boyertown to a 17-4 record and berth in the District 1-AAA playoffs.
Taylor Dempsey, Owen J. Roberts
Senior forward returned to the Wildcats for his final scholastic campaign after playing the previous year with the Philadelphia Union Academy and came away with 11 goals and eight assists on the season. Helped OJR to a 7-5-1 record in the league.
Wyatt Fabian, Hill School
Junior defender has elevated the entire Hill program in his three years and the technical and poised Fabian was at his best for the Mid-Atlantic Prep League champions while recording a school record-tying 14 shutouts. A three-time All-Area first team choice, Fabian guided the Blues to the final of the Pa. Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament and a 16-3-1 overall record.
Colten Habecker, Hill School
Junior forward once again showed a nose for goal but also a knack for setting up teammates as evidenced by his 12-goal, 15-assist season. Habecker, a Douglassville native, led the Blues to a 16-3-1 record, a second straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League title and trip to the final of the PAISAA Tournament.
Rushawn Larmond, Pottsgrove
Sophomore forward staked his claim as being one of the best in the area, running away with the area’s top scoring honors with 33 goals and 15 assists. A PSCA All-State selection and two-time All-Area first teamer, Larmond helped the Falcons to the PAC-10 semifinals, the final of the District 1-AA playoffs and a 11-7-2 record.

(For complete story, click here ... )
For a Pinterest board of All-Area Players of the Year, click here

Thursday, December 27, 2012

ALL-AREA: OJR’s Morgan joins rare company as two-time Player of Year

By Austin Hertzog

BUCKTOWN — Being the best player on one of the four best teams in all of Pennsylvania wasn’t enough.
Emily Morgan still had a senior season to play, and she was determined to be even better.
How much more could she give after being the motor in the center of midfield for an Owen J. Roberts team that made an emotionally-charged run to the PIAA semifinals, rallying around one another in the wake of teammate Kelsey Kramer’s untimely death?
The ‘D’ in Morgan’s DNA stands for defense, her ability to tackle, dispossess an opposing player, and positional intelligence second to no one in the area for quite some time. So in her final scholastic season Morgan decided she needed to go on the attack.
“I said to my mom at the start of the year, ‘I want to score goals.’ Last year I had around seven goals and, not that a midfielder is supposed to be the leading goalscorer or be the biggest presence in attacking, but at the same time you (need to be influential).
“My main focus was working on my attacking game. I feel like I can always do better, but I did better than last year.”
Morgan brought her usual defensive excellence as a senior and contributed 11 goals and eight assists — reaching double-digit goals like she hoped — to a Wildcat team that finished 17-4-2 this season.
“That was a luxury — every time we stepped on the field we knew we had the best player on the field,” OJR coach Joe Margusity said. “Everything flowed through her during the game.”
The abundant team success of her junior season couldn’t be matched in her senior season, but Morgan brought what she does best and more to solidify her place as one of the finest players to come through the highly-successful Owen J. Roberts program.
Morgan’s spot as one of the area’s best is now solidified on the short list of players to be named The Mercury All-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year twice. She joins past OJR standouts Laura Kane (1998, 2000) and Jen Michewicz (1999, 2001) as a rare two-time recipient.

(For complete story, click here ...)


Phoenixville senior Maddie Fritsche (16) and Upper Perkiomen junior Kayla Smith have been selected to the All-Area girls soccer first team. (File photo by Barry Taglieber)

Emily Diehl, Boyertown
Junior forward recorded her third straight double-digit goal season — 14 goals, 6 assists — as the Bears’ unwavering frontline presence. ... Propelled Boyertown to a second straight PAC-10 championship and the second round of the District 1-AAA playoffs while amassing a 16-2-2 record.

Maddi Fritsche, Phoenixville
Senior defender made it possible for the Phantoms’ strength to be defense, helping her team reach the PAC-10 playoffs and the semifinals of the District 1-AA playoffs. ... Led Phoenixville to a 10-7-2 record, its best mark in five years.

Danielle Lentz, Boyertown
Senior midfielder was a four-year starter and leader in the middle for the Bears while recording six goals and one assist. ... Scored the game-winning penalty kick in Boyertown’s PAC-10 title game win, and the defensive-minded midfielder was integral in her team’s stunning 16-game shutout streak on the way to the District 1-AAA quarterfinals and 16-2-2 overall record.

Gabby McKee, Owen J. Roberts
Junior defender continued to show her poise and quality, leading the Wildcats back line for the third straight year. ... Her ability on free kicks helped her tally seven goals and seven assists, huge numbers for a defender. ... A two-time Mercury All-Area first teamer, McKee led OJR to a 17-4-2 record, the PAC-10 final and the District 1-AAA quarterfinals.

Lauren Mengel, Boyertown
Senior defender provided consistency and mental toughness from the left back position for the Bears’ record-setting defensive effort this season. ... Her and the PAC-10 champion Bears surrendered just six goals all season while rattling off a 16-game shutout streak, the second-best run in state history. ... Two-sport standout who will continuer her soccer and lacrosse careers at the University of Bridgeport.

Emily Morgan, Owen J. Roberts
Senior midfielder pulled the strings in the middle again for the Wildcats while getting more involved in the attack in her final year, amassing 11 goals and seven assists. ... The rare two-time Mercury All-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Morgan was selected to the PSCA All-State team after leading OJR to the PAC-10 title game, the District 1-AAA quarterfinals, and a 17-4-2 record.

Juliana Provini, Owen J. Roberts
Junior forward was the area’s most dynamic attacking threat, leading the Wildcats with 24 goals and 10 assists. ... Selected as an NSCAA Region II All-American, Provini helped OJR to a 17-4-2 record while reaching the PAC-10 final and the District 1-AAA quarterfinals.

Kayla Smith, Upper Perkiomen
Junior forward was the key offensive difference maker for the Indians, leading the team in goals (10) and assists (7). ... Led Indians to the PAC-10 semifinals, a berth in the District 1-AA playoffs, and a winning record in the 14 games she played (missed six games due to injury).

Simone Stewart, Spring-Ford
Senior forward led the rising Rams in scoring with seven goals. ... Led Spring-Ford to a win in the District 1-AAA playoffs after earning the No. 11 seed and an impressive 12-5-3 record.

Sammy Stipa, Spring-Ford
Junior midfielder was the Rams’ top facilitator while scoring four goals, her athleticism aiding why the Rams were one of the league’s most dangerous teams. ... A multi-sport standout who was an all-state selection in basketball a year ago, she helped the Rams to a 12-5-3 record and win in the District 1-AAA playoffs.

Sarafina Valenti, Boyertown
Freshman goalkeeper played well beyond her years and came away with an unforgettable season in recording 16 straight shutouts — the second-best streak in state history. ... Allowed just six goals all year and led the Bears to victory in penalty kicks in the PAC-10 title game. ... Along with the PAC-10 championship win, helped the Bears finish 16-2-2 and reach the District 1-AAA quarterfinals.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Boyertown tops Downingtown East

Mercury file photo Boyertown’s Dee Terry scored a game-high nine points in Thursday’s 35-22 victory over Downingtown East in a Bear Holiday Classic opener.

By Darryl Grumling

BOYERTOWN — Depth, or lack thereof, can make quite a difference on the basketball court.
Thursday’s girls game between host Boyertown and Downingtown East in a Bear Holiday Classic opener was an abject example.
The Bears’ bevy of bench talent helped turn around a sluggish start against the depleted Cougars, who played their five starters for all 32 minutes.
The end result was Boyertown coming away with a harder-than-it-looked, 35-22 victory at BASH Gymnasium.

Junior point guard Dee Terry scored a team-high nine points and senior center Kaitlyn Eisenhard added another  nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Bears (6-2), who advanced to today’s 6 p.m. final against defending District 11-AAAA champion Bangor — a 57-34 victor over Pennridge.
The play of the Boyertown reserves, most notably promising 6-foot freshman Ali Bauman, was equally as important as the Bears broke open a three-point lead by outscoring Downingtown East 12-2 over the final seven minutes.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Boyertown sinks Southern Lehigh

By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury

BOYERTOWN — After scoring the first 11 points of the game, Boyertown appeared ready to run away with Thursday night’s Boyertown Holiday Basketball Tournament boys opening-round contest. Instead, the Bears found themselves down by four points midway through the third quarter after a long stretch of inconsistent offense and some hot shooting from beyond the three-point line by Southern Lehigh.
But Boyertown got its shooting back on track and came up with some big steals and will once again play for the championship after a 53-48 win. Ethan Shalaway scored 12 to lead four double-figure scorers for the Bears (3-4), who will try for their fourth straight title tonight at 7:30 p.m. against Pennridge, a 50-47 winner over Governor Mifflin. Troy Reppert scored 12 for the Spartans (4-3), who will take on Mifflin in the 4:30 p.m. consolation contest.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ALL-AREA FIELD HOCKEY: Spring-Ford’s Gabby Major is Player of the Year

Spring-Ford's Gabby Major is The Mercury's All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year.

By Darryl Grumling

ROYERSFORD — Spring-Ford’s Gabby Major possesses a dazzling blend of stickwork and speed, tools that made her the Queen of the circle this fall when it came to Pioneer Athletic Conference field hockey.
Major, a junior forward who netted a team-high 37 goals for the PAC-10 champion Rams, is The Mercury’s 2012 All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year.
The daughter of Paul and Maisie Major, Gabby joins older brother Paul (last year’s All-Area Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year) as a rare sibling duo to earn that accolade.
A three-time first-team All-Area selection who has already committed to the University of North Carolina, Major helped Spring-Ford bring home its first league championship in 11 years and was a big reason why the Rams won their first 19 games before a season-ending loss in the first round of the District 1-Class AAAA playoffs.

(For complete story, click here ... )

ALL-AREA: Field hockey teams


Gabby Major, Spring-Ford
Junior ... Forward ... Three-time first team selection ... Liberty Division first team pick ... PHSFHCA Class AAA first-team pick. ... NFHCA All-Region first-team selection. ... NFHCA first-team All-American pick. ... Racked up 37 goals and 13 assists to help Rams go unbeaten in Liberty Division play en route to first PAC-10 championship since 2001. ... Member of U-19 U.S. national team. ... Netted four goals in 5-1 league semifinal victory over Phoenixville, then scored two goals in a 3-1 championship victory over Upper Perkiomen. ... Committed to the University of North Carolina. ... The Mercury’s 2012 Field Hockey Player of the Year.

Casey Umstead, Upper Perkiomen
Junior ... Forward ... Frontier Division first team pick. ... PHSFHCA Class AA first team selection. ... NFHCA All-Region second-team selection. ... Led league in both scoring (40) and assists (17) to help Indians win Frontier Division crown and advance to PAC-10 final, District 1-AA final and PIAA-AA tournament. ... Member of U-19 U.S. National team and indoor national team. ... Had two goals in a 5-2 PAC-10 Final Four semifinal win over Perkiomen Valley.

Alexa Hoover, Methacton
Junior. ... Forward. ... Repeat first team selection. ... Liberty Division first team pick. ... PHSFHCA Class AAA honorable mention selection. ... Led Warriors in scoring with 34 goals while also contributing eight assists. ... Had three goals in an 87-second span in a 7-1 victory over Pottstown.

Bailey Quinn, Phoenixville
Sophomore. ... Forward. ... Frontier Division first team pick. ... Scored 23 goals and netted 10 assists for Frontier Division runner-up Phantoms. ... Scored three goals in an 8-1 victory over Pope John Paul II. ... Netted the game-winning tally in OT in a 4-3 victory over Perkiomen Valley.

Alyssa Chillano, Spring-Ford
Junior ... Midfielder ... Three-time All-Area first team selection. ... First team Liberty Division pick. ... PHSFHCA Class AAA first-team selection. ... NFHCA All-Region first-team selection ... NHFCA first-team All-American pick. ... Scored 22 goals and dished out 10 assists for PAC-10 champ Rams, despite missing a couple of weeks while playing for the U.S. National U-21 squad in the Pan American Games in Mexico. ... Committed to the University of Duke.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

ALL-AREA: Methacton's Vance is Golfer of the Year

Photo by John Strickler/photo illustration by Steven Moore Methacton’s Brandon Vance, the 2012 Mercury All-Area Golfer of the Year.
 By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury 
FAIRVIEW VILLAGE - Before this year, one bad hole had invariably led to another, and maybe even more after that for Brandon Vance. But that changed during this fall’s high school golf season as the Methacton junior was able to effectively forget about a bogie and go on from there.
That newly-found mental toughness was certainly put to the test during the second round of the District 1 Tournament at Turtle Creek when Vance, who was in the thick of the battle for a spot in Eastern Regionals, shot a triple bogey on the par-four 14th hole. But he bounced back with a birdie on the par-three 15th and went on to become the only area golfer to advance to PIAA-level play.
That came after a fine regular season in which he won the Pioneer Athletic Conference Individual Tournament and shot just over par for the season, all of which makes Vance the clear choice for The Mercury’s Golf Player of the Year.

ALL-AREA: Golf teams

Carlo Barrasse, Boyertown
Junior … Placed second in the PAC-10 Tournament after shooting a 74 at Gilbertsville to tie for first and then losing a playoff … Scored in eight of nine league regular season matches, including four scores under 40, and tied for the best score of the day with a 36 over nine holes in a PAC-10 semifinal win over Upper Perkiomen … Missed the cut at the District 1 Tournament at Turtle Creek by three strokes after shooting an 80 … PAC-10 First Team selection.
Bennett Detweiler, Spring-Ford
Junior … Tied for third place at the PAC-10 Tournament with a 76 at Gilbertsville … Scored in eight of nine regular season league matches … Shot rounds of 40 and 38 in the PAC-10 playoffs to help the Rams win the title … Made it to the second day of district play, finishing with a two-day total of 154 at Turtle Creek and tying for 19th place … Repeat PAC-10 First Team selection.
Jared Faust, Owen J. Roberts
Junior … Averaged 40.4 strokes over nine holes throughout the season, the best on the team … Tied for 11th place at the PAC-10 Tournament with an 81 at Gilbertsville … Missed the District 1 cut by just one stroke with a 78 at Turtle Creek … “A very calm, level-headed golfer,” according to OJR coach Ted Snyder … PAC-10 First Team selection.
John Foley, Spring-Ford
Sophomore … Tied for third place in the PAC-10 Tournament with a 76 at Gilbertsville … Missed the cut at District 1 by three strokes after shooting an 80 at Turtle Creek … Scored in all nine regular season league matches for the PAC-10 champion Rams, averaging 38.1 strokes for nine holes while shooting three 34’s … PAC-10 First Team selection.
Mike Foley, Methacton
Junior … Placed sixth at the PAC-10 Tournament at Gilbertsville to qualify for district play for the second straight year … Averaged 39.7 strokes for the season … Leader on a team that had lost five seniors … Three-year varsity starter … PAC-10 First Team selection.
Matt Keim, Spring-Ford
Sophomore … Shot a 79 to tie for seventh place at the PAC-10 Tournament at Gilbertsville … Made the cut at the District 1 Tournament at Turtle Creek with a 76 the first day and finished tied for 30th place … Scored in all nine league regular season and two playoff matches for the PAC-10 champion Rams … Shot the best score of the day in the league playoff final, a 36 at Gilbertsville … PAC-10 First Team selection.
Lamar Saxon, Boyertown
Junior … Tied for seventh place in the PAC-10 Tournament at Gilbertsville with a 79 and missed the District 1 cut at Turtle Creek by just two strokes with a 79 … Scored in all nine regular season PAC-10 matches while compiling an average of 39.2 … Tied for the best score of the day with a par 36 at Hickory Valley in a league semifinal win and led the team with a 38 in the PAC-10 final at Gilbertsville … PAC-10 First Team selection.
Brandon Vance, Methacton
Junior … Won a playoff for the PAC-10 title on the first hole after shooting a 74 at Gilbertsville … Averaged 36.3 strokes over nine holes for the season, including a 36 for the best score of the day in a PAC-10 semifinal playoff match … Three-time district qualifier, placed sixth at the District 1 Tournament at Turtle Creek with a two-day total of 146 … Missed qualifying for the PIAA Tournament by only stroke by shooting an 80 at the Eastern Regional at Golden Oaks … Three-year varsity starter … PAC-10 First Team selection … The Mercury Player of the Year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

ALL-AREA: Methacton's Codreanu makes stunning rise as a freshman

By Jeff Stover

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — It’s obvious she knows how to make up for lost time.
Mihaela Codreanu got her freshman season with the Methacton girls tennis team off to a delayed start, the result of a trip to Europe in the fall. But she quickly got on track, then rang up a memorable campaign culminating with her selection as The Mercury’s Player of the Year.
Codreanu recalled spending the first two weeks of the current school year visiting family in Moldova, an Eastern European nation located between Romania and Ukraine. Suffice it to say, she had some catching up to do when she returned home to a Methacton program that hit the courts in mid-August. 

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SEELEY ON WRESTLING: Warriors lucky to be led by Damato

By Don Seeley
Methacton's Dan Damato

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — A.J. Maida is just like every other coach when it comes to keeping an eye on his area’s youth programs and an ear open for any talk about an up-and-coming wrestling wonder.
The veteran Methacton coach never really saw nor heard anything special about Dan Damato other than his first love was baseball. So he didn’t exactly roll out any special welcome mat when the freshman lightweight strolled into his practice room three years ago.
Sure enough, Damato’s contributions — at least in the win-loss column — were few and far between that first season as his 1-10 record obviously revealed. Improving to a modest 9-24 — including a quick exit from the Section Three Tournament the following season — surely didn’t convince Maida he had a very resourceful starter for another two years, either.
Especially after Damato went down with an injury to begin his junior year.
But Maida wouldn’t rid his wrestling room of Damato, or exchange or trade his now senior middleweight — and his .500 record — for anyone else. 

OJR More Than Survived Beast of East grind

By Don Seeley

NEWARK, Del. — Steve DeRafelo has been to the Beast of the Classic more than a few times, both as a spectator and as a coach.
But this past weekend’s 20th renewal of what many regard is the No. 1 or No. 2 high school wrestling tournament in the entire country, may have been the most difficult the Owen J. Roberts veteran head coach has ever seen or been part of.
“It was a meat-grinder,” DeRafelo said late Sunday night, soon after returning with one medalist and a very respectable 17th place among 102 teams in the final standings. “It just seems as though all the kids are tough, scrappy. It puts everything in perspective, actually redefines what’s tough.”
The Wildcats, all 13 of them — the very ill Kyle Shronk missing at 160 pounds — went head-to-head with some of the best talent they’ll likely see the remainder of the winter. Eight of them ran smack into well-known and well-respected opponents, including three ranked No. 1 in the nation as well as one No. 2 and one No. 3.
At 126, Colby Frank made his season debut with a 34-second pin only to get No 1. Joey Dance of Christiansburg, Va. — a Beast runner-up and state champion a year ago — in the second round. Frank took him a full six minutes, but fell short 17-11. Dance went on to capture the gold medal.
At 132, Dominic Petrucelli opened against No. 11 ranked P.J. Klee of Blair Academy. Petrucelli was tech-falled. Klee went on to take second.
At 170, unsung Tyler Rogers — overcoming a knee injury and a broken nose – opened with No. 3 ranked Zach Epperly of Christiansburg — situated behind Pennsylvania immortals Cody Wiercioch of Canon-McMillan and Chance Marsteller of Kennard-Dale. Rogers was pinned, then won four in a row before being elminated. Epperly went on to capture the gold medal.
At 182, Gordon Bolig opened against No. 1 ranked Eric Morris of Wyoming Seminary. Bolig, like Frank earlier, went the full six minutes before losing. Bolig regrouped and took seventh place. Morris breezed to the gold medal.
At 195, Evan Boaman opened against No. 8 ranked Ray O’Donnell of Saucon Valley and was pinned. O’Donnell went on to finish second.
And at 285, Brad Trego posted a pair of solid wins before running into No. 2 ranked Brooks Black of Blair Academy. Trego was pinned. Black, who was ranked No. 1 until two weeks ago, went on to win the gold medal.
“In a tournament like the Beast you expect to hit some of the top seeds along the way,” DeRafelo said. “But the nationally and state ranked kids we ran into so early ... it was absurd.
“What made it so much tougher than last year was that the Ohio teams were back in (thanks to the Beast being held a week later). You look at some of the teams from out there. They have some hammers.”
Massillon Perry and Brecksville, ranked No. 17 and No. 49, respectively, in the nation, did the majority of Ohio’s hammering. The two teams finished third and fourth in the standings behind No. 1 Blair Academy and No. 2 Wyoming Seminary.
Eleven of the 16 teams that finished in front of Owen J. Roberts were nationally ranked. And only four PIAA-member rivals — nationally ranked Canon-McMillan (No. 6), which finished fifth, and Bethlehem Catholic (No. 29), which finished 11th, along with Cumberland Valley (12th) and Northampton (14th) — closed ahead of OJR in the team standings.
“We’re pretty happy with the way we wrestled,” DeRafelo said. “This is going to help us, and it will be an important part of any success we hope to have in the postseason.
“Right now, though, our kids are beat up. It’s a physically tough tournament. You come out of that tournament knowing there is nothing more grueling than that. I mean it’s match after match after match. But it’s going to help us in the long run.”
Norristown, the only other District 1 team at the Beast last weekend, had three medalists in Zach Fuentes — who edged OJR’s Derek Gulotta in a 1-0, third-round thriller — fifth at 113; Mike Springer, seventh at 145; and Brett Harner, second at 182 after taking Morris into overtime. … Only two OJR entries went two-and-out. The Wildcats went a combined 35-26 overall in individual bouts.

With the district abandoning sectionals for league championships, the Pioneer Athletic Conference show should be a good one. The weight class that arguably would be the toughest, should it be wrestled right now, is 126 — with Frank, Boyertown’s Edie Kriczky (10-2), Spring-Ford’s Sean Hennessey (8-1), and Upper Perkiomen’s Dylan Steffenino (2-1), who is expected to return soon from an injury. Frank is 4-0 against Kriczky and Hennessey, while Hennessey has split two bouts each against Kriczky and Steffenino.


By Don Seeley

Team Rankings
1. Owen J. Roberts (5-0) … respectable showing at Beast
2. Spring-Ford (6-0) … impressive win at Upper Perk
3. Boyertown (5-1) … got wakeup call at Pottstown
4. Methacton (4-2) … dumped by Downingtown East
5. Upper Perkiomen (3-3) … injuries have Tribe hurting

* * *

Individual Rankings
1. Lucas Miller, Bt (11-1)
2. Dustin Steffenino, UP (11-2)
3. Aston White, OJR (6-3)
HM: Jimmy Frank, SF (7-3); Logan Pennypacker, Pt (6-1).

1. Derek Gulotta, OJR (9-2)
2. Ryan Hayes, SF (8-2)
3. Eddie McCarthy, Px (8-3)
HM: Eric Miller, UP (5-4).

1. Dante Steffenino, UP (10-2)
2. Eric Straup, Meth (7-3)
3. Alec Pupo, Owen J. Roberts (4-3)

1. Sean Hennessey, SF (8-1)
2. Eddie Kriczky, Bt (10-2)
3. Colby Frank, OJR (4-2)
HM: Dylan Steffenino (2-1 – injured).

1. Joe Staley, Meth (8-1)
2. Bryant Wise, PT (8-0)
3. Nico Demetrio, Pottsgrove (4-1)
HM: Dominic Petrucelli, OJR (6-2)

1. Wolfgang McStravick, UP (12-3)
2. Chad Saunders, Hill (14-1)
3. Demetri D’Orsaneo, OJR (6-4)
HM: Adam Dombrosky, SF (7-3)

1. Kyle Fellman, UP (9-2)
2. Frank Krauss, SF (6-3)
3. Patrick Bohn, Pt (8-0)

1. Adam Moser, OJR (6-2)
2. Nick Giangiulio, PV (5-0)
3. Jasheel Brown, Pt (7-1)
HM: Nick Flanigan, Hill (13-3); Jordan LaHaise, DB (9-4).

1. Kyle Shronk, OJR (5-0)
2. Darien Hain, Pt (8-0)
3. Nick Limone, DB (10-3)
HM: Jon Cooper, SF (6-2); Aaron Cusatis, PJP (6-2).

1. Gray Garber, Bt (9-3)
2. Tyler McGuigan, SF (8-1)
3. Devin Bradley, Meth (8-2)
HM: Connor Staples, PJP (6-2).

1. Gordon Bolig, OJR (11-2)
2. Cody Richmond, Bt (8-4)
3. Johnny Cherneskie, Hill (10-3)
HM: Shayne Buckwalter, DB (5-2); Alec Della Donna, PV (5-2).

1. Mike Baccaro, Meth (8-1)
2. Nick Perri, SF (8-2)
3. Jordan Wertz, Bt (8-4)
HM: Evan Boaman, OJR (6-3); Kirk Cherneskie, PJP (8-0); Jordan Valenteen, Px (9-3).

1. Jordan Wood, Bt (11-0)
2. Pat Finn, Pg (5-0)
3. Mason Romano, SF (9-1)
HM: Nick DeAngelo, OJR (7-3); John Hill, Hill (11-5); Josh Slody, Pt (7-1).

1. Tracey Green, Meth (8-1)
2. Kostya Golobokov, Hill (12-3)
3. Brad Trego, OJR (6-4)
HM: Luke DiElsi, PV (5-2); Josh Boyer, SF (4-1); Josh Slody, Pt (5-1).

Sunday, December 23, 2012

ALL-AREA: Methacton's Watro captures Runner of the Year

By Rosemarie Ross

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — For years, his Methacton friends and track coaches kept telling Curtis Watro he should try running cross country. But soccer was Watro’s first love. Track was not far behind, and he had been an excellent miler on the Warriors’ spring track team for three years.
So walking away from his Warriors varsity soccer team for cross country, with both being a fall sport ... no way.
It took until his senior year for Watro to suddenly have a change of heart. Cross country was going to be it this fall.
“It was hard, and it definitely took a little bit of thinking,” Watro recalled. “Soccer was always a lot of fun and I definitely wanted to play. But I thought if I tried cross country maybe it would get me in better shape and make me better for spring track.”

To read the complete story, click here

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For the complete All-Area boys cross country teams, click here

H.S. BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Upper Perkiomen girls appear to be turning corner

One-on-one with Perkiomen Valley standout Mikki Guiton

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By Darryl Grumling

Upper Perkiomen's Stacey Auckland (rear)

The last time the Upper Perkiomen girls basketball team had a winning season, none of the current Indians players had even been born.
With more than a third of this year already in the books, however, the Indians have made a pretty regular habit of enjoying the sweet taste of success.
Heading into Thursday’s Quakertown Tournament opener against William Tennent, Upper Perkiomen is off to a 6-2 start, and has gone 3-1 in the Frontier Division.
“There have been a number of factors that have finally come together,” Indians coach Pete Sovia said. “But the biggest, by far, is the commitment to excellence by the core group of players in the program.”
That core is led by the senior co-captain duo of Stacey Auckland and Dani Moser. Auckland, a 5-foot-10 power forward and four-year starter who has an outside shot at 1,000 career points, leads the team with a 13.1 scoring average.

 ( For the complete story, click here )

Saturday, December 22, 2012

ALL-AREA CROSS COUNTRY: Methacton’s Steinke wins third straight honor

Methacton's Kara Steinke is The Mercury's All-Area Girls Cross Country athlete of the year for the third straight time. (Main photo by John Strickler/Photo illustration by Steven Moore)

By Rosemarie Ross

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — These days Kara Steinke is making her mark on the basketball courts as the starting point guard for Methacton’s basketball team. And she is a great one.
But her running workouts remain very much part of her daily routine.
Before Steinke heads for her basketball workouts, she’ll hit the road for a few miles. If there is an afternoon game to be played, she settles for a few miles on the treadmill late at night.
For the past three years, the Methacton junior has been the area girls’ foremost cross country runner, coming off her best season yet this past fall.
Steinke went undefeated in dual meets for the third straight year, then captured her third straight Pioneer Athletic Conference girls cross country championship. She subsequently had her highest finishes at districts and states, crossing fourth (17:57) in District 1-Class AAA and 26th in the PIAA state meet — just one spot short of a medal.
Along the way she also won the Abington Invitational, the Briarwood Invitational Championship Race and Twilight” Invitational, and placed second at both the Viking Invitational and PIAA Foundation Invitational.
Late November, Steinke also ran in the New York Foot Locker Northeast Championships at Van Cortlandt Park for the first time, crossing 13th in that impressive field.
And, for third straight season, she is The Mercury All-Area Girls Cross Country Runner of Year.

(For complete story, click here ... )

ALL-AREA: Girls cross country team

Mercury file photo Owen J. Roberts’ Megan Bernotas.

By Rosemarie Ross

Megan Bernotas, Owen J. Roberts
Freshman ... Placed fourth at PAC-10 championships with a 20:12 ... Placed 48th (19:16) at District 1-AAA ... Placed 134 at states (21:00) ...Placed second at Twin Valley Invitational (20:41) ... Placed second at Chris Fretz Invitational (19:46).
Sammy Christman, Spring-Ford
Sophomore ... Placed seventh at PAC-10 championships with a 20:23 ... Placed 47th (19:16) at District 1-AAA ... Placed 188th at states (22:13).
Morgan Faust, Perkiomen Valley
Sophomore ... Placed fifth at PAC-10 championships with a 20:17 ... Finished 67th (19:46) at District 1-AAA.
Lydia Keiper, Upper Perkiomen
Senior ... Placed fifth at District 1-AA with a 19:49 to storm back after falling at PAC-10 Championships that forced her to drop out ... Placed 72nd at states (20:54) ... Placed 12th at Paul Short White Race (20:26).
Allie Monyak, Pope John Paul II
Senior ... Placed sixth at PAC-10 championships with a 20:19 ... Placed ninth (20:17) at District-AA ... Placed 84th at states (21:01).
Emily Schumaker, Boyertown
Sophomore ... Placed second at PAC-10 championships with a 19:52 ... Finished 35th (19:04) at District 1-AAA ... Finished advanced to states ... Placed 132nd at states (20:58) ... Placed second at Steel City Invitational (20.51).
Kara Steinke, Methacton
Junior ... Went undefeated in dual meets for third straight season ... Won PAC-10 championships for third straight year with an 18:41 ... Placed fourth (17:57) at District 1-AAA ... Placed 26th at states with a 19:20 ... Won Abington Invitational ... Won Briarwood Invitational ... Won Twilight Invitational ... Placed second at Viking Invitational ... Placed second at PIAA Foundation Invitational. ... The Mercury’s Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for the third straight year.
Jill Weston, Owen J. Roberts
Junior ... Finished third at PAC-10 championships with a 20:06 ... Placed 55th (19:27) at District 1-AAA ... Placed fourth at Chris Fretz Invitational (20:18) ,.. Placed 12th at Twin Valley Invitational (21:49).

(For complete story, click here ... )

PJP swept in double-dual

By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury

UPPER PROVIDENCE — A wrestling team that gives away 30 points in forfeits just isn’t going to win, no matter how well it does in the bouts that are actually contested.
Such is life thus far this season for Pope John Paul II, which certainly held its own out on the mat in Saturday’s non-league double-dual against Philadelphia Catholic League opponents, but wound up with two losses — 42-27 to Roman Catholic and 60-15 to Cardinal O’Hara.
Kirk Cherneskie remained undefeated on the year for PJP (0-8) with an overtime decision and a win by forfeit. Kevin Shirley, Josh Bildstein, Jared Sahakian and Vinnie Togno won by pins for the Golden Panthers against Roman Catholic (3-5) and Conor Staples prevailed by a fall against O’Hara (3-0), which started the meet with a 57-21 decision of the Cahillites.
“We’re wrestling well, but when you give up 30 points going into a match it doesn’t matter,” said PJP head coach Selden Staples. “It will get a little better in January, but then we immediately go into the PAC-10.”
The Golden Panthers fell into a 19-0 hole against Roman Catholic after five bouts that included a loss by a pin, two forfeits, a double forfeit, and two dropped decisions.
Then Cherneskie pulled out a win at 195 pounds in a bout that headed to overtime tied at 1-1 and remained the same through the one minute extra session and the first of two 30-second periods. But Cherneskie escaped in the second one, took his man down, and nearly got a pin at the buzzer for a 6-1 decision.
Oddly enough, all of Cherneskie’s wins this year have gone at least the full six minutes, which is apparently no problem after putting in a lot of work on conditioning.
“My coach has really gotten me faster,” said the PJP junior. “I dropped a little weight. Coach has me working hard. He’s conditioning us really well. It helps to wrestle six minutes. I haven’t had a pin this year.”
Shirley and Bildstein followed with their pins to pull PJP to within 19-15, but four straight forfeits in the light weights came after that before Sahakian and Togno finished up with their wins by fall.
Pope John Paul gave up a forfeit at 152 pounds to start things against the Lions, but a 3-1 win by Aaron Cusatis on a takedown in the first overtime period got PJP on the board and a second-period pin by Staples and the forfeit to Cherneskie at 182 pounds gave the Panthers a 15-6 advantage before the bunch of inevitable empty spots came around again.
“It’s a little tough,” Selden Staples said concerning the lack of wrestlers. “That’s the challenge. It’s a challenge for O’Hara. It’s a challenge for all of us. You ask a kid who’s never wrestled before to come out and wrestle.”
So for now, the Panthers have to forget about the team score and worry about how they do individually while preparing for the postseason tournament grind.
“That’s where conditioning is helping us,” said Cherneskie. “It’s tough to win when we’re forfeiting so many weight classes.”
“Generally speaking, we’re wrestling pretty well,” Selden Staples added. “It’s just a lack of numbers. I tell the kids to ask themselves, ‘How do I measure myself this year? If I wrestled eight or nine matches, how many did I win?’ ”.

Cherneskie was the only Panther with two wins and is now 8-0 on the year. … Staples and Cusatis, who both split on the day, are each 6-2. …   Staples tried to rally from a 7-0 deficit after a period in the 182-pound bout against Roman Catholic, but couldn’t quite turn Atticus Robinson in the third period of a 9-6 loss. … There were 12 pins, a forfeit, and only one decision between O’Hara and Roman. … PJP went a combined 7-9 in the bouts that it did not forfeit and now has a 35-34 record in such matches this season.

Methacton falls to Downingtown East

By Don Seeley

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — A.J. Maida opted to look at the calendar rather than the scoreboard Saturday morning.
While there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to shout about during Methacton’s 44-17 non-league loss to visiting Downingtown East, the Warriors head coach was well aware of the date … and the days and weeks ahead to get back into the practice room to work the kinks out of his lineup before heading into the Pioneer Athletic Conference and postseason grind.
The Warriors won just four of the 13 contested bouts against the Cougars, who are every bit as good as their 11-1 overall may indicate and more than likely will pin down the Ches-Mont League title when all is said and done in a couple of months.
So considering the opposition, and the handful of so bright spots sprinkled in and around the four individual wins, Maida’s mood was still somewhat upbeat following the setback.
“Downingtown East is very good, so I don’t want to sound like I’m taking anything away (from that team) at all, but we obviously have to improve,” he explained. “We can’t wrestle in some situations like we did today. We need more of an effort.
“But that’s why we put a team like Downingtown East on our schedule. That’s a quality team. We had an opportunity to look at what (Downingtown East) does and why they have the success they do.”
What the Cougars did Saturday was, for the most part, dominate their hosts on their feet — getting the first takedown in eight of the bouts, seven of which they won — and consistently finish what series of moves they started when down on the mat.
When it was over, the Cougars had three pins, a technical fall and three dominating decisions — one 7-1 and the others 7-0 and 6-0 shutouts.
“Obviously there is a lot for us to work on,” said Methacton’s Joe Staley, who ran up a technical fall in just 2:31 at 132 pounds to get his team on the board in the fourth bout of the match. “We just can’t give up the bonus points like we did. The little fundamentals are what we need to work on.
“This was our first home meet, and a lot of the guys were a little nervous. But we’ll hard, and it will only get better from here on in.”
The Warriors (4-2) trailed 14-0 — thanks to Jude McDowell’s pin at 113, unbeaten Wade Cummings’ technical fall at 120 and Jared Leonettis’ decision at 126 — before Staley’s five-pointer. But when the Cougars’ T.J. Nelson (decision), Matt Fischer (decision) and Alex Wait (35-second pin) followed, the deficit swelled to 26-5 at the halfway point.
And from there, Downingtown East and Methacton simply exchanged wins.
James Meyer’s made it 29-5 with his 7-0 blanking at 160 before Devin Bradley added to Methacton’s total with a pin at 170. Chris Jarani gave the Cougars three more with a 6-0 decision at 182 before Mike Baccaro used a third-period escape to edge Adam Pleines, 3-2, at 195. Then Matt Bartolotta’s first-period pin at 220 officially clinched it before Methacton’s Tracey Green put together a workmanlike 5-1 decision at 285.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” said Downingtown East head coach Joe Horvath. “We’re pleased after making a few adjustments (due to the injured 170-pound Chris Brady being out of the lineup).”
Horvath had to be happy with the showing considering the Cougars were coming off a 40-13 win over crosstown and Ches-Mont rival Downingtown West three days earlier.
“We talked about (a letdown) immediately after that match,” Horvath. “We talked to the kids because they had another challenge Saturday. We told them they had to remain focused, stay sharp as a team. They managed to do that, too.”
“Downingtown East is too well-coached for (any letdown),” Maida added. “Coach Horvath and his staff get them ready for every match.”
Which is what Maida intends to do with the Warriors.
“We have a lot to work on,” he said. “But it’s December, and (this was) December wrestling. Hopefully we’ll get back to work and get ready for January, February and March. This today was one of the ways to get ready.”

Methacton forfeited the 106-pound finale. … Staley, Baccaro and Green all improved to 8-1, while Bradley upped his mark to 8-2. … Cummings, one of District 1’s most promising freshmen, is the son of Cougars assistant Darrin Cummings. ... The Warriors head down to Delaware next week for the Tiger Classic, while the Cougars will take part in the Wetzel Classic at Hatboro-Horsham. ... Former Methacton head coach Dennis Kellon — who will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame next April — was in attendance, as was former Downingtown state champion Glenn Koser.

Friday, December 21, 2012

WRESTLING: Spring-Ford jumps all over Upper Perk

Spring-Ford's Ryan Hayes closes in on a pin of Upper Perkiomen's Eric Miller at 113 Friday night in PAC-10 wrestling action. (John Strickler/The Mercury)

By Don Seeley

RED HILL — Spring-Ford gave itself, as well as head coach Tim Seislove, an early Christmas present Friday night.
The Rams played Grinch with four pins and a pair of forfeits in the first eight bouts, the perfect wrap to their very convincing 42-23 win over Upper Perkiomen.
Despite Owen J. Roberts’ recent two-year run, and Boyertown’s reign before that, the Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen match is still that circle-the-date event on the Pioneer Athletic Conference wrestling calendar. And the fact the longtime rivals were opening their PAC-10 schedules so early was certainly a holiday treat.
Especially for the Rams and Seislove.

(For complete story, click here ... )

WRESTLING: Focused Perkiomen Valley tops Phoenixville

Phoenixville’s Henry Hancock tries to control Perkiomen Valley’s Wyatt Gehman during their bout at 160 Friday night in PAC-10 wrestling action. Gehman won by pin at 2:59. (Photo by Barry Taglieber)

By Barry Sankey

PHOENIXVILLE — Amidst the atmosphere surrounding the 50-year golden anniversary of Phoenixville wrestling, Perkiomen Valley’s wrestlers still remained focus on the business at hand Friday evening.
The visiting Vikings won 10 of 14 bouts, including five by fall, to down the Phantoms, 48-18, in a Pioneer Athletic Conference match.
“It was a long day for our kids,” said Perkiomen Valley coach Tim Walsh. “But it was nice to be a part of. It was nice for our kids to see history with a lot of success like Phoenixville had. I am glad they asked us to be a part of it.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

BOYS BASKETBALL: Daniel Boone falls to unbeaten Exeter

By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury

UNION — When you’re up against a basketball team that has a good and experienced big man, players who can shoot three-pointers, and is almost perfect from the free throw line, you’d better be able to score some points of your own.
That was the task facing Daniel Boone in Friday night’s Berks County Division I contest against undefeated Exeter, but the Blazers couldn’t keep pace due to too many turnovers early and too many rushed shots late in the 61-50 loss.
Joe Beddall led the Eagles (2-0, 7-0 overall) – who made their first 16 free throws of the night and wound up at 23-for-26 – with 22 points. Teammate Justin Trojanowski scored 11 and pulled in 13 rebounds. Emmanuel Lacey led Boone (1-1, 4-3) with 11 points and Ken Worthington followed with 10.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Spring-Ford girls advance to final

Spring-Ford High School's girls basketball team defeated Chartiers Valley (Pa.), 43-37, Friday morning in the semifinals of the KSA Classic in Orlando, Florida.

The Rams will play Prep Charter from Philadelphia in the Pink Bracket Championship game 9:45 a.m. Saturday in the HP Center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Last year, Chartiers Valley lost in the Class AAA state semifinals to eventual state champion Archbishop Wood.


Earlier this week, the Pioneer Athletic Conference's release of the Football All-Academic Award winners incorrectly identified one of its recipients. The Phoenixville High School award winner this year is Brian Hyland.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

BOYS BASKETBALL: Pottsgrove surges past Pottstown

Pottstown's Steven Steinmetz gets ball stripped away by a Pottsgrove defender Thursday. (Kevin Hoffman, The Mercury)

By Jeff Stover

POTTSTOWN — Scott Palladino couldn’t explain it.
He couldn’t bring out any diagrams explaining the incredible second quarter Pottsgrove played in Thursday’s game with Pottstown. But the Falcons’ head coach was quite happy by what he saw transpire in the pivotal period of this traditional clash between the neighboring Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals.
Shooting an 8-for-9 from the floor, Pottsgrove put up 23 points to the Trojans’ 12. It effectively erased the Trojans’ first-quarter lead and set the tone for a 62-53 victory at Pottstown High’s Strom Gymnasium.

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Phantoms nail down first league win

Phoenixville's Marcus Howell goes in for layup as Upper Perk's Joshua Wynder defends Thursday. (Photo by Barry Taglieber)

By Barry Sankey

PHOENIXVILLE — Two schools seeking their first Pioneer Athletic Conference boys basketball victories of the season collided Thursday night in Phoenixville.
The host Phantoms entertained Upper Perkiomen in a Frontier Division matchup, and it was Phoenixville which came away with a 57-40 victory over the Indians.
Marcus Howell scored a game-high 19 points for the Phantoms, 13 during the second half. Howell punctuated the effort with six rebounds, three steals and two assists.

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Pottsgrove beats Pottstown for first league win

By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury

LOWER POTTSGROVE — From tough defense to determined offensive rebounding, Pottsgrove did a little bit of everything in Thursday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division girls basketball contest against Pottstown, coming out with its first league win of the season, 54-46.
The Falcons (1-2, 3-4) certainly didn’t shoot the lights out, but their hustle produced 18 more shots at the basket than their opponents, with Alliya Austin leading the way with 15 points and Marisa Kinneer following with 13. Destinee Astheimer topped the Trojans (0-3, 1-5) with 14 points and Alicia Rosenberger added 10.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WRESTLING: Boyertown takes down Pottstown

John Strickler/The Mercury Boyertown’s Gray Garber, top, turns and pins Pottstown’s Sebastian Shiffler during their 170-pound bout Wednesday night.

By Don Seeley

POTTSTOWN — Boyertown head coach Pete Ventresca didn’t have a grin on his face, not even as much as a wry smile.
Pottstown head coach Brad Bechtel wasn’t exactly beaming, either ... but he did manage a half-smile or two.
No one was quite sure what ailed Boyertown in Wednesday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference match with the Trojans, but it sure didn’t look like the team that opened the season with a 4-1 mark in the Brian Bealer Memorial Bear Duals, or the team that finished fifth in the highly regarded King of the Mountain Tournament last weekend ... or even the team some have listed as high as No. 2 in District 1-AAA rankings.
The Bears did win by a 41-21 margin, but it wasn’t secured until the 12th bout of the evening — Mike Fretz’s first-period pin at 195 pounds.

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WRESTLING: Blazers no match for Wilson

By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury

UNION — There was no doubt about it.
Daniel Boone was going to be in for a tough night in Wednesday night’s Berks County match against defending Division I and Berks County champion Wilson. The Blazers were going to forfeit the first four bouts, then be up against pretty much an all-star lineup the rest of the way.
Under those circumstances, there wasn’t much Boone could do except to individually wrestle hard for six minutes and take something out of the matches for future use as the Blazers fell to the powerful Bulldogs, 51-15.

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Boyertown: Hannah Marks; Methacton: Lauren Alexander; Owen J. Roberts: Madeline Sell; Phoenixville: Morgan Bird; Pope John Paul II: Katie Steiert; Pottsgrove: Shaina Wood; Pottstown: Katrina Braunsberg; Spring-Ford: Damaris Lopez; Upper Perkiomen: Kandace Higman.

Boyertown: Matthew Ali; Methacton: Chris Lawley; Owen J. Roberts: Christopher Winand; Perkiomen Valley: Benjamin Brandt; Phoenixville: Matthrew Fabius; Pope John Paul II: Michael Kuklinski; Pottsgrove: Ian Yanusko;  Pottstown: Nathan Smith; Spring-Ford: David Forcey; Upper Perkiomen: Avery Scripture.

Boyertown: Anna Simpson; Methacton: Vanessa Fulton; Owen J. Roberts: Rachel Heise; Perkiomen Valley: Cassidy Nagle; Phoenixville: Eileen Butler; Pope John Paul II: Regina Souder; Pottsgrove: Kelsey Boyd; Pottstown: Yvonne Maloy; Spring-Ford: Samantha Flynn; Upper Perkiomen: Lydie Keiper.

Boyertown: Alexis Jacquot; Methacton: Kim Realbuto; Owen J. Roberts: Heather Morris; Perkiomen Valley: Sarah Roos; Phoenixville: Rachel Boone; Pope John Paul II: Alex Staples; Pottsgrove: Nicole Finn; Pottstown: Kelsie Andrews; Spring-Ford: Simone Vagnoni; Upper Perkiomen: Samantah Stafford.

Boyertown: Matthew Mocci; Methacton: Chris He; Owen J. Roberts: Pal Perreault; Perkiomen Valley: Robbie Thacker; Phoenixville: Brian Hyland; Pope John Paul II: Chris Dileva; Pottsgrove: Zach Birch; Pottstown: Andrew Gazzillo; Spring-Ford: Ben Schein; Upper Perkiomen: Quinn Perlstein.

Boyertown: Zachary Strohl; Methacton: Jeff Handwerk; Owen J. Roberts: Dylan Gallagher; Perkiomen Valley: Briana Krewson; Phoenixville: Robert Miller; Pottsgrove: Adam Maynard; Pottstown: Eric Haas; Spring-Ford: Anthony Barbine; Upper Perkiomen: Daniel Loose.

Boyertown: Rachel Heil; Phoenixville: Ashley Sierzega; Spring-Ford: Alyssa Cominsky; Upper Perkiomen: Lauren Saylor.

Boyertown: Aaron Kulig; Methacton: Luke Herber; Owen J. Roberts: Zachary Jennion; Perkiomen Valley: Mike Flinn; Phoenixville: Tyler Timmins; Pope John Paul II: Alex Plate;Pottsgrove: Niahz Wince; Pottstown: Sebastian Shiffler; Spring-Ford: Steve Sharon; Upper Perkiomen: Benjamin Hammill.

Boyertown: Inga Maric; Methacton: Caroline Maher; Owen J. Roberts: Kayla Oliver; Perkiomen Valley: Caroline Oehlerich; Phoenixville: Caroline Johnston; Pope John Paul II: Lexi Kapusta; Pottsgrove: Morgan Coddington; Pottstown: Megan Schmidt; Spring-Ford: Haley Puckett; Upper Perkiomen: Jacklyn Krempasky.

Boyertown: Emily Allen; Methacton: Allison Mann; Owen J. Roberts: Valerie Lenzi; Perkiomen Valley: Vinitha Kumar; Phoenixville: Taylor Horgan;  Pope John Paul II: Samantha Lukens; Pottsgrove: Ashley Monzo; Pottstown: Ashley Slody; Spring-Ford: Marybeth Moscirella; Upper Perkiomen: Erika Cox.

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Boyertown: Lily Fanok; Methacton: Curtis Watro; Owen J. Roberts: Austin Kleinfelter; Perkiomen Valley: Emily Angst; Phoenixville: Julie McNabb; Pope John Paul II: Lexi Kapusta; Pottsgrove: Cody Marchese; Pottstown: Richard Masciarelli; Spring-Ford: Ben Schein; Upper Perkiomen: Kimberly Kachmar.