Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mercury Sports: Saturday Recap

Mercury file photo Sue Benfield stepped down before this season after 41 years in charge of the Boyertown softball program.

Pick up Sunday's Mercury, which includes a profile of longtime Boyertown softball coach Sue Benfield, coverage of Perkiomen Valley/Methacton boys lacrosse, and our 2013 softball previews.

SOFTBALL: Benfield leaves quite a legacy at Boyertown

BOYS LACROSSE: Perkiomen Valley beats Methacton in "Rivalry Day" showdown

SOFTBALL: 2013 Season Preview Capsules

LOCAL ROUNDUP: Spring-Ford, Methacton combine for 5 firsts in track and field classic

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mercury Sports: Thursday recap

Perkiomen School's Jose Marce (5) advances to third after tagging up on a fly ball in the bottom of the second inning Thursday. Upper Perkiomen third baseman Ryan Harris tries to apply the late tag. (John Strickler/The Mercury)

Pick up Friday's edition of The Mercury, which includes coverage of Perkiomen School/Upper Perkiomen and Perkiomen Valley/Phoenixville baseball and Perkiomen Valley/Phoenixville softball.

BASEBALL: Phoenixville outlasts Perkiomen Valley in 8 innings

BASEBALL: Perkiomen School doubles up Upper Perkiomen

SOFTBALL: Minnick seizes chance, leads Perkiomen Valley past Phoenixville

Also in Friday's Mercury: A special commemorative section on the Spring-Ford girls basketball state championship

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

BASEBALL: Boyertown rallies past Perkiomen Valley to win PAC-10 opener

Perkiomen Valley’s Chase Ott, right, steals second base as Boyertown’s Tony Casper awaits the throw in the top of the second during Wednesday’s PAC-10 baseball game at Bear Stadium. (John Strickler/The Mercury)

By Dennis Weller

BOYERTOWN — The challenge for the Boyertown baseball team this year will be to score some runs to go along with what will undoubtedly be a strong pitching staff. And though it took the Bear batters a while to get on the board in Wednesday afternoon’s season and Pioneer Athletic Conference opener at Bear Stadium, three runs in the fifth inning turned out to be enough to supplement the pitching of A.J. Bogucki, Dan Woodley, and Tyler Bauman in a 3-2 win over Perkiomen Valley.
Bogucki struck out eight through four innings and also knocked in the Bears’ first run with a line single to center, Woodley picked up the win after allowing only an unearned run in the fifth, and Bauman earned a save with two scoreless frames. Jay Jabs pitched well in a losing effort for the Vikings (0-1, 1-1).

(For complete story, click here ...)

BOYS LACROSSE: Perkiomen Valley handles Phoenixville in PAC-10 opener

Phoenixville's Rob Miller attempts to run around the defense of Perkiomen Valley's Ben Minardi during Wednesday's PAC-10 boys lacrosse game. (Photo by Barry Taglieber)
By Barry Sankey

PHOENIXVILLE — It is early in the spring sports season, and coaches are still hunting for the right combination of players along with the search for hard work and improvement with each practice session and game.
Perkiomen Valley first-year coach Bryan Churchey also sought a complete game from his players during Wednesday afternoon’s Pioneer Athletic Conference contest against Phoenixville.
The Vikings found both their offense and defense clicking that led to an 11-2 victory over the Phantoms at their new multi-purpose turf field.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BOYS TENNIS: Doubles teams key as Perkiomen Valley tops Owen J. Roberts

John Strickler/The Mercury Perkiomen Valley’s Vash Singh follows through during Tuesday’s No. 1 singles match against Owen J. Roberts’ Utkarsh Pandey. Singh won, 6-2, 6-4.

By Dennis Weller

GRATERFORD — Some good young players have jumped into the Perkiomen Valley singles spots, leaving the veterans at doubles. And that has been a winning combination for the Vikings so far in the early stages of the Pioneer Athletic Conference boys tennis schedule. The Vikings won their second straight match Tuesday afternoon, 5-2, over visiting Owen J. Roberts.
Yash Singh won at No. 1 singles for PV (2-0, 2-0) and Evan Newbill was victorious in the No. 3 spot. The second, third and fourth doubles teams also came out on top for Perk Valley, just as they had in a surprising 4-3 win over defending champion Phoenixville last week. Ethan Gelting won at second singles and Drew Brown and Tim Craybill at No. 2 doubles for the Wildcats (1-1, 1-2).

(For complete story, click here ... )

Friday, March 22, 2013


Game highlights, including post-game medal ceremony (video by Darryl Grumling/edited by Frank Otto)

By Mercury Staff

Spring-Ford's girls basketball team is golden.

The Rams beat Cumberland Valley, Friday night, 60-45, for the PIAA Class AAAA championship.

It was the first basketball title for an area school since the Pottstown boys in 1993. It was the Rams' first ever trip to the title game.

For complete coverage by Don Seeley, Austin Hertzog and Darryl Grumling, click on the below links:

Spring-Ford wins first state championship

Dynamic defense lifts Rams to PIAA crown

Superb, selfless seniors carry Spring-Ford to PIAA title

Future looks bright for Rams

There is plenty of video here and on our YouTube page at

Don't miss Saturday's print edition of The Mercury, which includes a full photo page as part of five full pages of coverage.

Spring-Ford players receive their gold medals (video by Darryl Grumling)

Spring-Ford wins the PIAA Class AAAA Championship (Video by Darryl Grumling)

* * *

Below is video from tonight's game as it happened, courtesy of Darryl Grumling (@MercSmokinD), Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) and Don Seeley (@DonSeeley1). Some clips are posted here, and all are available on our YouTube page at

After the jump you can find even more video.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford faces Cumberland Valley for PIAA-AAAA crown

Spring-Ford takes on Cumberland Valley in the PIAA-AAAA girls basketball championship game Friday night at 6 p.m. at Hershey's Giant Center.

By Darryl Grumling

From the time a lot of them first met on the basketball court, as fifth-graders, they formed a bond that through the years would become tensile-strong.
Their sorority was based on success brought about by hard work, determination and drive.
Friday night, that magical journey that began way back at their school’s 7th Grade Center has reached its final destination for the five seniors on Spring-Ford’s girls basketball team.
The Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 champion Rams (31-2) square off against District 3 No. 5 seed Cumberland Valley (26-6) at 6 p.m. at Hershey’s Giant Center with the PIAA Class AAAA championship on the line.
Spring-Ford, which has won 23 straight games and is ranked 22nd in the nation by USA Today, is attempting to bring home its first state crown in a team sport in its 48-year history.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford vs. Cumberland Valley breakdown

Brittany Moore (10), Sarah Payonk (54), Shelby Mueller (5), Courtney Hinnant (14) and the Spring-Ford girls basketball team overcame one of their toughest tests of the season Tuesday in a semifinal win over Cardinal O’Hara and are set to face District 3’s Cumberland Valley in the state championship game Friday night at Giant Center in Hershey. (John Strickler/The Mercury)

By Darryl Grumling

If you’re looking for someone to break down Friday’s PIAA Class AAAA girls basketball championship matchup between District 1 champion Spring-Ford and District 3 No. 5 seed Cumberland Valley, there’s likely no one more qualified than Mount St. Joseph Academy coach John Miller.
First off, Miller is one of the most successful and highly respected coaches in the state.
Perhaps more importantly, Miller’s squad lost just four times in 30 games this season. Two of those defeats were to Spring-Ford. The other two were to Cumberland Valley.
One thing that won’t be hard to predict is that the game will feature a battle of contrasting styles.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford’s Stipa a star generations in the making

Spring-Ford's Sammy Stipa celebrates Tuesday's PIAA-AAAA semifinal win over Cardinal O'Hara. Stipa, Brittany Moore (10) and the Rams take on Cumberland Valley for the state championship Friday at 6 at Hershey's Giant Center.

By Don Seeley

ROYERSFORD – Bob Stipa made quite a name for himself as a three-sport standout at the former Spring City High School. Mark Stipa was a pretty darn good two-sport athlete at Spring-Ford. And the late Jerry Hefelfinger was indeed revered as an outstanding three-sport athlete at the former Collegeville-Trappe High School.
But the older fellas yield to the youngest, and only female among them … Sammy Stipa.
Sammy Stipa, of course, is the 5-foot-5 dynamo who has filled many roles and filled them superbly in the rambunctious Rams’ drive to Friday night’s PIAA-Class AAAA final against Cumberland Valley at the Giant Center in Hershey.

(For complete story, click here ... )

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Lineups are set for 2nd annual PAC-10 Senior Bowl

Spring-Ford quarterback Hank Coyne (11) of the District 1-AAAA finalist Rams will share quarterbacking duties with Pottstown’s Sage Reinhart on Team Freedom for the second annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl on Sunday, June 2 at Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium. (Mercury file photo)

By Don Seeley

ROYERSFORD – The draft is over and done with. Now it’s time to play some more football.
For a good number of participants in the 2nd annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl, it’ll be the last football game they play in … and for each and every one of them, it’ll be the last game they ever play in representing their alma mater.
This year’s event kicks off 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2 at Spring-Ford High School’s Coach McNelly Stadium.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Coaching staff a big key to Spring-Ford’s success

Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury Spring-Ford head coach Jeff Rinehimer (center) and assistant coach Mickey McDaniel (in blue shirt at left) have the Rams one win away from a state championship. The Rams meet Cumberland Valley Friday night (6 p.m.) at the Giant Center in Hershey.

By Darryl Grumling

ROYERSFORD — The fact that the Spring-Ford girls basketball team has reached the PIAA Class AAAA final is a tribute to the Rams’ roster of ultra-talented and ultra-unselfish players.
It is also a tribute to the Rams’ ultra-prepared coaching staff.
When Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 champon Spring-Ford (31-2) takes on District 3 No. 5 seed Cumberland Valley (26-6) for the state championship Friday night at 6 p.m. at Hershey’s Giant Center, it will no doubt be the high point for the 14 girls who suit up for the Rams varsity.
It will also mark the apex in the 19-year tenure of Spring-Ford coach Jeff Rinehimer, as well as his first-rate group of assistants.
Rinehimer, right-hand man Mickey McDaniel (the school’s athletic director who is a volunteer assistant), assistant coach Jeff Mast, JV head coach Geoff Kahler and volunteer assistant Stacey Huntington will all be on the Rams bench attempting to come up with a winning scheme.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford ticket information

The Spring-Ford girls basketball team will play Cumberland Valley in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game 6 p.m. Friday, March 22, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Advance tickets are on sale in the high school athletic office 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, at a cost of $8.00 for adults and $4.00 for students; all tickets at the gate will be $8.00.
There will be a fan bus leaving from Spring-Ford High School Auditorium/Gymnasium 3:30 p.m. Friday. You must have a bus ticket that is available at the athletic department.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


By Mercury Staff

As you can see above, the Spring-Ford girls basketball team is headed for the state final after a 53-49 win over Cardinal O'Hara in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals.

The Rams will play Cumberland Valley on Friday at the Giant Center in Hershey at 6 p.m.

We have three stories from the game, all linked below, as well as some video posted below and more video on our YouTube channel from the game.

Keep it here all week as we get you set for the Rams' date with Cumberland Valley, as they try to become the first area basketball team in 20 years to win a state championship (Pottstown boys, 1995).

Wednesday's Stories

Follow us on Twitter @PottsMercSports, as well as writers Darryl Grumling (@MercSmokinD), Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog), Don Seeley (@DonSeeley1) for the very latest.

Below is ticket information we received from Spring-Ford late Tuesday night:

Advance reserved-seat tickets for the PIAA Class AAAA girls basketball championship game between Spring-Ford and Cumberland Valley will go on sale in the high-school athletic office 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, and again 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday while supplies last. Tickets are priced at $8.00 for adults and $4.00 for students.

Fan-bus information will be released by the school Thursday

Monday, March 18, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford faces Cardinal O’Hara in PIAA semifinal

Last season ended in disappointment for Sammy Stipa and the Spring-Ford girls basketball team in the semifinals of the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament, a loss to Archbishop Carroll. The Rams return to that same stage tonight when they meet Cardinal O’Hara in a PIAA semifinal at William Tennent High School (7:30 p.m.). (Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)

By Darryl Grumling

Spring-Ford girls basketball seniors Sarah Payonk, Brittany Moore, Courtney Hinnant, Sammi Haas and their teammates have waited a year for this.
Since suffering a season-ending loss to powerful Archbishop Carroll in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinal 364 days ago, the returning Rams made it their mission to at least get back to that point.
And like General Douglas MacArthur, the Rams have indeed returned.
Tonight, Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1-AAAA champion Spring-Ford (30-2) squares off against District 12 champ Cardinal O’Hara (24-5) in a state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. at William Tennent High School in Warminster.

(For complete story, click here ... )

COLLEGE SIGNING: Spring-Ford triple-threat Sheldon joining Bucknell football program

Spring-Ford senior R.J. Sheldon recently signed a letter of intent to play football at Bucknell University on a football scholarship. Sheldon is pictured with his parents Rich, left, and Sue, right, and sister Alyssa. (Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)

By Don Seeley

ROYERSFORD – R.J. Sheldon has been very flexible and quite agreeable throughout his athletic career at Spring-Ford.
Give him a position to play in baseball and football, or an event to compete in swimming, and Sheldon was there … without any opposition, without the least bit of hesitation.
And while Sheldon has enjoyed his share of success in all three sports, as well as in the classroom – where he’s a member of the National Honor Society – he’ll soon be narrowing his grueling year-round schedule to include just one sport and, of course, academics.
Sheldon made that choice recently, albeit a surprising one to many who have played with or followed him the past three-plus years, after signing a national letter of intent to line up in Bucknell University’s football program.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Mercury Sports Live NCAA Tournament Challenge!

By Mercury Staff

You love sports, we love sports. Who doesn't love the NCAA Tournament?

Here at the Mercury, we decided to put our readers to the test with an NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge!

Click here to enter your picks.

If you don't have a Yahoo! account, you can easily make one for free.

The deadline to enter is Thursday at noon!

Our top three finishers will receive yet-to-be-determined prizes from The Mercury -- likely gift cards or sports tickets -- as well as all-important bragging rights on your block.

Members of The Mercury staff will also join in (but not be eligible for prizes), so see if you can beat the (not-so) experts!

Tweet us @PottsMercSports after you make your picks and let us know your bracket name so we can give you credit on Twitter for all your great picks! Be sure to use your real name so we can contact you if you're a winner.

If you don't know the difference between Bucknell and Belmont, and need some help with your bracket, check out our BracketAdvisor tool by clicking here! (or click "see more" to use the tool in this post). 

Follow the Bracket Advisor folks on Twitter @BracketAdvisor.

BOYS BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Ten moments to remember from 2012-13 season

Perkiomen Valley first-year coach Mike Poysden cut down the net after his team won the PAC-10 championship this season. It was one of a number of highlights from the 2012-13 season for local boys teams. (Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)

By Jeff Stover

Another basketball season went into the record books this past week ... a scant four months after it kicked off with hope and hype in gymnasiums around the area.
It was around this time in November hundreds of players at local schools turned out for preseason practices, dreams of hardwood glory as abundant. Some of those dreams started coming to fruition a month later when the teams got their game schedules underway, while others withered as the ebb and flow of victory and defeat came into play.
As has been the case in past years, individual and team successes were realized over three months of competition. Here, in no particular order, are some of those outstanding moments that made the 2012-13 season one to remember locally. 

( To read the complete story, click here )

Friday, March 15, 2013

SWIMMING: PIAA Championships - Friday Session

By Steve Moore

I apologize in advance for my video skills, but it was worth a try. Below you'll find some video from the Friday night boys finals at the PIAA Championships at Bucknell.

My complete story from Friday's session can be found here.

Daniel Boone's Ryan Owens swims in the 200 free final, he finished 8th:

The Boyertown 200 medley relay swims to a 15th-place finish:

The Owen J. Roberts 200 free relay swims to a 13th-place finish:

The wild final in the 200 free relay. La Salle (blue cap) was touched out at the end by Hershey:

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Payonk paying off in big way for Spring-Ford

Spring-Ford’s Sarah Payonk goes to the hoop as Dover’s Kara Funk defends during their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal Friday night at Garden Spot High School. (Photo by Barry Taglieber)

By Darryl Grumling

NEW HOLLAND — Off the basketball court, Sarah Payonk is one of Spring-Ford’s brightest students.
On the court, she is one of the Rams’ most dangerous weapons.
Dover found that out in Friday night’s PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal, as Payonk’s powerful performance helped Spring-Ford come away with a 67-45 victory at Garden Spot High School.
Payonk, a 5-foot-11 senior forward, scored 15 points to share team-high honors with Sammy Stipa and also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and blocked four shots for the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 champion Rams (30-2), who won their 22nd straight game.
“Sarah’s a really big asset to our team,” said fellow senior starter Sammi Haas. “She’s a good leader, she knows the game and she’s very smart. She’s not as loud on the court as me or (senior) Courtney (Hinnant); she’s more likely to give a pep talk in the locker room and tell us what needs to be done. She talks when she needs to talk.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford stops Dover to return to PIAA semifinals

Spring-Ford's Sammy Stipa comes up with the ball ahead of Dover's Alayah Hall and Megan Lokhaiser on a loose ball during the first half of their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal Friday night at Garden Spot High School. (Photo by Barry Taglieber)

By Dennis Weller

NEW HOLLAND — All season long, the Spring-Ford girls have been on a mission to make it further than they did last year. And after 32 games, that goal is finally right at their fingertips after they advanced to the PIAA Class AAAA Final Four for the second straight season on Friday night with a 67-45 win over Dover at Garden Spot High School.
One Ram or another seemed to have a hot hand the entire night as five players scored at least nine points, including 15 apiece by Sammy Stipa and Sarah Payonk. Alayah Hall scored 20 for Dover. Spring-Ford (30-2) will face Cardinal O’Hara, a 60-24 winner over Central Dauphin, in a Tuesday semifinal at a time and place to be determined.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Thursday, March 14, 2013

SWIMMING: 400 free relay seals 5th place for Upper Perkiomen

Upper Perkiomen's Jason Mercando swims in the 400 freestyle relay during Friday morning's preliminaries at the PIAA Swimming Championships at Bucknell University. (Photo by Craig Himmelwright)

By Rosemarie Ross

LEWISBURG – What seemed very much as an Upper Perkiomen Cinderella story at states last year exploded into a major success story this season as the Indians closed out the 2013 PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships.
Punctuated by an appearance in the finals of the event’s final race – the 400-yard freestyle relay – a fifth-place finish sealed a fifth-place finish in the team standings Thursday night at the Bucknell University Kinney Natatorium.
It only underlined how far the Tribe has come in one short year.
The Tribe made it a relay trifecta Thursday, Mason Cassel, Kyle Himmelwright, Jason Mercando and Hunter Peck advancing to the 400-yard freestyle championship finals with the fifth fastest time in the prelims, bettering their own school record with a 3:16.21. The foursome went on to place fifth in the finals (3:16.27).

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford, Dover square off in PIAA quarterfinal

Sammy Stipa, left, and Sarah Payonk, right, lead Spring-Ford into tonight’s PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal against District 3 No. 4 seed Dover at Garden Spot High School. (File photo by John Strickler/The Mercury)

By Darryl Grumling

There are many factors that make Spring-Ford the most feared girls basketball team in the state.
The Rams’ superior skill level. Their bountiful blend of size, experience and depth. Their top-notch coaching staff.
But the No. 1 reason for the squad’s dominant run over the past two seasons remains its determined attention to defensive detail.
Whether it be their furious fullcourt trap or dogged halfcourt man-to-man set, the Rams ‘D’ has been nothing short of Grade A.
Spring-Ford hopes to continue that trend Friday, when the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 champion Rams (29-2) — ranked 24th in the latest USA Today Super 25 national ratings — take on District 3 No. 4 seed Dover (27-3) in a PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal at 6 p.m. at Garden Spot High.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford ticket information

Advance tickets for Spring-Ford's PIAA-AAAA girls basketball quarterfinal Friday night at 6 p.m. at Garden Spot High against Dover will be on sale in the Spring-Ford athletic office Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults: $6. Students: $3. All tickets at door: $6.

A fan bus ($3, tickets must be purchased from the athletic office during the above times) will depart the high school gymnasium/auditorium entrance at 4 p.m. Friday.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


First Team
Brendan Casper, Methacton, Sr.; Matt Crider, Owen J. Roberts, Jr.; Marcus Howell, Phoenixville, Sr.; Brent Mahoney, Pope John Paul II, Sr.; Zameer McDowell, Spring-Ford, Sr.; Purnell Wilson, Perkiomen Valley, Jr.
Second Team
Matt Forrest, Methacton, Sr.; Denzel Harvey, Pottstown, Jr.; Steve Leonard, Perkiomen Valley, Sr.; Mike Mansur, Boyertown, Sr.; Jamel Stinson, Pope John Paul II, Sr.
Honorable Mention
Ryan Corcoran, Boyertown, Soph.; Deandre’ Gadsden, Phoenixville, Soph.; Chandler Junk, Upper Perkiomen, Jr.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS SWIMMING: Phantoms’ senior trio bids teary farewell with strong finish

Photo by Craig Himmelwright Phoenixville’s Devonne Moore swims the breaststroke during the 200 individual medley preliminaries.

By Rosemarie Ross

LEWISBURG — It was a bittersweet farewell swim for the Phoenixville girls, the area’s lone AA girls qualifiers, as they placed second in the 200 medley relay with a team record 1:51.18 in the night consolation finals — with Erin McElwee, Devonne Moore, Shawna Moore and Eileen Butler — on Day 1 of the PIAA Class championships at Bucknell University.
McElwee, Devonne Moore and Butler are seniors, and have been swimming together since they were splashing around the Phoenixville YMCA and neighborhood pools in elementary school. After four years on the high school team, this was their final relay.
“I’ve been swimming with these girls since I was 10 years old,” said the teary-eyed McElwee, the relay’s leadoff swimmer. “We’re all really good friends. And it’s really hard, bittersweet because we have all gone through it together for so many years. No one knows how hard we all really work. And now our last time together.
“It’s sad, but it’s also really exciting to reflect on all that we have done. And to set a new record again in our last swim was great.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

BOYS SWIMMING: Upper Perk takes third in 200 medley relay for second straight year

Photo by Craig Himmelwright Mason Cassel touches the wall on the butterfly leg of the 200 medley relay as teammate Kyle Himmelwright leaves the block for the freestyle leg on Wednesday.

By Rosemarie Ross

LEWISBURG — With time running out on their high school swimming careers, the Upper Perkiomen seniors came here determined to make the best of their last chance.
The Tribe veterans — with a few new faces mixed in — did just that on Day 1 of the PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University.
The 200 medley relay team of Kyle Himmelwright, Quinn Perlstein, Mason Cassel and Brandon Umstead finished third in the finals with a time of 1:38.64. It was the second straight bronze in the event for the Tribe at states, and set a new school record in the event.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: PJP’s comeback bid falls short vs. Carroll

Photo by Adrianna Hoff/JRC Pope John Paul’s Brent Mahoney looks for an opening around Archbishop Carroll’s Joe Mustardi and Zafir Copeland on Tuesday night at Colonial Elementary School.

By Dennis Weller

WHITEMARSH — The Pope John Paul II boys had already accomplished their yearly goals and advanced a step further than ever before in both the district and state playoffs heading into their PIAA-AAA Tournament second-round contest on Tuesday night.
But that didn’t mean that they were willing to pack it in for the season, not even after giving up 10 straight points to Archbishop Carroll to start the game and falling behind by 15 after a quarter. PJP rallied to cut the deficit to just three with a little over a quarter to go, but Carroll countered with its second double-digit run of the night and ended the Golden Panthers’ season, 57-40, at Colonial Elementary.
Brent Mahoney scored 13 to lead PJP (16-10) and fellow senior Jamel Stinson followed with 10 points. But the Panthers had trouble containing Carroll 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Derrick Jones, who piled up 16 points, 19 rebounds, and eight blocked shots.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Moore helps Spring-Ford reach PIAA quarterfinals

Photo by Barry Taglieber Spring-Ford’s Brittany Moore tries to go around Wallenpaupack’s Nickole Mann on Tuesday night.

By Darryl Grumling

BETHLEHEM TWP. — Brittany Moore’s senior girls basketball season didn’t exactly begin the way she envisioned it -- with a high ankle sprain.
But the Spring-Ford guard certainly appears to be finishing her final campaign with a flourish.
Tuesday night at Freedom High, Moore was at the forefront as the Rams gutted out a 58-44 victory over a dead-game Wallenpaupack squad in a PIAA-AAAA Tournament second-round game.
Senior forward Courtney Hinnant and junior guard Sammy Stipa scored 10 points each for the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1-AAAA champion Rams (29-2), who won their 21st straight game and advanced to Friday’s state quarterfinal against District 3 No. 4 seed Dover (27-3), a 42-38 winner over Nazareth.

(For complete story, click here ...)

SWIMMING: Diving provides safe haven for PV’s Ott after fire ravages family home

Photo by Ted Hodgins Perkiomen Valley’s Chase Ott will compete in the PIAA Diving Championships this week at Bucknell.

By Rosemarie Ross

LEWISBURG — The start of 2013 could not have been a more depressing for Perkiomen Valley standout diver Chase Ott and his family.
Sound asleep in his family’s Schwenkesville home, Ott suddenly awakened to the fire alarms blasting throughout the house on a cold January night around 1 a.m.
“When the alarms went off I woke up and stepped out of my room and there was smoke everywhere,” Ott recalled last week. “We had a wooden stove and we thought it was just smoke coming out of the stove, But then we could hear the wall crackling. Something wasn’t right. Then the wall caught on fire. And we ran out, grabbed the dogs, pulled the cars out of the garage, called the fire company.
“It was rough, it was scary. But we were just focusing on getting everyone out and safe. It wasn’t necessarily being scared, it was more like had my adrenaline going. Afterward, watching the house go up in flames, that’s what was sad.”
Everyone did make it out safely. But most of the house was gone, damaged by either the fire, water or smoke.

(For complete story, click here ... )

ATHLETES OF THE WEEK: Boyertown’s Jordan Wood and Spring-Ford’s Courtney Hinnant

Boyertown's Jordan Wood
Spring-Ford's Courtney Hinnant.

By Mercury Staff


Jordan Wood

What he has done
Freshman 220-pounder advanced to the title bout of the PIAA-AAA Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center Saturday before falling to Solacno’s Thomas Haines via 7-2 decision. Wood, who finished 46-2 on the year, had won 32 straight bouts heading into the state final, including a 7-4 semifinal decision over Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s Zach DeLucia.

What he says
“I knew about him and I went out knowing I had to wrestle a two-time defending state champion in my head. I’m not mad about losing, I’m just mad about the way I wrestled. (Haines) wrestled a lot better. I wrestled defensively, and that can’t be your mindset when you go out there for any match.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

Monday, March 11, 2013

COLLEGE SIGNING: OJR’s Dempsey to play soccer at Iona

Owen J. Roberts senior Taylor Dempsey, center, recently signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Division I Iona College. Dempsey is pictured with his parents Mike Dempsey, left, and Susan Marks, right, and OJR head coach Eric Wentzel. (Photo submitted)

By Steven Moore

Taylor Dempsey had his mind made up last fall. He was ready to enjoy the rest of his senior year at Owen J. Roberts without the pressure of a college decision hanging over his head.
Then Mount St. Mary’s University (Md.) decided to cut three varsity sports programs – including men’s soccer.
Dempsey was back to square one.
Then he got a call from Iona College – a school he admits he “had never heard of” before.
“Around Thanksgiving, I had two tournaments and they saw me play and I had numerous calls,” said Dempsey, who signed a letter of intent to play at Iona, a school just north of Manhattan in New Rochelle, N.Y. “They seemed to be one of the more interested schools.
“The past four years, they’ve been ranked in the top 25 many times, and the school doesn’t have a football team, so soccer is one of the bigger sports there,” Dempsey said.” The coaches are really nice and they made me feel like they wanted me a lot.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

WRESTLING: Unparalleled season doesn’t lessen pain of Wood missing golden dream

Solanco’s Thomas Haines, left, wrestles Boyertown’s Jordan Wood in the 220-pound final at the PIAA Class AAA high school wrestling championships Saturday, March 9, 2013, in Hershey. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

By Don Seeley

If there’s one thing each and every little fella or gal involved in sports has in common it’s dreams … dreams of hitting that game-winning home run, dreams of swishing the game-winning shot; dreams of catching the game-winning pass.
Dreams of being in the headlines.
Dreams of being in the spotlight.
Dreams of being the best there is.
No one knows for sure when Jordan Wood first dreamt of winning a state wrestling title … when he imagined jumping into his coaches’ arms, stepping up onto the top step of the awards podium with a gold medal around his neck, then being mobbed by youngsters begging for his autograph.
Last Saturday night during the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, in front of 8,000-plus fans watching his every move in what is arguably the most challenging state tournament of its kind in the entire nation, the Boyertown freshman nearly got to live his dream.
Few do, of course. Even fewer come as close as Wood did with his second-place finish.

(For complete story, click here ...)

WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: Owen J. Roberts trio makes medal sweep at states

Owen J. Roberts’ Gordon Bolig helped the Wildcats go 3-for-3 in state medalists when he finished eighth at the PIAA Championships over the weekend. Bolig joined teammates Derek Gulotta and Cloby Frank on the medal stand. (Photo by Nate Heckenberger)

By Don Seeley

Owen J. Roberts had a season of seconds and thirds – good seconds and thirds, that is – as in a second straight District 1-Class AAA Team Duals title and a third straight Pioneer Athletic Conference championship.
And if that wasn’t enough, the program came up with yet another first – three state medalists. And that was also another first for the PAC-10 being that no team had ever taken three or more qualifiers to the PIAA Championships and had each and every one of them return home with a medal.
It was indeed an up-and-down three days, or more like a follow-the-leader type three days, for Derek Gulotta (113 pounds), Colby Frank (126) and Gordon Bolig (182). All three won their openers, then dropped their quarterfinals, came back with wins in the second round of consolations, fell in the third round of consolations, and closed with losses in their seventh-place finals.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Sunday, March 10, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Change of scenery suits Pope John Paul II

By Jeff Stover
Pope John Paul II's Nick Demeno (right)

 A change of scenery proved therapeutic for Pope John Paul II this week ... a lengthy commute notwithstanding.
After two years of venturing to Philadelphia for the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs, the Golden Panthers got a different venue this season. They traveled north Friday afternoon to face off against Bethlehem Catholic at Bethlehem Freedom High School — a 55-mile one-way trek, which took the team bus about 1½ hours to make.
But it’s a safe bet the players, coaches and faithful fans didn’t bemoan the extensive travel time for PJP’s latest state opener. Not after the Panthers came home with a 59-56 victory over the Golden Hawks that was the program’s first ever at the state level.
“The last couple years, we didn’t get it done,” head coach Jack Flanagan said afterward. In its two previous visits to South Philadelphia High School, PJP saw its season ended by losses to Philadelphia Electrical (62-56) and Boys Latin (70-49). 

( To read the complete story, click here )

GIRLS BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Eisenhard, Watson close out standout careers

By Darryl Grumling
Boyertown's Kaitlyn Eisenhard; @MercSmokinD

Methacton's Kelsey Watson
For the past two years, Methacton and Boyertown have been somewhat obscured by the giant shadow Spring-Ford’s girls basketball team has cast over the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
That didn’t stop either the Warriors or Bears from enjoying rewarding campaigns this winter, nor did it stop Kelsey Watson and Kaitlyn Eisenhard from making their presence felt in their final scholastic seasons.
The end of the road for each standout player came Friday night, when Watson and Methacton fell to Cardinal O’Hara, 46-34, and Eisenhard and Boyertown were defeated 57-37 by Central Dauphin in a pair of PIAA-AAAA Tournament openers.
By the time the final horn had sounded in both games, though, Watson and Eisenhard had already cemented their legacies as two of the best in their respective schools’ histories.

( To read the complete story, click here )

Saturday, March 9, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: Methacton's late rally falls short vs. Wililam Penn

Methacton’s Justin Ardman eyes the basket against William Penn’s Jahaire Wilson in the second half of a PIAA Class AAAA game Saturday at Dallastown Area High School. William Penn beat Methacton, 67-63. (Photo by Chris Dunn/Digital First Medi)

By Colin Snyder
York Daily Record/Sunday News

DALLASTOWN — Survive and advance.
It was what William Penn was trying to do Saturday night.
The upset-minded Warriors of Methacton very nearly send the Bearcats home disappointed.
The District 3 runner-up Bearcats saw an 18-point, third-quarter lead dwindle to as little as a basket Saturday evening at Dallastown High School, before escaping with a 67-63 win over Methacton.
“Methacton played like their season was on the line,” Sowers said. “They were nailing threes with our arms up. I don’t know what else we could do.
“When we are missing foul shots and they are making threes, things can change pretty quick. We shot horrific from the line in that quarter. Everybody is good in the Quad-A state tournament. We wanted the W and I’ll take it.”

WRESTLING: Boyertown’s Jordan Wood finishes second at states

Photo by Nate Heckenberger Boyertown’s Jordan Wood battles with Solanco’s Thomas Haines in the 220-pound final on Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

By Don Seeley

HERSHEY — Jordan Wood came oh so close to being where Thomas Haines was two years ago.
The Boyertown 220-pounder, arguably the best freshman upperweight in the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s 27-year history and absolutely one of the best upperweights in District 1’s eightysome-year history, lost a 7-2 decision to Haines during Saturday night’s final round of the PIAA-Class AAA Championships ... and that’s the same Thomas Haines who was touted as one of the best freshman upperweights in the Lancaster-Lebanon League and in all of District 3 when he won his first state title in 2011.

(For complete story, click here ... )

WRESTLING: Methacton’s Tracey Green takes 6th in PIAA-AAA championships

Photo by Nate Heckenberger Methacton’s Tracey Green tries to hold down Warwick’s Tom Devenney in a 2-0 loss in the 285-pound fifth-place bout on Saturday night in Hershey.

By Don Seeley

HERSHEY — Tracey Green wasn’t exactly on Pennsylvania wrestling’s radar screen when the season opened last December.
But he is now ... and will be when next season gets under way this December.
The undersized but overachieving Methacton junior proved he was among the state’s premier heavyweights this weekend by finishing sixth at 285 pounds during the PIAA-Class AAA Championships at the Giant Center.
The noticably shorter and lighter Green, surrendering upwards of 5-to-6 inches and 35-to-50 pounds to his opponents all year, won three of his six bouts over the grueling three days here, dropping his last one, 2-0, to Warwick senior Tom Devenney.
Green was the fifth and final Pioneer Athletic Conference medalist on the mats Saturday night, joining Boyertown’s Jordan Wood (second at 220), and Owen J. Roberts’ threesome of Derek Gulotta (eighth at 113), Colby Frank (eighth at 126) and Gordon Bolig (eighth at 182).

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Pope John Paul II falls to Archbishop Wood

 By Dennis Weller

RADNOR — Just when one wave began to recede, the Pope John Paul II girls were hit by another one in Saturday afternoon’s PIAA-AAA opening round basketball contest. And that’s the way it went the whole time as three-time defending state champion Archbishop Wood brought in five fresh players at a time every three or four minutes and suffered no decrease in effectiveness while washing the Golden Panthers away into the off-season, 60-39 at Archbishop John Carroll High School.
Madison Tamburini scored 13 points for the Vikings (18-9), eight of them during a 22-0 first quarter and the rest in the second. Senior Haley Mesaros topped PJP (18-7) – making its first state appearance in the school’s three-year history - with 13 points, classmate Taylor Bearden followed with eight, and junior Kelly Moore and freshman Gabby Troisi each added five.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Hinnant helps balanced Spring-Ford past Hershey in state opener

Spring-Ford's Courtney Hinnant scores a layup late in the second quarter against Hershey during their PIAA Class AAAA Tournament first round game Friday night at Norristown High School. (Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)

By Darryl Grumling

NORRISTOWN — Were she on any other team — in the Pioneer Athletic Conference, District 1 or the entire state — Courtney Hinnant would likely be a starter.
Problem is, the squad that Hinnant suits up for, Spring-Ford, has a starting lineup that is simply stacked.
With the sudden offseason emergence of players such as Shelby Mueller and Sammi Haas, Rams coach Jeff Rinehimer made the tough decision to bring Hinnant (who started most of last year) off the bench this season.
Rather than rebel, however, the 5-foot-10 senior forward has embraced the move — which has in turn strengthened Spring-Ford’s already formidable rotation.
Friday night at Norristown High, Hinnant showed what she is capable of in helping the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 champion Rams down District 3 No. 7 seed Hershey 59-41 in a PIAA Class AAAA Tournament opener.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Friday, March 8, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Cardinal O’Hara overwhelms Methacton

Methacton’s Kelsey Watson (22) scored 13 points in the Warriors’ season-ending loss to Cardinal O’Hara Friday night in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament. (File photo by Mark C Psoras\JRC)

By Denny Dyroff

UPPER DARBY — The first half of Friday night’s game between Methacton and Cardinal O’Hara had a bit of an undertaker vibe.
The O’Hara girls were burying threes with amazing ease in the PIAA Class AAAA girls basketball opening round game at Bonner-Prendergast High’s gym. Methacton, on the other hand, was digging a hole for itself that was almost too deep to allow escape.
The second half was a different game. O’Hara didn’t make a three-point basket the entire half and the Warriors outplayed the team from Delaware County for long stretches in both the third and fourth quarters.
Methacton closed to within six in the final half of the fourth quarter. But the experienced Lions, who are ranked third in the state, withstood the surge and held on for a hard-fought 46-34 victory.

(For complete story, click here ...)

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Central Dauphin catches fire, eliminates Boyertown, 57-39

Kaitlyn Eisenhard, right, and the Boyertown girls basketball team saw their season come to an end Friday night in a PIAA Class AAAA Tournament opening round loss to Central Dauphin. (Mercury file photo)

By Dennis Weller

DERRY — Despite getting off to a typical slow start, the Boyertown girls were happy with where they were at halftime after rallying for a three-point lead in Friday night’s opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA Basketball Tournament.
But the Bears trailed again after turning the ball over too many times in the third quarter and then fell victim to nearly perfect shooting in the final quarter by Central Dauphin in a season-ending 57-39 loss at Milton Hershey School’s Spartan Center.

(For complete story, click here ...)

BOYS BASKETBALL: Pope John Paul II wins first PIAA playoff game in school history

Nick Demeno came off the bench to score eight crucial fourth-quarter points while helping Pope John Paul II outlast Bethlehem Catholic, 59-56, to advance to the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs for the first time in school history. (File photo by Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)

By Jeff Stover

BETHLEHEM TWP. — He came up with the battle cry for Pope John Paul II’s entry into the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.
Then Nick Demeno put his basketball talents where his mantra was Friday, helping the Golden Panthers outlast Bethlehem Catholic, 59-56, at Bethlehem Freedom High School.

(For complete story, click here ...)

WRESTLING: Wood wins his way into semifinals at PIAA Championships; four others make final day

Boyertown's Jordan Wood nears a first-period takedown against Parkland's Shaun Heist in a 6-1 victory in the 220-pound quarterfinals Friday at the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey. Wood was the lone PAC-10 wrestler to advance to the semifinals. (Photo by Nate Heckenberger)

By Don Seeley

HERSHEY — Jordan Wood is becoming a perfectionist ... at 14 years of age.
The Boyertown freshman wasn’t at all happy with his debut in Thursday’s opening round of the PIAA-Class AAA Wrestling Championships here at the Giant Center. He won, mind you, but beating a returning state qualifier two years his elder with over 100 career wins wasn’t good enough.
But his 6-1 win over Parkland’s Shaun Heist in Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals was a bit more acceptable for the brawling, baby-faced 220-pounder.
“I didn’t like (Thursday’s win) at all,” Wood said after his otherwise dominating performance with Heist earned him a berth in this morning’s semifinals against Southwest Regional champion Zach DeLuca (40-7) and, regardless of the outcome, clinched a medal.
Owen J. Roberts’ Derek Gulotta (113), Colby Frank (126) and Gordon Bolig (182) all lost in Friday’s quarterfinals, as did Methacton’s Tracey Green (285). But all four regrouped in a hurry and came back with wins during the second round of consolations to clinch medals as well.
Boyertown 126-pounder Eddie Kriczky, who offset an opening round loss with a stunner over a regional champion and medal favorite on opening day, was eliminated one win shy of the medal rounds.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford opens state tourney action

Darryl Grumling was at Norristown High tonight, where the top-seeded Spring-Ford girls basketball team opened state tournament play with a 59-41 win over Hershey, the No. 7 seed out of District 3.

The Rams will play Wallenpaupack Area on Tuesday at a site and time to be announced.

Darryl provided some video from Norristown, which is posted below. Check back later for a complete story from the game, as well as other area games Friday night.

Hinnant follow-up basket:

Hinnant foul shots:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

WRESTLING: OJR’s Gulotta leads five locals into quarterfinals at PIAA Championships

Owen J. Roberts' Derek Gulotta celebrates after his first-period pin of Pleasant Valley's Kenny Yanovich at 113 in the first round of the PIAA Championships Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey. (Photo by Nate Heckenberger)

By Don Seeley

HERSHEY — Derek Gulotta was about uncharacteristically relaxed prior to Thursday afternoon’s opening round of the PIAA-Class AAA Wrestling Championships.
Once he got onto the mat, he was anything but.
Owen J. Roberts’ 113-pound sophomore needed less than a half-minute to take down Pleasant Valley’s Kenny Yanovich and only 96 seconds overall to lock in a cradle and pin him to debut with an impressive win and underline a perfect three-for-three showing by the Wildcats’ state qualifiers.
Gulotta, along with teammates Colby Frank (126) and Gordon Bolig (182), advanced into today’s (1:30 p.m.) quarterfinals, where they’ll be joined by Boyertown’s Jordan Wood (220) and Methacton’s Tracey Green (285) ... all needing one more win to guarantee themselves a spot in the medal rounds.

(For complete story, click here ... )

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Spring-Ford leads four area squads into PIAA tourney

Starters Sarah Payonk, left, Sammi Haas, second left, and the Spring-Ford girls basketball team begin their quest for a state title when the PIAA Championships get under way Friday. The Rams reached the semifinals a year ago. (File photo by Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)

By Darryl Grumling

The whiteboard in the locker room of Spring-Ford’s girls basketball team, the one with a laundry list of goals for the season, has seen plenty of checkmarks over the past several weeks.
An unbeaten Pioneer Athletic Conference regular season? Done.
Second straight PAC-10 championship? Cross it off.
Back-to-back District 1-AAAA titles? Taken care of.
Tonight, Spring-Ford will begin the quest for its ultimate goal — PIAA gold — as the Rams (27-2) square off with District 3 No. 7 seed Hershey (21-5) in a Class AAAA opener at Norristown at 7:30 p.m.
Three other PAC-10 girls squads — Boyertown, Methacton and Pope John Paul II — are also set to begin state tourney play.
In other AAAA openers tonight, the District 1 No. 7 seed Bears (19-9) face District 3 runner-up Central Dauphin (20-6) at Milton Hershey at 8 p.m., and District 1 No. 9 seed Methacton (24-6) takes on District 12 champ Cardinal O’Hara (22-5) at Monsignor Bonner at 7:30 p.m.
In Class AAA first-round action Saturday, District 1 No. 3 seed Pope John Paul II (18-6) meets District 12 runner-up and three-time defending PIAA champ Archbishop Wood (16-8) at 5 p.m. at Archbishop Carroll.

(For complete story, click here ... )

BOYS BASKETBALL: PJP, Methacton push on to PIAA Tournament

Brendan Casper (24) leads the Methacton boys basketball team into the PIAA Tournament, which begins Friday. The Warriors are due to face District 3 runner-up William Penn High School out of York. (Mark C Psoras/JRC)

By Jeff Stover

They’ve both navigated the tricky – and sometimes treacherous – waters of the District 1 playoffs the past two weeks, and remained upright during that span.
Now, Pope John Paul II and Methacton embark on a different voyage this weekend: The PIAA Tournament, which brings together Pennsylvania’s 30-plus top teams from four classifications for another two weeks of competition leading to state championships. The Golden Panthers, fresh off a second-place finish in the District 1-AAA tourney, will open today against District 11 runner-up Bethlehem Catholic; the Warriors, in turn, make their debut in state-level competition 6:30 p.m. at Dallastown High Saturday against District 3 runner-up William Penn High School out of York.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

WRESTLING: PIAA preview capsules

By Don Seeley

(A preview of the weight classes featuring local qualifiers)
113 Pounds
Local Qualifier: Derek Gulotta, Owen J. Roberts (38-6, 74-17 career), who opens against Pleasant Valley junior Kenny Yanovich (34-4) – a returning state qualifier.
The Bracket: Defending state champion Ethan Lizak (40-2, 116-13), also runner-up in 2011, headlines the weight class. In addition to Gulotta (eighth), there are five other returning state medalists — two-timers Tanner Shoap (38-7, 147-25) of Chambersburg; Jake Gromacki (29-2) of Erie Cathedral Prep; and Zach Fuentes (43-4, 178-35) of Norristown; as well as Domenic Forys (39-3, 117-15) of North Allegheny and Scott Parker (32-1, 101-8) of Pennridge.
Others to Watch: Waynesburg Central sophomore A.C. Headlee (39-3, 81-6) and Mifflin County freshman Hayden Hidlay (27-5).