NEW HOLLAND - Sarah Payonk, Sammy Stipa and the rest of the Spring-Ford girls basketball players have put themselves in the exact same position they were a year ago in terms of the state playoffs.
The Rams defeated Dover, 67-45, Friday night at Garden Spot High School to advance to Tuesday night’s PIAA Class AAAA semifinal round against Cardinal O’Hara, a 60-24 winner over Central Dauphin, at a site and time to be determined.
Payonk, a senior forward, and Stipa, a junior guard, each scored 15 points to help lead the Rams (30-2) over the York-area based Eagles (27-4), the fourth seed from District 3 which won 23 straight games to start the season.
“We definitely were looking at things we didn’t do as well in our game Tuesday (against Wallenpaupack),” said Payonk. “We wanted to pick up the intensity on defense, making better decisions and taking care of the ball.”
Payonk bunched 11 of her points with one trey in the third quarter as Spring-Ford moved out to a 51-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Stipa tallied nine of her points with one trey in the second quarter as the Rams held a 32-21 lead at the break.
“Every play we go hard,” said Payonk “We are still working our hardest. We play as a team and we are proud of the team dynamic we have.”
Payonk also had eight rebounds, four blocked shots and one assist on the night. Stipa had five boards and four assists. Sammi Haas finished with 11 points, including a pair of triples, two assists, one block, one steal and one rebound as the third player in double figures for the typically balanced Rams.
Courtney Hinnant turned in nine points, eight boardss, three assists and one steal. Shelby Mueller had a fast start with five points in the opening stanza and ended up with nine markers, six rebounds and one assist. Brittany Moore notched five of the Rams’ nine steals as they forced 25 Dover turnvoers while committing 15 themselves.
Junior guard Alayah Hall paced the Eagles with 20 points, one trey, 7-for-8 foul shooting, four rebounds, three assists and one steal. Megan Lokhaiser, a 5-11 junior forward, had 10 points with one trey, three assists, one steal and one rebound. Marissa McMahon, a 5-11 sophomore forward, pulled down eight boards (six offensive) while scoring four points.
“When I come in the game, I do whatever I can to help out the team and to pick the team up,” said Hinnant, a senior forward. “We don’t have one set person every night to do the job. We have other people who can step up. We have a lot of depth. We focus on one game at a time, and we keep a positive attitude.”
The Rams scored the first six points of the game on a Mueller bucket with a pass from Haas, another Mueller bucket and a driving layup by Moore off an inbounds pass at the 5:19 mark.
The score was tight at 11-9 in favor of the Rams at 3:07 of the first period before Spring-Ford ended the quarter with a 6-0 run. Hinnant canned the second of two free throw attempts, Has nailed a trey from the top of the key and Hinnant hit a putback to make it 17-9 Rams after one period.
“We were trying to make sure we took some time off the clock,” said Spring-Ford coach Jeff Rinehimer. “You have to get to the hole. That’s playoffs, get to the basket. Get around the basket. You’ve gotta get on the foul line.”
Spring-Ford shot 24-for-51 from the floor and 15-for-27 at the foul line. Dover shot 13-for-42 from the field and 17-for-23 at the charity stripe.
The Rams outrebounded the Eagles, 31-22.