ROYERSFORD - Spring-Ford’s 2012-13 PIAA Class AAAA state championship girls basketball team will be remembered for its depth, talent, defense, teamwork and work ethic, along with numerous other intangible assets.
The Rams compiled an impressive 32-2 overall record in winning Pioneer Athletic Conference, District 1 and PIAA titles along with a four crown at the KSA Pre-Holiday Classic in Florida. They won their final 24 games in a row, capped by the 60-45 state title victory over Cumberland Valley, a tall team from the Mechanicsburg area in District 3.
Spring-Ford dropped its season opener to Notre Dame, 58-56, in the Blue Chip Tip Off Tournament, and the only other setback came against Saint Anthony’s of New York, 52-39, in the Under Armor Classic back on Jan. 5.
But the Rams also scored a highly impressive victory over Ossining, N.Y., in New York, 81-65, back on Feb. 2 that caught a lot of eyes and brought the Rams kudos from well beyond the immediate area.
The Rams scored 2,061 points in their 34 contests for a 60.6 average. They allowed just 1,288 markers for a stingy 37.9 points allowed per outing. They breezed through most of their games in winning by an average margin of 22.7 points per game.
Head coach Jeff Rinehimer guided the Rams throughout the historic campaign along with his able cast of assistant coaches.
Last year, the Rams reached the state semifinal round before bowing to Archbishop Carroll from the Philadelphia Catholic League. They graduated Mariah Traywick, a center who has gone on to Shippensburg University; and guards Nikki Lynch and Jaida Burgess from that contingent.
Still, there were a lot of high expectations for the Rams coming into this season because they still had so many quality players returning from last year who had been through the wars while acquiring valuable game experience while playing under pressure conditions.
“We had nine coming back, but we did lose a lot,” said Rinehimer. “And when you lose some seniors, you lose some chemistry. There were still a lot of factors, and we were able to overcome each one.”
Each season there are variables like unforeseen injuries and illnesses that are beyond anyone’s control.
“And sometimes it just doesn’t work,” said Rinehimer. “They are just a great bunch and they took it in perspective. It is hard to get back.”
With each victory throughout the long winter campaign, the Rams became an increasingly confident bunch as well.
Junior guard Sammy Stipa led the Rams with 381 points for an 11.2 scoring average per game. Junior forward Shelby Mueller was next with 359 points for a 10.6 clip. Senior forward Sarah Payonk checked in with 345 for a 10.1 mark.
There was also plenty of offensive help from senior guard Brittany Moore (241, 7.1), senior forward Courtney Hinnant (221, 6.5), senior guard Sammi Haas (194, 5.7) and sophomore forward Maggie Locke (168, 4.9).
Defensively, the Rams came up with an imposing 470 steals and 137 blocked shots. Stipa had 104 steals, Payonk 95, Mueller 67 and Moore 62. Payonk made 52 blocks and Mueller 32.
They helped each other with communication and sharing the ball on offense and team defense at the other end of the court. Payonk dealt 87 assists, Stipa 83 and Haas 71.
In rebounds, Payonk pulled down 266, Mueller 209, Hinnant 168 and Locke 124. Payonk had 118 offensive rebounds and a 7.8 rebounds per game average. Mueller grabbed 98 offensive boards with a 6.2 clip. Hinnant had 62 off the offensive glass and a 4.9 mark and Locke had 51 with a 3.7 mark.
“I am really excited to go out with four championships this year,” said Payonk. “It wasn’t just the seniors. It was everyone across the board. We all learned and we all came together. That was our goal to accomplish all those things so it feels nice.”
At the pivotal free throw line, Mueller finished 100-for-137 (73 percent), Payonk 81-for-111 (also 73 percent) and Stipa 56-for-89 (63 percent) with some big ones at the end of games, including the state semifinal victory over Philadelphia Catholic League entry Cardinal O’Hara, 53-49.
Stipa had the most field goals with 148, Mueller 128 and Payonk 124. Stipa had the most field goal attempts with 375, followed by Payonk at 320, Moore at 279, Mueller at 264 and Hinnant at 215 in a diversified outlook.
Mueller had the top field goal percentage at .485 with Haas second at .439 and Hinnant third at .433.
Moore had the most treys with 44, and Stipa and Haas were also big threats from downtown with 29 and 25, respectively.