ROYERSFORD - There will be no Final Four playoff appearance for the Phoenixville Phantoms boys basketball team.
Perkiomen Valley saw to that with a 74-65 victory in the play-in Thursday night at Spring-Ford High School. The Phantoms and Vikings entered the game tied for fourth place in the Pioneer Athletic Conference with 10-8 records, forcing the need for the special playoff contest.
The Vikings had the lead from the outset. The boys from Graterford broke out to a 22-4 lead after the first quarter and 41-22 by halftime. The Phantoms were forced to play catchup all night while playing their fifth game in seven days.
Phoenixville (11-12) made matters interesting by virtue of a 30-point fourth period. That production came from a lot of younger players off the bench.
"You can't get down like that," said Phoenixville coach Bill Detweiler. "They (Vikings) couldn't miss. Everthing they threw up went in."
Perkiomen Valley (13-10) shot a sizzling 79 percent from the field (19-for-24) in the first half and finished at 66 percent for the game (31-for-47).
The Vikings placed four players in double figures. They were led by Mike Bukata (17 points, two treys), Ryan Casey (14), D.J. Angeloni (14) and Sean Parkins (10).
The Vikes also controlled the backboards 35-28 on the work of Parkins (nine), Angeloni (eight) and Jeff Scholl (eight points, seven caroms).
Junior guard Krestin Johnson paced Phoenixville with 15 points off the bench in the second half on five 3-point field goals. Ryan Thomas finished with 14 points and Alex Johnson netted 13 with one triple.
Chris Ellis pulled eight rebounds to go with eight points, and Paul Lewis snared seven rebounds for the Phantoms, who will now prepare for the District 1 Class AAA playoffs.
"They (Vikings) are flat-out the most improved team in the second half," Detweiler said. "They could have died in the first half, but they kept fighting. Give a lot of credit to Jimmy (coach Genuardi) for a great job and the players did a great job. We came out a little flat. We had a tougher game against Pottsgrove last night than we thought and I had to play starters more. But they just played better than we did tonight.
"But we never quit. We have been down a lot of times, but we keep fighting."
Phoenixville shot 25-for-65 (38 percent) from the field and 9-for-18 at the free throw line. The Phantoms shot just 9-for-32 (28 percent) from the floor in the first 16 minutes.
PV carried a 53-35 lead into the last eight minutes. The Vikes' Andrew Miller literally threw in a desperation prayer while falling down in the final second of the third quarter.
The Vikings led 62-43 with 4:51 left in regulation before Krestin Johnson caught fire from long range with three of his bombs in a two-minute span.
"Krestin Johnson kept firing," Detweiler said. "He can shoot. He proved to everybody that he can play and help us next year. He showed me he can come off the bench."
Junior Mike Odenthal, sophomore Travis Ford-Bey and freshman Tom Beasley also gave the Phantoms some solid minutes off the bench. Alex Johnson and Jeff Ward are the lone seniors while starter Jon Hogga is another freshman in the mix.
Genuardi talked about his club's fast start.
"I stressed playing full-court and running the floor," Genuardi said. "We shot well. Adrenaline was on our side early on. They (Vikings) have been playing for a purpose. We took care of business.
In the second-half meeting between the Phantoms and Vikings, PV also raced out to a huge early lead with a 40-15 halftime cushion.
"Our zone (3-2 matchup) was very effective," Genuardi said. "And Sean Parkins and D.J. Angeloni controlled the boards. They took them down and wouldn't be denied."
Genuardi thinks his team will be ready to go full throttle against top-seeded Spring-Ford in the Final Four semifinals tonight.
"It is more fun playing than practicing," Genuardi said. "They are high school kids and should be able to bounce back. We have made a nice run and hopefully we will prolong it. Spring-Ford is a very good team."