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Spano Leads Upper Perk Girls Basketball to First PAC-10 Victory
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent
2015-01-28

Lady Indian Aubrey Gibbs flies toward the basket after breaking away with the ball in Tuesday night's game against Phoenixville.

                Jess Spano has spent most of the season imploring her Upper Perkiomen girls basketball teammates to remain optimistic.  However, Spano said she didn't always buy into her own words.  "There have been times this season when I had to force myself to believe what I was saying," the senior said.

                Spano and the Indians (1-9 PAC-10, 3-14 overall) needed no additional convincing Tuesday that their season has turned the corner following their first Pioneer Athletic Conference victory of the season.

                A 5-foot-8 forward, Spano finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead them to a 44-29 victory over visiting Phoenixville.  "Jess was fantastic," Indians head coach Pete Sovia said.

                Holly Graber scored 11 points for Upper Perkiomen, which won for the second time in three games.

                "This team is getting better," said Sovia, whose two-post game outbursts were audible outside their locker room. "The hard work is starting to pay off."

                Senior Regina Moser's ball handling down the stretch helped the Indians hold off a late flurry by Phoenixville, which pulled within 38-36 in the final 90 seconds.

                Moser, filling in for classmate Aubrey Gibbs, who fouled out with 5 minutes, 26 seconds remaining, provided a pivotal calming impact, according to Sovia.

                "Losing Aubrey was a concern," the coach said. "But Regina did a great job. She handled the ball like an all-conference player."                        According to Spano, the coach instructed Moser to act like she was helping the team win the PAC-10 title.  "Gina really knows how to handle the ball," Spano said.

                According to Sovia, Tuesday's win over the playoff contending Phantoms - along with a 53-42 road victory over Brandywine five days earlier - has validated his team's hard work.

                "This win feels so good," Spano said. "It's been a tough season. We've had so many tough losses."

                Against Phoenixville, the Indians never trailed in the second half. They led 27-15 on Graber's 3-pointer late in the third quarter, and 37-30 late in the fourth quarter on a layup by Spano.

                However, Nomi Washington – who finished with a game-high 24 points – sparked the Phantoms' late rally. She scored eight points in the final five minutes, including the layup that pulled them within two.

                Spano converted two free throws with 21.1 seconds left to clinch the victory for Upper Perkiomen.

                The team responded from a 42-38 road loss to Pottstown, which snapped a 25-game PAC-10 losing streak, on Jan. 23.

                Spano finished with 19 points for the Indians, who rallied from 10-point deficits, and forced a 36-36 tie with four minutes remaining. Jill Kachmar, a freshman, added eight points.

                Sovia said 1-for-10 foul shooting in the fourth quarter played a major role in the defeat.

                On Jan. 22, Graber scored 30 points on seven 3-pointers to lead the team to a non-league victory over the Bulldogs.                 

                Graber, who finished the game with seven 3-pointers, posted 11 points in the third quarter, two more than Brandywine collectively.

                Aubrey Gibbs contributed eight points in the victory while Jess Spano added seven more in the win.


 

 

 

 

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