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Keeney Grateful for Playoff Opportunity
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-02-23

            Early foul trouble to one of Upper Perkiomen's top players helped lead to a quick exit from the District One Class 5A playoffs last week. However, Hannah Keeney expressed gratitude for the opportunity to experience the postseason.

            "No matter the outcome, it has been so rewarding to get to this point," she said. "Getting this far has been astonishing. It's mind blowing."

Upper Perkiomen's Erin States reaches for a loose 

ball during the District One 5A playoff game.

            The Indians (15-9) ended their winningest season since 1992 with a 54-24 road loss to Villa Maria Academy in the opening round of the tournament on Friday, Feb. 18. Head coach Matthew Bowe described the experience as the planting of seeds crucial for the growth of a successful program.

            "The girls now realize what it takes to go further next year," he said. "We can't go backwards."

            According to Bowe, accomplishing the goal of qualifying for the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs and reaching the district playoffs for the first time since 2013 with three seniors who played for him during his first season leading the Tribe – Mackenzie Schaeffer, Bailey Cahill and Keeney – meant everything.

            As a sophomore, Keeney said he considered a district playoff appearance an impossibility. In her two previous seasons, under the current coach, the team won only two games.  "Everything comes full circle," Bowe said.

            Keeney said she felt positive vibes when the players gathered for preseason workouts. She said they communicated regularly off the court.

            That camaraderie quickly impacted their performance on the counts. According to the coach, the district playoff appearance seemed attainable following a 3-1 start.

            In their return to districts, the Indians struggled to contend with Villa Maria Academy's passing skills and its ability to run the floor. According to the coach, the speed of the game was faster than what they had experienced all season.

            "They moved the ball so well," Bowe said of the Hurricanes, who forced 18 turnovers and scored 14 fast-break points. "They passed without dribbling."

            Mariah McHugh scored a game-high 22 points to lead a balanced Villa Maria Academy attack. Ten other players scored for the No. 7 seed from the Catholic Academies League.

            The Hurricanes (11-12) – who advanced to the district semifinals with a 35-33 win over No. 2 seed Marple Newtown on Tuesday night – took control after Erin States, Upper Perkiomen's sophomore post player, was whistled for her third foul less than two minutes into the second quarter. They reeled off nine consecutive points to extend an 18-10 advantage.

            With States on the bench for the rest of the quarter, Villa Maria pressured Grace Galbavy, Upper Perkiomen's main ball handler who finished with a team-high 18 points. It forced the Indians into 10 turnovers and allowed them just three points in the second quarter. States and Keeney each scored three points.

            Meanwhile, the Hurricanes delivered 15 points in the second. Clare Cronley, a 5-foot-11 junior, scored five of her six points in the quarter to take a 33-13 halftime advantage.

            Bowe said he didn't think the second quarter flurry put the game out of reach. Villa Maria did that late in the third quarter with nine consecutive points to go ahead 50-21. McHugh, a junior forward, posted 10 points in the quarter.

            The team – which loses four seniors to graduation, including Gabriella Neal – is looking to develop a third player to complement Galbavy, a 6-foot-1 freshman, and States, a sophomore. Bowe said he expects someone to emerge this summer.


 

 

 

 

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