Spratt, CB West deny Spring-Ford shot at district championship (with boxscore)


FRANCONIA - With Central Bucks West clinging to a one-point lead and 12 seconds remaining in regulation in Wednesday’s District One 6A semifinal, Emily Spratt stepped to the foul line for arguably the biggest one-and-one of her young career. The sophomore guard calmly sank a pair, and the Bucks led 48-45.   

“I was very nervous, but my main thought was – do you know what you’re doing this for? You’re doing it for your best friends. I really just wanted to do it for them,” Spratt said.

Seconds later, Spratt sealed the Rams’ fate on the defensive end, blocking a 3-point attempt by junior Lucy Olsen. Jess Broskey came up with the rebound, connected on 1-of-2 at the foul line with 1.8 seconds remaining, and the come-from-behind win was in the books.

The Bucks are going to Saturday’s district title game at Temple.

“I’m just so happy for the seniors, honestly,” Spratt said. “To be able to experience this. We’re playing for everybody, but I really feel like we went out there and we were like – we have to do this for the seniors because they deserve this.”

The 15-point effort of senior point guard Olivia Irons led the Bucks.

“It’s amazing,” Irons said. “Our team – we’re best friends, and it shows on the court. We’re always picking each other up. Everyone does their job, and as a senior, this season has been like a dream come true for me. It can’t get better than this.”

The Bucks found themselves staring at a 29-22 deficit after Alyssa Yuan scored with three minutes remaining in the third period, prompting coach Zach Sibel to call a quick timeout.

“We’ve faced adversity this year,” Sibel said. “I told them during the timeout – ‘We’ve been here before. This isn’t anything we’re not used to. We’ve played really good teams, and we’re a really good team ourselves. We can handle anything that’s thrown at us.’”

“Sibel and coach Jen (Fabian) did a great job of helping us keep our composure,” Spratt said. “Having Sibel on the sideline saying, ‘It’s okay, we’re going to get back into it. We’re going to be fine.’ For a moment, of course, you’re a little nervous because we were down seven, but you can’t get frantic for a long period of time in a game like that.”

Paige Gilbert scored on a drive out of the timeout, and it was a 29-26 game after Irons connected on a pair at the foul line. Gabs Alessandroni buried a three, and the Rams led by six, but Irons banked home a three from the top of the circle to pull the Bucks within three heading into the final quarter, 32-29.

“I actually yelled ‘off,’ hoping someone would rebound it, and then it went in,” Irons said. “I was like, ‘All right, whatever works.’ I can’t complain.”

“Olivia Irons is incredible,” coach Zach Sibel said. “For her to step up when her time was called was awesome. We’re down seven, and she hits that three (to end the third quarter). We get things going in our direction. We’re an energy team, they all feed off that.”

Spratt scored on a drive to open the fourth quarter, and after Irons came up with a steal on the defensive end, Gilbert took it to the hole for a basket that gave the Bucks a 33-32 lead. The Rams regained the lead, but a three by junior Anna Blue off the bench gave the Bucks a 38-36 advantage. Olsen knotted the score on a foul line jumper, but Spratt answered with a pair at the foul line.

Irons broke a 40-40 tie when she connected on a three from NBA range. The Bucks’ led by just one with a minute remaining when Burke buried both ends of a one-and-one to give them a three-point edge. Yuan scored on a putback that pulled the Rams to within one, and then both teams had empty possessions, setting the stage for Spratt to close it out for the Bucks.

“She’s a sophomore, but she certainly doesn’t play like it,” Sibel said of Spratt. “She plays so much bigger. She covers the other team’s best player every game. She steps in and plays that role unbelievably well.”

Spratt also pulled down six rebounds and had a pair of blocked shots.

“I’m so thankful that this got to be my sophomore year,” Spratt said. “Last year was kind of rough going into it. I was kind of nervous going into this year, but I’m so thankful for my teammates and how good they are to me

“The upperclassmen are such good leaders, so it really helps us see what we’re supposed to do when we’re older.”

Gilbert, who battled foul woes in the second half, finished with eight points and five rebounds. Broskey led the Bucks under the boards with eight rebounds. Burke added six boards, a block and an important steal in the fourth quarter.

Olsen’s 14 points led the Rams. Skylar Sullivan added 10.

“They’re a tough team to prepare for,” Sibel said. “We went after Olsen, and she still got points. That’s a testament to her as a player.

“Other girls definitely stepped up around her. No easy game, and a team that’s going to do some damage in states, for sure.”

Central Bucks West (22-4, 12-0 SOL) will face #4 Pennsbury in Saturday’s District One 6A title game at Temple University at 5 p.m.

Spring-Ford (45) – Gabs Alessandroni 3 0-0 7; Abbey Boyer 0 0-2 0; Mac Maloney 1 0-0 2; Lucy Olsen 6 2-2 14; Skylar Sullivan 4 0-0 10; Emily Tiffan 2 0-0 4; Alyssa Yuan 3 2-6 8; Totals 19 4-10 45.
Central Bucks West (49) – Anna Blue 1 0-0 3; Jess Broskey 1 1-2 3; Maddie Burke 1 2-3 4; Lily Evans 1 0-0 2; Paige Gilbert 4 0-1 8; Olivia Irons 4 4-6 15; Maddy McGarry 0 2-2 2; Emily Spratt 2 8-10 12; Totals 14 17-24 49.
Spring-Ford                11    7  14  13 - 45
Central Bucks West    9   11    9  20 - 49
3-point goals: SF – Skylar Sullivan 2, Gabs Alessandroni, CBW – Olivia Irons 3, Anna Blue..