The Boyertown High girls' basketball team returned to the District 1 playoffs for the second time, in as many years, and third time in 11 years. On Friday, February 8, the Lady Bears, the 23rd seed of the tournament, were looking to win their first playoffs game in 11 years when they took on Sun Valley. The Lady Bears held off a late Sun Valley run and pulled out the 47-42 victory.The game started off slow with neither team being able to hit a basket in the first couple of minutes. The Vangards hit a few buckets to take the early lead, but the Lady Bears scrapped their way back into the game and were only down two points at the end of the first quarter 10-8.

Boyertown Coach Mike Ludwig didn't think that it was nerves at the beginning of the first quarter when his team couldn't get a basket. He felt that it was more of the layoff. Boyertown had not played a game in 12 days.

"It took us awhile to get up to game speed, and we gave up some easy points in transition. They are a good transition team," said Ludwig. "Once we settled in and got back into playing hard-nose basketball, the girls played solid defense."

Senior Kate Murphy felt that the first quarter struggles was a case of the nerves.

"We knew that we could rebound and come back," said Murphy. "We had to shake off our nerves and shake off our jitters."

Ludwig thought that the team was loose and ready to play, but they weren't able to simulate game speed, so it took two to three minutes to get back up to speed.

"The team was very calm and very confident coming into the game," said Ludwig. "That's great for the team."

The big three-point baskets by Alex Brown were the turning point in the first half. Alex missed a few shots early, but she kept on shooting. Sun Valley went from playing a zone defense to playing a man-toman defense to stop the Bears' momentum.

"I knew that I was suppose to come into the game and hit big shots," said Brown. "It was our first district win and that was exciting. We're looking forward to our second district playoff game."

Coach Ludwig has seen Alex step up and hit big shots all season. He has her coming off the bench, not because she isn't a starter, but because she makes the team better.

"She's come through all year in big time situations and in big games," said Ludwig.

Alex has help from her team-mates who are making the passes and playing defense to help the team

Brown has hit her three-point shots all year. When Brown shoots the three-point shot, it will usually go in.

The Lady Bears continued to build on the momentum of the first quarter as Alex Brown hit a couple of three-point shots to put her team ahead and never look back. The team continued to play solid defense and limited the Lady Vangards to just four points in the second quarter. Boyertown had a three-point lead 17-14 at the intermission.

Coach Ludwig has seen the team play well all year and they have confidence. He expected them to come into the game and win against Sun Valley. If a team comes in expecting to win, and the team plays well, the team will win their share of games.

"That's always nice (having the lead at half-time), but we knew that we could win the game, and that was never an issue with us," said Murphy. "We came in figuring that we are going to win. It may sound a little cocky, but we have a lot of confidence right now. We know that we can play with anyone and when you have a lead, that helps even more."

The third quarter began with Boyertown continuing to pressure Sun Valley into making mistakes. Brown continued to hit big shots to increase the Boyertown lead. Murphy hit a couple of shots and the Lady Bears outscored the Sun Valley 16-9 in the quarter and had a 10 point lead going into the final quarter (33-23).

"That's been our trademark for the past month," said Ludwig. "It goes back to the Spring-Ford game and the Perk Valley game. That's where we learned to play as a team. We had some big wins in the regular season along with tonight. We really shut down a solid offensive team."

The team continued to hit big shot after shot, and at one point of the quarter, had a lead of 12 points. Sun Valley was able to get back into the game by forcing some turnovers, while Boyertown shot 5-for-14 from the foul line. They cut the lead down to six. The Lady Bears hit some big shots and held on for the win.

The win was huge for the program since the Lady Bears haven't been to the second round of the playoffs in quite a long time. The coaches told the team what can they do to become the best team they can be, and they bought into the idea of being a team.

"We don't have stars, we have a team," said Ludwig. "We have good players, but they play together and that's how we are successful."

THE BEAR FACTS: Alex Brown led the Lady Bears with 16 points and Kate Murphy had 14. They will now face Abington on Wednesday, February 13 at 7 p.m. Due to our press deadline, we couldn't report the score on the game.

Phil Haddad is a free lance writer for the Times and all comments can be sent to writer-sprts@dejazzd.com

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