Spring-Ford stops C.R. South in semifinals

Posted: February 29, 2012

Jaida Burgess doesn't usually play 20 minutes a game. She doesn't usually score 19 points, and she doesn't usually grab six rebounds.

But Burgess' play Wednesday night at Norristown, where her Spring-Ford team beat previously undefeated Council Rock South, 56-50, in the District 1 Class AAAA semifinals, exemplifies why many believe this Rams team not only can win a district title, but also make a run at a state championship.

Depth.

Burgess, who averages 9.3 minutes, 1.3 rebounds, and 6.2 points, came off the bench to spark the Rams to their first district-final appearance since 2007. They will meet the winner of the other semifinal, North Penn or Downingtown West, at 7 p.m. Friday at Villanova.

Spring-Ford (26-2) has never won a girls' basketball district championship.

The win extended the Rams' school-record win streak to 22 games; they haven't lost since the sixth game of the season. They handed the Golden Hawks (25-1), ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer and seeded second in the tournament, their first loss.

Spring-Ford coach Jeff Rinehimer went nine players deep Wednesday. Seven clocked at least 10 minutes of court time, and eight scored. The 5-foot-4 Burgess led all reserves with 20 minutes en route to team highs of 19 points (on 7-for-10 shooting) and six rebounds.

"It's defense. You can't be defined by your offense," said Burgess, whose ball pressure helped the Rams hold South to 34.7 percent shooting from the floor. She added: "We came ready, but they really gave us a run for our money."

C.R. South was led by Princeton-bound, 6-3 forward Alex Wheatley, who posted a game-high 26 points (8 for 20 from the field, 10 for 12 from the free throw line) and seven rebounds.

South led, 11-10, after one quarter. Spring-Ford came alive in the second, using a 15-7 run in the final 4 minutes, 3 seconds to take a 27-20 lead into the locker room.

Burgess' free throw at 3:42 of the second quarter gave the Rams a one-point lead that they never relinquished.

Sammy Stipa chipped in 11 points for the Rams. Sarah Payonk added nine, going 2 for 3 from three-point land. For the game, Spring-Ford, the tourney's third seed, shot 50 percent from both the floor and three-point range. Conversely, South managed one three on 11 attempts.

South used a 10-3 run in the third to pull within a point, on Wheatley's coast-to-coast layup. She scored 13 of her 26 in that period.

Burgess scored eight in the final frame to help the Rams ice it.

"Anything that the team needs, she does," Rinehimer said of Burgess, a senior. "She has a good feel for the game. We needed offense, she gave us offense."

Before the semifinals, Spring-Ford had won 10 straight games by at least 13 points. In five previous postseason games, league and district, the Rams held a 28.6 average margin of victory.

"A very deep team, nine players," South coach Monica Stolic said. "They're good. Very fundamental."

Spring-Ford   10 17 15 14 – 56

Council Rock South   11 9 18 12 – 50

SF: Courtney Hinnant 3, Sammy Stipa 11, Brittany Moore 3, Mariah Traywick 3, Sarah Payonk 9, Jaida Burgess 19, Shelby Mueller 6, Sammi Haas 2.

CRS: Alex Wheatley 26, Courtney Brown 5, Alexis Hofstaedter 4, Taylor Dillon 4, Rachel Jacob 3, Taylor Hunt 8.


Contact Evan Burgos at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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