Spring-Ford loses in AAAA

Spring-Ford's Sammy Stipa lunges between Cumberland Valley defenders as she drives to the hoop. BRADLEY C. BOWER / For The Inquirer
Spring-Ford's Sammy Stipa lunges between Cumberland Valley defenders as she drives to the hoop. BRADLEY C. BOWER / For The Inquirer
Posted: March 23, 2014

HERSHEY, Pa. - Sammy Stipa had been on the floor for every minute of the PIAA Class AAAA state championship game - 30-plus minutes, to be more specific.

An absolute workhorse for the Spring-Ford girls' basketball team, she was planning on staying in for the rest of the contest, too - even though the Rams were trailing by 18. But then she banged knees with a Cumberland Valley player and went down.

The senior guard has been playing with a torn meniscus in her left knee all season, and despite how much she wanted to stay in the contest, she knew she couldn't.

When Stipa limped off in obvious pain, it signaled the end of an era for the Rams, who fell to Cumberland Valley, 49-30, Friday night at Hershey's Giant Center.

"I really wanted to, with everything in me," Stipa said. "I really wanted to, but I felt like for the best of the team, to get someone in with fresh legs - we have confidence in them, as well."

Stipa's limping off the floor with just 1 minute, 50 seconds remaining was largely symbolic of Spring-Ford's season. As she sat on the bench, she never stopped cheering on her teammates. Like Stipa, the other players have been banged up and knocked down, but they haven't quit.

The Rams (27-7) never quite got into a rhythm on offense Friday, as they were held to their second-lowest point total of the season.

"They came out from the beginning really hard and we tried to come back, but they kept hitting crucial shots," Rams senior Shelby Mueller said.

Cumberland Valley (28-5) started out highly energized, knocking down critical three-pointers that appeared to deflate the Rams. In particular, the dynamic play of Kelly Jekot (16 points) hurt, as Spring-Ford could not find an answer for her defensively.

"You work so hard on offense or defense, and then they hit a three. Oh, now we need to come back even more," Mueller said. "If someone hits a really big three at the right time, it definitely messes with your mental game. It hurts."

But, true to the team's character all season, the Rams battled.

This time, the shots just didn't fall.

"We tried to keep our heads up, we tried to keep pushing it, and tried to keep getting shots up, but theirs just kept falling and ours didn't," Stipa said.

Stipa led the Rams with 11 points, and Mueller added eight.

"It is the end of my high school career and all of us seniors," Stipa said. "It stinks I couldn't be out there longer to help them out."

The Spring-Ford coaching staff, players, and fans wish Stipa had a couple more years in Rams navy blue.

Cumberland Valley 11 12 16 10 - 49

Spring-Ford 4 10 11 5 - 30

CV: Kelly Jekot 16, Taylor Sneidman 12, Madison Torresin 9, Katie Jekot 6, Meghan Rhoades 4, Alyssa Hinish 2.

SF: Sammy Stipa 11, Shelby Mueller 8, Molly Hynes 5, Abby Beyer 4, Maddie Haney 2.


rallysports@phillynews.com

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