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Beth Hudson: Twin Valley, Wilson finding playoff form

It felt like a playoff game Thursday night at Twin Valley.

Some of that was due to a large, energetic crowd that included girls basketball players from the school district’s youth program. Part of it was the action on the court.

That combination – two of the top teams in the Berks Girls Basketball League competing at a high level, plus enthusiastic fans – elevated the atmosphere.

It was a reminder that the postseason is less than two weeks away.

Twin Valley (16-1) led by as many as 15 points in the first half. Wilson (10-6) came all the way back to get within two by the end of the third quarter.

Twin Valley’s final surge, a 9-2 stretch over the last 3:40, gave the Raiders a 53-44 win.

“We challenged them mentally this game,” Twin Valley coach Mark Morrow said. “I think physically they’re fine, but we challenged them mentally to get that half-court defense going and they did it.

“We got into a little bit of up and down with (Wilson), which we didn’t want to do. They closed the gap.”

The Bulldogs trailed 44-42 before Ava Morrow’s three-point play kicked off Twin Valley’s late run. Those tense moments aren’t particularly enjoyable, but they are useful, the coach said.

“As a coach when you’re going through it, you don’t like it,” Morrow said. “Afterward, it’s good to do it. It gives them an experience to draw on for the next time we’re in that situation, which is probably going to be (tonight).

“You want them to experience that. You want them to know they can be successful in that.”

Twin Valley (8-0, 16-1) can clinch the Berks I title outright with one more division win.

Second-place Wilson (5-2, 10-6) has three division games remaining. Though the Bulldogs fell short at Twin Valley, Wilson coach Doug Myer has liked much of what he’s seen lately.

“Our main focus is trying to get better every game,” Myer said. “We’ve had some really good defensive efforts against some pretty explosive teams. As coaches right now, we’re encouraged.”

The Raiders will play five games in the next six days. They’ll tip off their hectic week tonight at home vs. Berks III leader Wyomissing (16-2). The teams last met Jan. 30, 2017, when Wyomissing won 57-42.

The Spartans (61.2 points per game) and Raiders (53.5) rank 1-2 in the league in scoring. Twin Valley has held opponents to a league-best 31.6 points per game, while Wyomissing has allowed 37.6.

As of Sunday, Twin Valley was third in the District 3 Class 5A power rankings. Wyomissing ranked third in Class 4A.

It’s still the regular season, but tonight’s matchup should feel a lot like a playoff game.

Traveling Saints: Berks Catholic has won five of its last six, including a 40-33 triumph Saturday at Pope John Paul II in Royersford.

The Saints led by 16 at halftime, but the Golden Panthers cut the deficit to six in the second half.

Berks Catholic coach Bob Birmingham said it was a good chance for his younger athletes to play under pressure against a strong Class 5A program.

“Abby (Gaffney), Molly (Duncan) and Dejah (Terrell) have been in big games before,” Birmingham said of his seniors. “We know what we’re going to get from them.

“Some of our younger kids, when we play in these big games, they need to step up and be ready for that type of energy a team brings.”

It was the first of five consecutive road contests to wrap up the regular season.

The Saints (6-0, 13-3), who lead second-place Fleetwood (6-1, 10-6) in Berks II, will travel to Hamburg, Fleetwood, Conrad Weiser and Schuylkill Valley in the next eight days.

Milestone watch: Wyomissing’s Leah McAvoy has a chance to become the second current Spartan to reach 1,000 points, joining fellow senior Myra Owens.

McAvoy is averaging 17.6 points, second only to Twin Valley’s Peyton McDaniel in the Berks League, and has 963 for her career.

Wilson senior guard Zakiyah Winfield is closing in on the milestone as well. After scoring 13 points Saturday at West Chester Rustin, Winfield has 937 total.

Contact Beth Hudson: 610-371-5064 or bhudson@readingeagle.com

Article source: http://www.readingeagle.com/sports/article/beth-hudson-twin-valley-wilson-finding-playoff-form

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