|Staff photo by Brad Spahr/Noelle Powell dives on the floor during Wednesday's District 1 Class AAAA second-round victory over Methacton.|
By BRAD SPAHR
LOWER PROVIDENCE - For the West Chester Rustin High girls basketball team, this one hurt so good.
The 12th-seeded Golden Knights, bloodied and bruised after their second-round District 1 Class AAAA playoff game at No. 5 Methacton resembled more of a cross between the Daytona 500 and a pro football game, were nonetheless nothing but smiles afterwards.
And for very good reason.
Rustin proved to be tougher in what was an extremely physical and intense battle from start to finish on Wednesday night, as they upset the Warriors on their home court by a score of 54-49 to make school history by clinching their first state playoff berth.
The red-hot Golden Knights (21-5 overall), who have now won 18 straight games, also now advance to the district quarterfinals, where they’ll host No. 20 Pennsbury at a date and time to be determined.
Junior center Adashia Franklyn turned in a monster performance for Rustin, finishing with a game-high in both points (16) and rebounds (14). But it was as balanced an effort as you’ll get, as the sophomore trio of Noelle Powell, Casey Warley and Anna Steinmetz all scored 10 points apiece. Another sophomore, Katie O’Hare, added eight points.
Rustin led by as many as six points in the fourth quarter, 43-37, with 4:50 remaining in what was a fantastic game throughout.
Methacton (21-6), however, roared all the way back to seize its first lead since early in the second half, 47-46, with 2:13 left after Kara Steinke sunk a pair of free throws following a questionable foul call on Powell near mid court.
Just moments later, though, Rustin went back in front for good when Steinmetz scored on a runner in the lane with 1:51 to go to make it 48-47. Following a turnover by Methacton, Rustin got the dagger from Warley, as she sunk a 3-pointer with 1:23 left to up the lead to 51-47.
"Coaching strategy we didn’t want her to shoot the ball there, we wanted to burn clock," said West Chester Rustin first-year coach Leah Kim. "It was one of those shots were you go...no, no, no, no....yes.
"These girls have ice water in their veins and they are confident. I’m so happy for them. They wanted this so bad and for them to get it and make states is huge. They fought their hearts out and showed a ton of poise."
Methacton got a team-high 14 points from senior Sarah Sherman, including two key 3-pointers in the fourth to help her team crawl back. The Warriors answered Warley’s three with 1:06 left on the clock to cut the score to two, 51-49, on a put back inside by Steinke.
After a time out, Rustin got another gigantic basket when O’Hare swished a jumper with 32 seconds left to make it 53-49, and that was it as Methacton failed to convert on its next trip down the court.
"It’s an awesome feeling getting this win. This was one of the most physical games we’ve played in and it was back and forth the whole time," said O’Hare, who was sporting a pretty severely bruised nose afterwards. "We fought as hard as we could all game, and it feels really good to get a win like this."
Franklyn was sensational for Rustin. She scored 13 points in the second half, eight of which came in a critical third quarter. Rustin, who trailed by two points at the break, opened the third period on an 11-2 run and eventually led 35-30 after three. Warley was also big in the frame, scoring five points.
Powell, to go along with her 10 points, did a terrific job handling the ball and helping the Golden Knights navigate Methacton’s full-court pressure. She was bumped and banged all game by double teams while attempting to bring the ball up court.
"It was very physical out there tonight," said Kim. "We expected it. We weren’t getting any calls, which we also expected. We were getting banged around and it didn’t faze my kids."
Rustin, the lower seed, knew a lot of people probably viewed them as underdogs on this night.
"It didn’t matter. We knew we were going to win," said Steinmetz, who was all over the court on both ends for the Golden Knights. "We definitely played as a team, and we wanted to make school history. It’s a great feeling."
W.C. Rustin 54, Methacton 49
W.C. RUSTIN: Warley 4 0-0 10, Steinmetz 5 0-0 10, Franklyn 7 2-4 16, Powell 4 1-2 10, O’Hare 4 0-0 8, Walls 0 0-1 0. Totals: 24 3-7 54.
METHACTON: Steinke 2 2-2 6, Sherman 5 1-2 14, Carroll 2 5-6 9, Watson 4 2-2 10, Glatthorn 2 0-0 6, Szkaradnik 1 0-0 2, Ellis 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 10-12 49.
W.C. Rustin 13 7 15 19 -- 54
Methacton 9 13 8 19 -- 493-point goals: Warley 2, Powell, Sherman 3, Glatthorn 2.