ROYERSFORD >> It may be March, but the Jenkintown Drakes have shown they can do just fine without the madness.
The Drakes took the mystery out of Tuesday’s second-round state playoff game early, advancing to the PIAA Class A quarterfinals with Tuesday night’s second-round victory over Linden Hall by a score of 47-21.
The victory extended Jenkintown’s winning streak to 14 games, dating back to their lone loss against Souderton, the District 1-6A champion, on January 24. Since that game, the Drakes (28-1) have been a model of consistency, reeling off win after win—all but one of them coming by a double-digit margin.
“The way we play, it’s all about continuing to work,” said head coach Jim Romano. “(The margins of victory) are nice, but that’s not our focus. We just want to score one more point than our opponents.”
The first half immediately established the contest as a contrast of styles, with Jenkintown’s methodical approach colliding with Linden Hall’s preference to run in transition. Neither was particularly effective in the early going, with both defenses controlling the pace. However, the offense heated up late for Jenkintown, with senior Amelia Mulvaney connecting for three quick baskets to cap off the quarter, giving Jenkintown a 12-5 edge.
Time of possession isn’t an official statistic in basketball, but the Drakes’ second-quarter performance made a strong case in favor of increasing the emphasis. Simply put, Jenkintown didn’t allow the Lions to handle the ball for more than a few seconds without subjecting them to pressure.
Forcing several Linden Hall turnovers in the backcourt, Jenkintown created easy baskets on the other end. When the Lions did get set into their offense, Jenkintown pressured their guards and countered Linden Hall’s size advantage by fronting 6-foot-2 Hetta Saatman and 6-4 Mercy Ademusayo.
By halftime, the Drakes led 24-7, having limited the Lions to only two field goals—and perhaps more impressively, only 15 total attempts—while forcing 12 turnovers.
“Consistency is the number one factor. To be honest, we preach defense even more than offense,” said Romano. “But preaching it isn’t enough—you’ve got to believe in it and work on it every day, which these girls have been doing for the last three years.”
After the break, Linden Hall realized that they wouldn’t be able to run against the Drakes. The half-court approach wasn’t much more fruitful, however, with Jenkintown forcing seven more turnovers in the third quarter and extending their lead to as many as 27 points.
“We want every possession to count,” said Jen Kremp, who led Jenkintown with 21 points. “It’s in our favor not to rush, to wait for the best possible shot.”
Linden Hall’s offense got going in the fourth quarter behind a pair of three pointers from junior Tahri Phillips, but the Drakes were able to again control possession and run out the clock in moving forward into Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
Kremp led victorious Jenkintown with 21 points, including four three pointers, while Amelia Mulvaney contributed eight points and seven rebounds. The Drakes limited Linden Hall to 26 percent shooting (with only two made field goals in the first three quarters) while battling the much taller Lions to a draw on the boards (24 a side.)
“That’s just sheer determination,” said Romano. “Everybody knows how to box out, so it comes down to desire, wanting to get it done.”
“We knew about their height,” said Mulvaney, “so we focused on getting to loose balls and limiting their chances.”
Linden Hall, the second seed out of District 3, saw their season come to an end at a record of 19-6. Phillips led the Lions with eight points on the evening.
Next up for the Drakes will be Lourdes Regional of District 4, a team with whom the Drakes have split a pair of games over the past couple seasons. The game will take place on Saturday at a location to be determined.
Jenkintown, the three-time defending District 1 Champions, have been to this point before, but seniors like Kremp and Mulvaney want the ride to last as long as possible this time.
“Last year, we realized how far we can go,” said Kremp. “It makes us give it all every day at practice because this is our last chance to all play together.”
“We’re playing with our best friends, and (the state title) has been our goal since we were young,” Mulvaney concluded. “We don’t want it to end.”
Jenkintown 47, Linden Hall 21
Linden Hall 5 2 2 12 — 21
Jenkintown 12 12 12 11 — 47
Linden Hall (21): Adaramoye 1 1-2 3, Ademusayo 0 0-0 0, Brabham 0 0-0 0, Celebic 0 2-2 2, Kauffman 0 0-0 0, Mbeledeogu 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Phillips 2 2-2 8, Saatman 3 0-1 6, Thorpe 1 0-0 2, Totals 7 5-7 21.
Jenkintown (47): Arena 2 0-0 4, M. Kolb 2 1-1 5, N. Kolb 1 0-0 2, A. Kremp 1 0-2 3, J. Kremp 7 3-3 21, A. Mulvaney 4 0-0 8, C. Mulvaney 1 1-2 4, Todaro 0 0-0 0, Walsh 0 0-0 0, Totals 18 5-8 47.
Three-point goals: Linden Hall: Phillips 2.
Jenkintown: J. Kremp 4, A. Kremp, C. Mulvaney.
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