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Sleepy, sloppy Delco Christian escapes Strawberry Mansion’s comeback bid

ROYERSFORD —It wasn’t the prettiest win, but Delco Christian isn’t complaining.

The District 1 champion Knights are moving on to the second round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament after Saturday’s 56-47 triumph over District 12’s Strawberry Mansion.

Do the Knights (17-10) have work to do before Wednesday’s second-round contest with District 2 champion Holy Cross? You bet. Of course, a win’s a win …

The Knights appeared to have this one in the bag early on. With two minutes left in the first period, DC led 15-1 and there wasn’t a worry in the world. Strawberry Mansion (14-7) struggled to a 1-for-20 performance from the field in the first eight minutes. Mansion was chucking up (and bricking) 3-point shots at will.

Junior standout Jackson Piotrowski got off to a splendid start, banking two 3s and making plays on the defensive end. Junior big Obinna Nwobodo was causing havoc in the paint, gobbling up rebounds and getting to the foul line.

All was going well for DC until Mansion ramped up the pressure on defense.

After Joshua Parks hit a trey to give DC an 18-4 advantage, Mansion began to chip away. The Knights’ seemingly insurmountable lead was trimmed to seven points late in the second quarter.

By the fourth quarter, it was a ballgame. Imear Huggins’ tip in got Mansion within three points 30 seconds into the final period.

“I give them a lot of credit because they didn’t give up on one play,” Nwobodo said. “We knew we had to find a way to come back and just be ourselves.”

The Knights only had themselves to blame. Their 17 giveaways explains just how messy they were. Sparkplug point guard Nasir “Dookie” Bakersville led the comeback charge for Mansion with his relentless defensive play. Sharod Greeno tallied 12 of his team-high 15 points after halftime.

“We have a tendency, sort of repeated behavior in games when we go up big and we kind of lay off,” said Piotrowski, who had seven points, two steals and three rebounds in the final quarter. He led all scorers with 22 points. “That’s unacceptable and, obviously, it gets us into bad situations.”

Perhaps it was the two-week layoff between the District 1 final and Saturday’s PIAA opener that caused the Knights to underperform. Jovial rookie head coach Reggie Parks didn’t want to hear it, though. The always-smiling big man heard the question being asked to his players and offered his opinion.

“Don’t give them any excuses!”

Nwobodo and Piotrowski made certain the Knights wouldn’t crumble down the stretch. Nwobodo posted a double-double with 16 points and 16 boards, the muscle inside the paint. He was dominant in the fourth quarter, as his three-point play gave DC a 46-39 lead with less than five minutes to go. Mansion wouldn’t threaten again.

The Knights will look to fix some things before Wednesday for a second-round game against Holy Cross.

“This is our favorite part of the year,” Piotrowski said. “It’s one of the first times in a long time that (Delco Christian basketball) has made it past the first round. We’re definitely going to be focused.”

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