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Jenkintown uses precision passing to nip Christian Academy

NETHER PROVIDENCE >> The ‘Drake’ sounds more like a hotel than the inbounds play Jenkintown used Tuesday night to set up the game-winner against The Christian Academy.

With 7.1 seconds left and Jenkintown in a single stack, the ball eventually made its way to Mia Kolb, who laid it in with 3.9 seconds left for a 35-33 District 1/12 A semifinal victory over the Christian Academy.

It was one of those plays the Crusaders and Lindsay Haseltine, who scored a game-high 16 points, will agonize over again and again.

“We’ll be looking back on it and wishing we could change things,” Haseltine said. “But that’s how it happened. We’ll think of it for awhile, learn from it and move on to the next game.”

The Crusaders (20-6) can earn their first spot in the PIAA state playoffs with a win over top seed Sankofa Freedom Academy in the third-place game, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at Abraham Lincoln High.

The third-seeded Drakes led most of the game, going ahead for good on a 3-pointer by Ashley Kremp that made it 11-10 with 1 minute, 55 seconds left in a low-scoring first half.

Mia Kolb (12 points) nailed a three-pointer and Caroline Arena added a jumper in a 7-0 burst giving the Drakes an 11-point advantage, the biggest of the game, three minutes into the third quarter.

Haseltine answered with a basket and Crusaders coach Jason Wilt called time with 4:02 left. When play resumed, TCA put on an effective fullcourt press that forced enough turnovers and tired shots to get the Crusaders back in the game.

“That second half I had to flip it on and it worked great,” Wilts said. “I wished I would have done it sooner. But at the end we were spent and that’s kind of the reason we didn’t press all game. They’re really good ball handlers and really tough guards. We battled back. It obviously wasn’t enough at the end. We had a chance. We lost by 25 points last year to Jenkintown in the districts.”

It’s possible the teams could meet once again this season. Then again, chances are the Crusaders won’t get another shot at the Drakes (21-6) until next season.

“All year we were focused on this game,” Haseltine said. “We really wanted to play Jenkintown again because we played them last year in this same spot. Our coach pushed us real hard and this is where we wanted to be, this game. Everyone put a lot of effort into it.”

For Jenkintown, it was a perfect ending.

Coach Jim Romano, who’s closing in on 600 career victories, called the decision “one of the most satisfying.”

“We call that play The Drake,” Romano said. “The last time we did that play was at Wildwood and we couldn’t get the pass off. It was the same situation but this time it worked for us. If I had to pick which time we wanted it to work, definitely this time.”

“We practiced that play multiple times,” Jennifer Kremp said. “Every practice at the end we put less than 10 seconds on the clock and practice that until we perfect it. And it worked really well tonight. Once I saw the opening to Mia I had to give it to her. We knew TCA was a great team. This is a great win.”

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