CHELTENHAM >> Mia Kolb’s arms don’t actually extend and get longer, it just seems that way when she’s defending someone.
The Jenkintown junior was a defensive menace Saturday, coming up with seven steals and a pair of blocks, as the Drakes opened the PIAA A girls basketball tournament against Christian School of York. Kolb and her teammates have one goal for this postseason and it’s simply to make it last as long as possible.
They got off to a good start Saturday, topping the Crusaders 66-32 at Cheltenham High School.
“We’re all really excited and we have to make the most of our season,” Kolb said. “This is our last time together for the six of us, we want to make it last as long as we can and wanted to take this win.”
Kolb, a junior, along with her twin sister Mia, senior twins Ashley and Jen Kremp, senior Amelia Mulvaney and junior Caroline Arena have formed the core of the team the last three years. Jenkintown has been wildly successful in their run, winning the last three District 1-A titles and added a BAL tournament title to their regular season league championship this winter.
They also made the state final four last season and feel like this group is even deeper and capable of going at least that far again. Natalie Kolb has rounded back into form after being slowed by injury last year, Jen Kremp scored her 1,000th point earlier this season and both Kremps broke the 100 career 3-pointer mark.
“We couldn’t wait to play,” Jenkintown coach Jim Romano said. “We were ready to play. There’s a couple things we have to definitely clear up but otherwise I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Sure, the Drakes left some points on the floor in the first half but they were playing such strong defense they were able to get away with it. Kolb felt it was a little bit of rust on some of the missed shots around the rim but added everything starts on defense and that end of the floor was up to standard.
Mia Kolb leads the press when Jenkintown goes full-court defensively, her quickness and experience adding to her wingspan and quick hands.
“Defensively she sets the tone, offensively she runs everything for us,” Romano said. “Her outside shot is coming along. I look at the book and think ‘holy smokes, she scored 15.’ She just creeps up on you a little bit as far as the scoring goes.”
Kolb scored 14 on Saturday, hitting a three and made her first five shots from the floor for 12 points in the first half. She had five steals prior to halftime, also ripped down eight rebounds and dished one assist.
Jen Kremp added 13 and two steals with Ashley Kremp chipping in four points, three steals and a block. Natalie Kolb had seven points and four assists as the Drakes continued to play selfless offense. They know it takes the whole team to win and they’ve played enough games together to find the right person.
“We huddle before every game and get control over our energy,” Kolb said. “We’re all really close, so it pumps us up and we motivate each other.”
The game was only tied once after the opening tip when CSY’s Kendis Butler hit a trey for a 3-3 deadlock. Jenkintown scored the next 17 points of the first quarter and had a 25-0 run overall into the second quarter before Butler hit another three to end it.
Butler, a senior guard for the Crusaders committed to PSU Harrisburg, was terrific all game despite being heavily guarded by Kolb for most of the first three quarters. The 5-foot-5 Butler ended up with 25 points, hit five shots from beyond the arc and managed to hold her own facing the Drakes’ pressure.
It was a gutsy effort and one that earned a tip of the cap from Jenkintown’s veteran coach.
“The shots she made, we were right in her face, it’s not like we gave her two or three feet,” Romano said. “We might have given her a step and was still knocking them down. We knew she was one to watch, she’s scored more than 1,300 points in her career.”
Mulvaney added eight points for Jenkintown, with six coming in the first quarter. The Drakes are also deep on the bench, with eight players getting first quarter minutes and even reserves Cady Westkaemper, Courtney Todaro and Tanner Lafferty playing well in late fourth quarter minutes.
Jenkintown will take on Linden Hall, a 56-34 winner over Southern Fulton, in Wednesday’s second round.
“It makes us play a lot harder, because we don’t want it to end,” Kolb said. “We just go into each game wanting it and we’ve been getting it done.”
JENKINTOWN 66, CHRISTIAN SCHOOL OF YORK 32
JENKINTOWN 20 17 18 11 – 66
CHRISTIAN SCHOOL OF YORK 3 11 10 8 – 32
Jenkintown: Mia Kolb 6 1-3 14, Jen Kremp 5 3-6 13, Ashley Kremp 2 0-0 4, Natalie Kolb 3 0-0 7, Amelia Mulvaney 3 2-3 8, Caroline Arena 2 1-2 6, Carly Mulvaney 1 3-4 5, Molly Walsh 2 1-2 5, Courtney Todaro 1 0-0 2, Cady Westkaemper 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Tanner Lafferty. Totals: 26 11-18 66.
Christian School of York: Kendis Butler 8 4-4 25, Hannah Martin 1 0-0 3, Mallory Tome 1 0-0 2, Christine Cornman 1 0-0 2. Totals: 11 4-4 32.
3-pointers: J – M Kolb, Arena, N Kolb; CSY – Butler 5, Martin.