Browne steps up to lead Delco Christian title parade

WHITEMARSH — With leading scorer Devin Hill ineligible and second-leading scorer Wyatt Harkins mired in foul trouble, the spotlight for Delco Christian in Saturday’s District One Class A title game naturally could’ve been cast on Danny Browne to carry the load single-handedly.

The fact that the scoring burden wasn’t solely heaped on Browne’s shoulders is precisely why he and his teammates carted a trophy home with them.

Browne led the way with a game-high 20 points, but the Knights got contributions from up and down a roster burdened by absences and foul trouble to book a 50-41 win over Jenkintown in the Class A championship at Colonial Elementary School.

The title is Delco Christian’s first since 2006 and second all-time. Both teams had already clinched berths in the PIAA Tournament.

An entertaining, but foul-ridden first half made for grim reading for Delco Christian. Harkins had three fouls after one quarter and played barely more than 12 minutes before fouling out with six points and a mere two field goal attempts. Big man Grant Fischer was primarily a spectator with two first-quarter fouls.

Add to the equation that Hill didn’t make the trip, nor did senior depth forward Kaleal Tucker, whose minutes would’ve been valuable in Saturday’s whistle-happy atmosphere, and the game could’ve gotten away from DC (14-13) quickly.

Enter Browne, who had nine points in the first half, leading the Knights into the break up, 25-21.

“I just knew that I needed to step up,’ he said. “I needed to do something big this game in order to raise a banner for our school. Devin’s a big factor in our team and so is Wyatt. Without those two, I just knew that I had to step up and do some big things during this game.’

Browne went cold eventually, and that’s when others stepped up. Tracy Tann, an strictly pass-first point guard, had a pair of second-chance buckets in the second quarter. Jalen Johns, who had scored all of 19 points this season, provided seven, including four in the second quarter. Even Harkins contributed with three assists, including a feed to Browne for the go-ahead bucket and a back-door look to Fischer rolling to the glass to make it a two-possession game at 44-40.

“It says a lot about the character of these kids and their ability to come together and step up when they need to,’ coach Don Davis said. “… Everyone stepped up. And that’s what we have. We have guys stepping into the gaps.’

All that bought time for Browne and Fischer to get back in the game. Any time he was in, the Knights tried to establish Fischer in the post, and the center scored all nine of his points after halftime, including 3-for-4 from the line in the fourth.

“It was definitely challenging for me to establish myself because I came out and got two fouls early,’ Fischer said. “I came back in, and my teammates helped me a lot. … My teammates put a lot of confidence in me and kept on looking for me.’

Browne, meanwhile, endured a 1-for-8 stretch from the second to fourth quarters, but rebounded to provide eight fourth-quarter points, including 4-for-4 at the charity stripe.

With their firepower limited, Delco Christian also saw the need to turn it into a defensive game. That especially manifested itself after halftime, with Nazim Trammell-Wells having about as big of an impact as someone who doesn’t attempt a field goal can.

Trammell-Wells blanketed Jenkintown’s leading scorer Colin Mulvaney, limiting him to just eight points on 1-for-10 shooting, the frustration exacerbated by second-half foul issues in a game that featured a combined 37 infractions.

“He can flat-out score the ball,’ Trammell-Wells said. “I just had to see where he was at all times, pay extra attention to him than I would any other offensive player on the floor for them. I had to make sure I was an arm length away and that I could body him up.’

Together, Mulvaney and guard Frank Sobolewski entered the game averaging 27.3 points per game; Saturday, they were muted to 14 on 3-for-20 shooting. As a team, Jenkintown shot just 25.6 percent (11-for-43). Only 13 points from Jameson Kolb kept Jenkintown in touch, and it took them going 17-for-21 from the line to stay close.

The Drakes started the second half strong, two Mulvaney free throws capping a 10-2 run in the first 3:35 that put Jenkintown up 31-27. But the Drankes scored just 10 points the rest of the game, allowing Delco Christian to close on a 13-3 run.

The Knights’ win continues an 11-3 tear that started when the team was languishing at 3-10 in mid-January. But more importantly for a group that contains no seniors among their top-eight rotation and is led by a junior class that has played together since third grade, it’s the realization of a dream almost a decade in the works.

“Ever since we were 7-, 8-, 9-years old, this team has been together,’ Trammell-Wells said. “We just always said we’re going to raise a district banner. This is pretty special for this school.’

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