Without Hill, Delco Christian’s resilience has been remarkable

NORTHAMPTON — There’s a slight look of resignation on Jordan Parks’ face when the question is lobbed his way Friday at Council Rock South High School.

After two straight games — the two most important of the year — without leading scorer Devin Hill, are Parks and his Delco Christian teammates accustomed to compensating for the loss?

The answer takes nothing away from Hill, who averaged 14 points per game this season, including 30 in the Knights’ District One Class A quarterfinal win over Faith Christian and a double-overtime buzzer beater in the semifinal triumph over Christopher Dock.

But Parks also doesn’t diminish the resilience it’s taken for the Knights to claim a District One title and a PIAA Tournament win — both the program’s first since 2006 — sans Hill.

“I feel like our whole team is really mentally tough,’ Parks said Friday after helping his team recover from a 13-point deficit to beat Paul Robeson, 58-53. “The group that’s playing together now has been playing together for such a long time. Dev came in just a couple of years ago and it feels like he was here for the longest time. But without him, it’s just back to what we were always doing before.’

The Knights hope that continuity will pilot them through the next challenge, a PIAA Class A second round contest with Millersburg Tuesday night. The game at Hamburg Area High School tips off at 7.

There is no denying Hill’s immense impact on the Knights (15-13), who are on a tear, having won 12 of 15. But Hill was ruled ineligible for the District One final against Jenkintown (a 50-41 DC win) and the victory over District 12 third seed Robeson. His status remains up in the air for Tuesday.

The Knights, though, haven’t missed a beat, a reality that is more laudatory of the team’s chemistry than derogatory to Hill. Many of the Knights have been cultivating relationships on the court since third grade, and those relationships are what players have leaned on in the face of adversity.

The response has been built around the scoring touch of Danny Browne, who has averaged 21.5 points per game over the last two contests. But everyone has stepped up in one form or another.

Though Wyatt Harkins struggled with foul trouble against Jenkintown, he scored 12 points and dished nine assists against Robeson. Grant Fischer has 22 points in his last two outings, up from his average of 8.3 ppg.

Big man Jalen Johns, who scored just 19 points in his first 22 games of the season, has 11 in the last two. Parks, not much of a scorer, tallied seven against Robeson. And Jordan Parks and Nazim Trammell-Wells have continued their strong defensive play, frustrating the top scorers for Jenkintown (Chris Mulvaney, who went 1-for-10 from the field for eight points) and Robeson (DJ French, who scored 16 first-half points last Friday, then two in the second half).

The Knights’ second-round opponent is also in an unexpected position, but for a much different reason. Millersburg (18-8) was elevated to the top seed in District 3 when Hilda Goodling Impact Academy withdrew from the PIAA Tournament due to financial difficulties amid an uncertain future for the charter school in York. Impact, which reported to the PIAA having just 15 students enrolled, defeated Millersburg, 65-59, in the District Three championship game Feb. 27.

Millersburg adjusted quickly to the shift in matchup that it was informed of last Tuesday, beating Mansfield, the second seed from District Four, 57-41, in its states opener. The Indians boast a variety of weapons to throw at the Knights, including Christian Keiter, who collected 18 rebounds against Mansfield and figures to give Fischer a go in the low post. Christian Wingard, a 6-1 guard, is among their most potent scorers, while Paeton Warfel, Connor Keim and Rob Burger also chip in offensively.

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