Defense, balance pivotal in Phil-Mont Christian’s win over Jenkintown

SPRINGFIELD >> In what is one of the better girls basketball rivalries going in the Bicentennial Athletic League, there is always going to be a lot of back-and-forth between Jenkintown and Phil-Mont Christian Academy. It was easy to see the team that executed best would come out on top.

“The key was defense, we said it right from the get-go,” Phil-Mont head coach Bill DeHeer said. “Our goal was seven points a quarter.”

It wasn’t quite seven points per quarter, but holding the Drakes to just under nine per frame was good enough for the Falcons to go into Jenkintown and come out with a 38-35 win Tuesday night.

Phil-Mont was led by senior Tracey Goodman, who played all 32 minutes on the night. The Rider commit finished with 12 points to pace the Falcons (7-1, 4-0 BAL Constitution), who had five different players register in the score sheet.

“We just needed to calm down and not play up to the hype that the crowd was giving us because that’s what happens every time we come here,” Goodman said. “We took a deep breath, we had confidence, and we went out there and did it.”

“What worked was balanced scoring,” DeHeer said. “I have two Division I players that average 15 and 20 points per game – one of them had 12 and one of them had (eight). My two sophomores had nine and seven…That’s what you need to beat a balanced team.”

Phil-Mont Christian’s second Division I player, Keyen Green, registered four buckets for eight points. Kayla Griffin and Jael Jackson were the sophomores with nine and seven points, respectively.

Griffin also showed off her clutch gene in the guts of the game when she was fouled with seven seconds left and Phil-Mont ahead 36-35. It was just a one-and-one, but the point guard nailed both her free throws.

“I was just trying to not think about the crowd and how loud it was and just focus on my game,” Griffin said. “I put up a lot of shots in practice.”

“That was huge because the in-bounds play was written up for Goodman to get it and she got it instead,” DeHeer said. “She’s pretty calm on the free throw line.”

Phil-Mont had a huge size advantage in the game, but Jenkintown (7-1, 4-1) made up for that with their press. The result was an even first half that had the Drakes in front 22-20 thanks to a layup that beat the first-half buzzer.

Jenkintown was led by Jennifer Kremp and Mia Kolb, each of whom had 12 points and accounted for all five of the Drakes’ threes.

They also made five of the eight free throws for Jenkintown, who was just 8-of-21 from the line in the game.

The second half started with a 10-0 run by Phil-Mont to give it a lead the Falcons wouldn’t relinquish. Goodman had the first two baskets of the half and 10 points in the final 16 minutes. She also had two huge blocks in the fourth quarter with the score 36-35.

“Last time we played them (a 53-52 Jenkintown win on Dec. 5) the same thing would happen, a girl would drive in the middle and we’d block it, but they made a shot by getting the rebound,” Goodman said. “Our whole goal at practice after that game was to defend the middle. If we block it, block it out or bounds or grab the rebound.”

The victory obviously doesn’t clinch the league for Phil-Mont, but it sets them on the right track. It also gives the Falcons a little revenge.

“It’s huge,” DeHeer said. “Last year it was incredibly difficult. We had some circumstances in the game that left some players really raw… it was just a really tough situation. To come in here and reverse that and win is huge.”

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