Harriton girls’ basketball team celebrates special senior class

Rosemont –  Harriton girls basketball coach Messiah Reames had a simple message for his team prior to their contest against Marple Newtown Feb. 4 – “Play hard and send our senior class out the right way.”

After recognizing Reames’ first senior class consisting of Gabrielle Kontra, Sophia Kontra, Olivia Tevis and Haley Morris in a pre-game ceremony the Rams went out and earned a 50-36 victory. Combined with Radnor’s loss to Strath Haven, the win allowed Harriton to earn the fourth and final spot in the Central League playoffs.

“This is a special group of kids who individually and collectively as a group bring something different to this family,” Reames said. “Gabrielle and Sophia Kontra show up and work hard every day. Even though they don’t play that much you would never know it. That’s a testament to their work ethic and it shows you can impact a team more than being on the court. Regarding Haley, I can’t speak enough about her. I remember when she was a freshman and couldn’t remember any of the plays. I told to her to forget the plays and just play as a hard as you can. She is still doing that four years later and has become our defensive specialist. Liv (Tevis) has been starting since she showed up three years ago and has hit some big shots in close games for us and does whatever we ask to get the job done.”

Harriton’s Senior Night could not have been scripted any better with Gabrielle Kontra scoring the first basket of the game and twin sister Sophia Kontra and Morris registering the final Harriton points.

“Coach told us before the game that we control our own destiny and we had to focus on the next three games taking it one game at a time,” Morris said. “It ended up being senior night but it was also one of our most important games and we wanted to make sure end on a high note.”

Gabrielle Kontra added, “It was amazing. I cannot think of anything better. I am not playing next year so to go out like this in my final home game is just really fun. To score the first basket and give the team some energy was something I will always remember.”

When Reames took the helm four years ago he inherited a program he knew would take new shape two years later following the graduation of a talented senior class that included 1,000-point scorers Katie Melvin and Sabrina Tabasso along with Nadirah Anderson.

Faced with the daunting task of rebuilding a program, Reames knew he had to create a new approach without deviating from his expectations. Although he knew his teams would take some lumps he knew they would be better for it.

“Coach never backed off,” Morris said. “He never lowered his expectations which I think was special for us. They did not want to let us down and we did not want to let them down.”

Reames said, “If you take the basketball aspect from the equation we have built a strong relationship. I may be hard on them but at the same time they know I will run through a brick wall for them. If you can build a trust then the basketball part becomes easy. These seniors have done a wonderful job of conveying that message to the younger kids.”

Following a difficult 2014-15 campaign, the reward was a successful 2015-16 campaign that resulted in a top four finish in the Central League accompanied by a spot in the PIAA District One Class AAAA tournament.

“”I felt the important aspect was that we had a close team,” said Sophia Kontra. “We play better when we are closer together as a team rather than a group of individuals.”

Tevis added, “My experience at Harriton has been great. I got a chance to play with girls that I grew up with and it’s crazy to think our season is almost over.”


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