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Harkins keeps Delco Christian in fight to the end

HARRISBURG >> When his basketball career is over, and that will not be before years in the college game, Wyatt Harkins plans a career in law-enforcement with hopes to someday join the FBI.

With the way he can read the clues, predict what is coming and handle a tough situation, the Delco Christian guard should be a natural.

After nearly carrying the Knights to a victory Tuesday in the second round of the PIAA Class A tournament with a fourth-quarter scoring outburst, the versatile 6-1 senior knew exactly what was coming.

Wyatt Harkins, shown in action against Phil-Mont Christian, scored 27 points and nearly willed Delco Christian to victory in Tuesday’s PIAA Class A second-round game against Shenandoah Valley. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

Wyatt Harkins, shown in action against Phil-Mont Christian, scored 27 points and nearly willed Delco Christian to victory in Tuesday’s PIAA Class A second-round game against Shenandoah Valley. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

“I have been box-and-one’d more times this year,” he said, “than I can even count.”


So after Harkins scored 12 fourth-quarter points to push the Knights toward fulfillment, he was hit with the usual trick defense, the game flattened, and the Knights were eliminated from the tournament with a 62-58 loss to Shenandoah Valley at Central Dauphin East High.

Not that Harkins and the Knights were stumped by the initiative, as they were within two points with 27 seconds to play. But in what Delco Christian coach Don Davis acknowledged was a challenging season, the deficit finally provided one too many hurdles.

Harkins delivered 27 points and Bryce Shook added 16, but a season defined by players missing games, often with difficult injuries, ended at 15-13. With a push from Joel Santana’s 21 points and 19 from Ian McCole, Shenandoah Valley would take a 19-8 record into the quarterfinals.

“We had great expectations,” Davis said. “We had five seniors who were playing together since second grade. So these were home-grown kids who had really come up through the program. And I think we played six games all season with a full roster.

“It’s been a season of adversity. But these guys have persevered throughout it all.”

Early Tuesday, it was the Blue Devils who were under pressure, as Delco Christian led, 12-7, after the first quarter and 24-19 at halftime. But perhaps lifted by a large crowd of supporters, Shenandoah Valley mixed in three third-quarter 3-pointers to bring a 41-36 lead into the final eight minutes.

That’s when Harkins decided that his senior season would not end quietly and scored the Knights’ first eight fourth-quarter points.

“I just knew that this year I have kind of been the go-to guy,” said Harkins, a West Chester resident. “And so I knew that was the time to step up. I was pretty quiet in the other quarters. But I had to step up as the senior leader on this team. So I just did what I could. And my guys put me in the best position, got me open and put the ball in my hands. They did most of the work and I just put it in.”

Even when the Blue Devils responded with the box-and-one, Delco Christian remained calm. Harkins fed Shook for a layup to pull the Knights within 53-51 with 2:15 left. Shook’s follow-up drew Delco Christian within 57-53 with 1:19 to play.

With 34 seconds showing, Jordan Parks took a defensive rebound of a failed Shenandoah Valley free throw and pushed it the length of the court for a layup to cut a Devils lead to 57-55. But Shenandoah Valley, which made seven of 10 free throws in the final 2:10, did enough from the line to build a 60-55 lead with nine seconds left.

Harkins’ 3-pointer beat the horn, gave him 15 fourth-quarter points and sent him toward a college career, with Division II Lock Haven and Division III John Jay College of Criminal Justice the most deeply involved in his recruiting.

“All year, he has just willed it,” Davis said. “In the fourth quarter, he just took it on himself to answer the call. And we just ended up a few points short.”

Soon enough, it won’t take the FBI to see the evidence of a satisfying season.

“All in all, I am very pleased by how our season went,” said Shook, who had missed two seasons with an injured knee. “I was just happy to be back out here again with these guys. It was an extraordinary year.

“We have been through a lot together, not just this year but in the past. And I have just been blessed to come back and be able to play with these guys.”

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