HAMBURG >> It is certainly a rare scenario when a team plays in the second round of the PIAA playoffs and the story of the game really has little to do with what actually transpires in the actual game.
Yes, Jenkintown struggled shooting the ball and finding offensive consistency in general. And that it struggled defensively to contain Lourdes Regional guard Carmella Bickle and forward Frances Czeponis. And eventually the Drakes’ season ended with a 43-29 loss in the second round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
When digging into the makeup of Jenkintown’s team, the playoff run it was on to get to Wednesday night’s second round matchup is nothing short of impressive.
To get into second round, the Drakes first had to go through the District 1-A playoffs as the no.4 seed. No easy task. After knocking off No. 5 seed Christian Academy in the first round, Jenkintown squared off with the top seed Phil-Mont Christian.
Over last several seasons, Jenkintown and Phil-Mont Christian have developed an intense and competitive rivalry. The matchup in the district second round stood as their fourth meeting this season. The Drakes won by a slim two-point margin, 44-42, per usual when the teams meet.
After Jenkintown defeated a tough rival, the road didn’t get any easier as it squared up with the second seed in the tournament Delco Christian, a team that also made the state tournament as the second District One team in. The Drakes once again took care of business a 43-33 win to win the district title.
“Going into the season our goal is to be very competitive with in our league first,” Jenkintown coach Jim Romano said. “Going into the playoff seeded No. 4 we liked that because it gave us another opportunity to play Phil-Mont because that has been a rival over the last few years.”
Fresh off a district championship, the Drakes moved on to state playoffs, where they once again took care of another opponent in the first round, crushing Harrisburg Academy 40-21.
“Winning the district was definitely a big plus for us,” Romano said. “And being able to win the first round and having the opportunity to experience a second round playoff game out here against a very good team it’ll do us a would of good.”
The credentials laid out thus far would be impressive for any team but then looking at the make up of Jenkintown makes exponentially more impressive.
Jenkintown’s starting lineup Wednesday night was made up of one senior, three sophomores and one freshman and the two players it used off the bench were both freshmen.
The mood in the Jenkintown locker room after the game was sad. And of course it was, its season just ended with a state playoff loss but its not too often a good and talented state qualifying team returns 10 of the 11 players on its roster, as will be the case with the Drakes next season.
“They are so exciting to coach and they bring so much energy to the program and they gave me a lot of energy,” Romano said. “You have up and downs over the years and their attitude and the way they conduct themselves as student athletes has really motivated me to get on top of my game because they love the game so much.”
Romano has coached the Drakes for more than 30 years and while he will not admit it and humbly declines his accomplishments to his players and others in the program this season should stand as one of his more impressive coaching performances.