Jenkintown’s versatility helps topple Upper Moreland

JENKINTOWN >> Mia Kolb is a lot like her teammates on the Jenkintown girls basketball team.

Of course she’s going to be like twin sister Natalie, but the starting five of the Drakes and even the first couple of players off the bench are all similar. They’re within a few inches of each other in height, they can all seemingly score inside or outside and any five of them could start.

They’ve also been playing together for two or more seasons and they just work really, really well together.

“We all know how each other plays,” Kolb said. “It’s easy to work together and pass the ball. We all know the plays, it’s a fun team to play on.”

Tuesday, the interchangeable Drakes put their versatility on display as they took care of Upper Moreland 57-29 in the first round of the Robert Hopf Memorial Tournament. Mia Kolb tied with junior Jen Kremp for the team lead with 13 points, but Kolb also chipped in seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Jenkintown’s Caroline Arena gets trapped in a corner with a rebound by Upper Moreland’s Noelle Woodman and Brianna Hughes during their game at the Robert Hopf Memorial Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Ashely Kremp, Jen’s twin, scored 10 points, Amelia Mulvaney had seven while Natalie Kolb and Caroline Arena each had five among the first six players in the Drakes’ rotation. The Kremps each hit two 3-pointers while Arena and Mia Kolb each hit one and their aggressive pressing defense harried Upper Moreland into mistakes all game.

What Jenkintown lacks in height it makes up for in team basketball and defensive energy. The Drakes are right on teams from the beginning and any player can make a turnover lead to a quick bucket out of the press.

“We don’t have a lot of girls but we have quality,” Jenkintown coach Jim Romano said. “We have 11 girls this year and they come into practice every day to work hard and you can see the outcome of their work ethic. They just get at it and that’s the way we need to play.”

Here’s the really scary thing for teams that face Jenkintown regularly, all six of those players are back for at least one more season. The Kremps and Mulvaney are juniors while Arena and the Kolbs are sophomores. Georgia Griffin, another sophomore, provided the final two points for the team on Tuesday.

Upper Moreland’s Maura Casci wins a fight for the ball with Jenkintown’s Jen Kremp during their game at the Robert Hopf Memorial Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Upper Moreland, in its first season under coach Matt Carroll, had a rough start to the game and trailed 25-6 after a quarter. The Golden Bears did get a nice game from freshman Brianna Harris, who had nine points and nine rebounds while junior Caitlin Corr and senior Noelle Woodman ended up with seven points.

The Bears are without a couple of injured rotation players and were, on a few occasions, able to beat Jenkintown’s press with a long outlet pass. Carroll took a timeout early in the second with his team down 31-9 and got into his players, which did seem to spark the Bears to play a little more energized.

It’s just tough to come back against Jenkintown, a team that despite its youth is quite experienced. Jenkintown won the District 1-A title last year and its first round game in the state tournament.

“We got to play better teams at the end of last year,” Kolb said. “It gave us a good look at how those kind of teams play.”

The Drakes didn’t just sit on their accomplishments. Over the offseason, the players put in a lot of work both in the gym and the weight room so they could become better shooters and finishers at the rim. Four players hitting 3-pointers and some of the drives Mulvaney made and finished are proof that work is paying off.

“We are a lot more confident, that’s for sure,” Kolb said. “We do a lot of shooting at practice, a lot of driving. We did it last year a lot, but we’re just a lot more confident this year.”

Jenkintown’s Jen Kremp gets hemmed in by Upper Moreland’s Phoebe Longstreth and Caitlin Coll during their game at the Robert Hopf Memorial Tournament on Friday, Dec. 27, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Kolb may be the player who most embodies that work paying off. Romano said the sophomore is the team’s steadying force, someone who gets them what they need and it was a role she grew into at the end of last season in the playoffs.

Jenkintown will face Sacred Heart, a 53-47 double-overtime winner against Springfield Township, in Wednesday’s championship game. Upper Moreland and Springfield will play for the second time in six days, Springfield having won at UM last Thursday.

“They made a commitment,” Romano said. “Both of the things we put asterisks on, getting stronger and improving our shooting, they’re starting to come around so far.”

Jenkintown 57, Upper Moreland 29
UPPER MORELAND 6 5 8 10 -29
JENKINTOWN 25 13 15 4 -57
Upper Moreland (29): Brianna Hughes 4 1-5 9, Noelle Woodman3 1-2 7, Caitlin Corr 2 2-2 7, Maura Casey 1 0-0 2, Hannah Finn 1 0-0 2, Hannah Stainback 0 1-2 1, Phoebe Longstreth 0 1-2 1, Emma Meakim 0 0-2 0. Nonscoring: Murphy, Wood. Totals: 11 6-15 29.
Jenkintown (57): Jen Kremp 5 1-1 13, Mia Kolb 6 0-0 13, Ashley Kremp 4 0-0 10, Amelia Mulvaney 2 3-5 7, Natalie Kolb 2 1-1 5, Carolina Arena 2 0-0 5, Georgia Griffin 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Jackmon, Robbins,Todaro, Harris. Totals: 22 5-9 57.
3-pointers: UM- Corr; J-J Kremp 2, A Kremp 2, M Kolb, Arena

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