Burke gears up, Haverford School outpaces Episcopal

NEWTOWN SQUARE >> As a freshman, Gavin Burke forged a reputation as a player best not left unattended beyond the perimeter.

As a sophomore, the Haverford School guard is accumulating new layers to his danger on the court. Tuesday, that made the difference for the Fords in a tricky road contest.

Burke scored six of his nine points amind a third-quarter spurt and dished five assists as Haverford School topped Episcopal Academy, 54-51, in Inter-Ac action.

Burke’s run enlivened a stagnant third quarter that featured just one player scoring for each team in the first five minutes of the frame, through a succession of turnovers. He jolted the game with one of the more underrated skills in his arsenal, blowing by defenders to create opportunities for himself and others.

“Some of the kids that were covering me, I felt like they couldn’t match my speed,” Burke said. “I wanted to take it to the basket. And I also felt on defense, I wanted to get as many stops as possible, and get in their face as much as possible.”

His most resonant drive was a sortie down the right wing and under the rim for a leaping kick-out to Kharon Randolph, who buried an open 3-pointer. That basket for Randolph, who scored 20 points, put Haverford School up 44-37, early in the fourth.

“We practice that a lot, drive and kicks,” Burke said. “I think (Kharon) always assumes when I’m driving he should spot up and look for the ball.”

Episcopal cut the deficit to one in the final minute with a 7-0 run culminating in a Jack O’Connell corner 3-pointer. But the Churchmen extracted all they could from Conner Delaney, who poured in a game-high 25 points but shot just 8-for-23 from the field and 2-for-9 in the fourth.

The Fords (12-1, 2-0), meanwhile, shot 9-for-12 after halftime to consolidate an early lead in what projects to be a crowded Inter-Ac race.

Christian Ray provided the Fords impetus out of the break with the first five points of the third quarter on the way to 17. He and Delaney went shot for shot in the third, Delaney scoring 10 points in the frame.

Then Burke came to life with a pair of drives and another deuce in transition off a home-run pass from Randolph.
Ray’s only basket of the fourth quarter on a putback nudged Haverford to its largest lead, 48-40, with four minutes left. The Churchmen (8-9, 1-1) weren’t done, however.

Kyle Virbitsky, who scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, picked up the slack for a tiring Delaney and the continued absence of two-time All-Delco Nick Alikakos (ankle) with four points from the line. He also dished to

O’Connell for the corner trifecta with 60 seconds left to make it 50-49.

But Randolph steadfastly pounded out the clock and went 6-for-6 from the line in the fourth to seal the Fords’ win.

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