Jenkintown uses 4th quarter defense to beat Plumstead Christian, earn PIAA berth

JENKINTOWN>> Jenkintown has not always been known for its boys basketball team. However, thanks to a 50-35 win Friday night in the District 1-A third place game, the Drakes are headed back to the state playoffs for the second time in three years, something coach Wes Emme and his team are extremely proud of.

“This is our second trip to states in three years, but it’s also our second trip in 30 years, so this one was big,’ said Emme after the game. “I’m very proud of my group, I love this group but I give a lot of credit to Plumstead Christian, they play extremely hard, as a unit, and gave us everything they had.’

The first two quarters went pretty much according to plan for the Drakes.

They took a six-point lead after the first, holding Plumstead to just two points on 1-of-7 shooting.

Then, in the second, a couple of big threes from Jameson Kolb, Mike DiValentino and Jason Plange sent them into halftime holding a 21-16 lead and looking in control.

It was the third quarter that got a little rocky for the Drakes. After holding Plumstead’s leading scorer, Carson Curry, to just six points in the first half, he exploded for 11 of his game-high 21 points in the quarter.

Curry used his surprising length and shifty ball handling to get to the rim and finish, even when surrounded by bigger defenders, and the Drakes saw their five-point halftime lead turn into a 30-30 tie going into the fourth.

“Sometimes we looked good tonight, and sometimes we looked bad,” said Emme. “That’ll happen with high school kids and you saw it with us tonight in that third in this environment that they hadn’t been around in quite some time.’

The Drakes needed to switch it up. With the game now tied, and Plumstead’s leading scorer filling up the stat sheet they needed something to put out the fire.

When the fourth quarter rolled around, and Emme met with his team at their bench, he made a slight switch in who would guard Curry which looked to throw him off just enough to disrupt his rhythm and give the Drakes a chance to get the win.

“He (Curry) is a talented kid and is able to get to spots and time the defenders move and finish,’ said Emme. “Jason Plange was doing a great job but we needed to make Curry uncomfortable and put someone else on him so we put John Contoudis on him, who is one of our best on-ball defenders, and he did well with that.’

Curry managed just four points in the final quarter, and the rest took care of itself.

The Drakes built up a 15-point lead behind 11 fourth-quarter points from their own leading scorer, Kolb, and secured their trip to the state playoffs that they’d been gunning for all year long.

“It feels great to be going back to states,’ said Kolb. “We came really close in our last state playoff game 2 years ago and losing was rough. We wanted to get back and get another shot at it and now we have that.’

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