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Chester Charter SA pushes but can’t halt Jenkintown’s district title streak

LOWER MORELAND — A few precious seconds remained on the clock Wednesday night when Carly Mulvaney looked like she finally felt at peace. The Jenkintown senior had an opportunity to pass the ball without a hand — or several hands — in her face. She smiled as the horn sounded, then hugged her teammates.

Finally, Mulvaney and the Drakes found relief. It came in the form of familiarity.

Jenkintown held off a feverish Chester Charter Scholars Academy squad, 54-34, to win the program’s fifth consecutive district basketball championship, this one in the District 1-12 Class A Regional.

The top-seeded Drakes (27-0) shook off a first-half malaise, which included six turnovers and a 9-for-26 performance from the field. They closed the game by making 10 of their final 18 shots, en route to yet another district crown for coach Jim Romano’s team.

Mulvaney filled up the stat sheet with 23 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and two blocks. In the fourth quarter, when the Drakes finally pulled away, she went 3-for-3 from the floor and 6-for-6 at the foul line.

“It was a tough game, one of the toughest we’ve had,” Mulvaney said. “(Chester Charter) played really well. They play fast. We tried to drive more, which turned out to be more effective. But in the beginning, we didn’t make any easy shots. It made it hard for us.”

Jenkintown prefers to press early, forcing turnovers and collecting easy buckets on fastbreak opportunities. Acknowledging the speed and athleticism of coach DeJuana Mosley’s team at Chester Charter (17-6), the Drakes changed their gameplan. The result? The third-seeded Sabers kept it to a one-point game, 10-9, after one quarter, and trailed by a manageable margin, 23-17, at halftime.

“I was shocked. We had them held down for a long time,” Chester Charter forward D’Ayzha Atkinson said. “Then we just let it slip away.”

“Yeah, we were just trying to prevent easy baskets, I guess,” said teammate Ceyrah Williams. “We didn’t keep up with them.”

A baseline drive by Jenkintown’s Molly Walsh resulted in an up-and-under basket and a trip to the foul line. That gave the Drakes a 27-17 edge. They continued to pad that lead through the second half. Katie McGrath had a steal at one end and a fastbreak layup at the other, and Mulvaney had a drive-and-kick to Walsh for a corner 3-pointer to punctuate a dominant third quarter.

Chester Charter, fielding a varsity team for only the third season, appeared outmatched.

“We have a hard-working group and, to play a full season with eight players, it shows what they’re capable of,” Mosley said. “By the second half, it was a matter of experience. (The Drakes) have been here before. We haven’t. They knew how to handle the situation. We didn’t. It came down to familiarity with this stage of the season. They took a punch from us and, in the second half, they did what they had to do.”

Atkinson finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and two steals for the Sabers, who have qualified for the PIAA tournament. They have yet to hear who they will face. Williams showed activity all over the floor, tallying eight points, seven steals, six assists and four rebounds.

The Drakes head into next week’s PIAA tournament at the top of the bracket. They have reached the state semifinals each of the last three seasons, winning the title in 2018.

“It’s a lot of pressure at this stage of the season because we don’t lose a lot of games,” said Walsh, who racked up 13 points. “We know what’s at stake. We know what’s on the line.”



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