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Harriton girls’ basketball turnaround season ends in district opener

Since Harriton girls’ basketball head coach Messiah Reames came through the doors and entered the school’s gym four years ago the message has always been the same – We Work.

“That’s all we know how to do,” Reames said following his team’s hard fought 56-39 loss at Downingtown East in the first round of the PIAA District One Class AAAA playoffs Feb. 13. “We compete the whole time. All I ask is for effort. I can handle the basketball nuances. Our shots weren’t falling today. Nothing you can do. We demand effort, enthusiasm and energy. That is the stamp of Harriton basketball.”

“The motto has been since the first day we walked into the gym,” said Harriton senior co-captain Haley Morris. “The coaches will not ask us to do something we can’t do. We have never been yelled at for missing a shot or making a bad pass. We just had to play full effort.”

Harriton junior Sophie Grady added, “Effort wins games. It doesn’t matter who you play. You will have a positive outcome win or lose as long as you give full effort.”

Those characteristics were clearly on display for all to see in the opening round of the PIAA District One Class AAAA tournament when the No. 22 seed Rams took the court against No. 11 seed Downingtown East.

When the two teams played early in the season with Downingtown East emerging with the 43-37 victory back on Dec. 5, both teams were trying to figure the best combination of players who gelled with each other.

This time around, both teams knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and although the Cougars grabbed an early lead, Downingtown East head coach Tom Schurtz sent an early message to his team to keep fighting because Harriton would not go away.

Although Harriton (15-9) would never be able to slice into the 26-11 halftime lead Downingtown East built up, the Rams stayed true to their motto and continued to make sure the Cougars had to earn every basket.

“This team never gave up,” said Reames. “We did everything we could and battled the whole time. I have never been prouder of a team in my life.”

“Today was tough,” said Morris. “Our shots weren’t falling but we never really dwell on that. We always focus on our defense and we believe we always have a chance to come back.”

Harriton freshman Alana Swift added, “This team has been great. They push us every day in practice and make sure we work hard. It meant a lot and there is always a good thought process.”

While it feels like the season may have ended earlier than most would have hoped, this year’s Rams team has plenty to be proud of bouncing back from a rough 2014-15 campaign that concluded with a 7-15 finish to finish 15-9 and a spot in the Central League playoffs, along with a berth in the district tourney.

“Last year was tough because we put in the work and we didn’t get to see results,” said Morris. “This year we gave the same effort and it felt rewarding to see results.”

“Our seniors were great this year,” added Grady. “They showed us what happens when you push each other in practice and how important leadership is. I know that I have to assume that leadership next year.”

“This team was filled with great kids,” said Reames. “They knew what it was going to take and from the first day they showed up and worked hard. Haley knew it was her time to lead.”

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