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Girls basketball: Drakes edge Lions in unbeaten battle

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Like rapper and basketball superfan Drake, the host Jenkintown Drakes were “Too Good” in the second overtime last Wednesday night.

Jenkintown defeated New Hope-Solebury 51-41 in a Bicentennial Battle Royal.

“I wanted them to think about what that feeling is like: to lose in double overtime to a good team,” said New Hope coach Steve Polinsky. “We need to take foul shooting seriously because those little things made a big difference. We could have come out of here with a win but I give (Jenkintown) credit. They made us do things we didn’t want to do.”

The Lions’ quick turnaround- playing Delco Christian on Thursday “might help. But this was definitely a knock on our record,” pointed out New Hope’s Kate Dougherty. “We’re going to bounce back and work our butts off.”

The game featured two of the last three unbeaten Bicentennial teams and the court action lived up to the billing. Buckets from Rachel Saxton and Sabrina Vlahovic gave the Lions an early 7-3 lead.

Jenkintown sank three second-quarter threes as both teams played championship caliber defense. The Drakes led as much as 29-23 midway through the third. New Hope’s Juliana Covino hit a jumper to end the quarter scoring and another J to open the fourth quarter; New Hope regained a 32-31 lead with 6:50 left.

Jenkintown stole the ball with 32 seconds left in a 37-37 game. Saxton stole it back with two seconds left to force overtime.

“Our mentality the whole game was, ‘We’re winning this game.’ We wanted this game really badly,” Vlahovic shared.

Saxton’s three and Dougherty’s free throw put the Lions up 41-39. The Drakes’ Kate McGrath sank two free throws with two seconds left in overtime to re-tie it at 41. Molly Walsh’s basket with 1:24 left in double overtime put the Drakes up 45-41. Jenkintown got stops and sank free throws to pull away.

Jenkintown is “very fundamental and they’ve been playing together forever. They have great chemistry and a very good coach. We all knew it was going to be a tough game,” Polinsky assessed. “I’m proud of my kids for hanging in there through double overtime.”

Free throws were a differentiator. Jenkintown sank 11 of 17 while the Lions struggled from the line. “Foul shooting was key down the end where we could have won the game,” Polinsky pointed out. “But they’re young and they’ll learn from it.”

Carly Mulvaney’s 22 points led all scorers. For New Hope, Saxton’s dozen and Reagan Chrencik’s 10 points paced the Lions. Covino scored eight and added two assists. Dougherty hauled in eight rebounds to go with seven points. Vlahovic grabbed 10 rebounds and recorded six steals.

The Lions’ up tempo contrasted with Jenkintown’s deliberate half-court offense. “We came out to play and we were ready for anything,” Vlahovic said. “Coach has been preparing us for this game for so long. We were expecting anything but we played our game and let them play theirs.”

The two-time reigning conference champ Drakes (19-0, 11-0 BAL) and Lions (14-3, 10-1 BAL) have won the last four Bicentennial tournaments. New Hope hoisted trophies in 2016 and 2017. Both squads knocked off three 6A teams while also rampaging through the BAL.

“We had nothing to lose here. They’re undefeated,” Polinsky told his charges. “I told them to play loose and they did.

“It was a fun game to watch,” Polinsky smiled. “It was a great basketball game.”

The Lions averaged over 55 points per game during the 10-game win streak that they brought into Jenkintown. Chrencik, just a freshman, averaged 20 points a game in the Lions’s three 6A wins.

“It started with our coaching, which was a big change from last year when we worked on taking a really good shot and taking time off of the clock,” Dougherty explained. “This year, we’re running and looking for a good shot early in the possession. Our team chemistry really helps our passing.”

New Hope responded to the setback by assembling another three-game win streak. They feted their lone senior, Vlahovic, with a 56-12 win over Delco. The Lions topped Sacred Heart 44-33 on Monday and thumped Calvary Christian 63-27 on Tuesday.


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