The Drakes of Jenkintown stunned the Hornets of Juniata Valley in comeback fashion for the PIAA 1A state title by a final score of 51-46.
Down by nine with less than four minutes to play with a state title on the line, the Drakes’ energy in the Giant Center in Hershey started to become lost. Reality started to set in for them, but they refused to believe it. Instead of giving up, they continued to fight and take on the uphill battle. After a strategic timeout from Coach Jim Romano, the Drakes came out with revived energy.
They pressed the Hornets and stole the ball on five straight possessions and converted those turnovers into points with a couple of layups and free throw shots. With only 23 seconds left on the clock and the deficit only at one, they were forced to foul and put senior guard Taylor Leidy on the stripe for two. She made both of them.
As the Drakes drove down the court down by three, junior Mia Kolb passed it off to senior Jennifer Kremp, who put up a three to tie the game; it was nothing but net as the crowd erupted in cheers and disbelief. One more quarter was needed to decide this one.
The Drakes never fell behind in overtime. They got off to a 5-point lead, which they lost as the Hornets still had fight in them. Tied at 46 with under a minute to play, Kremp knocked down two free throws on back to back possessions and pushed the lead to four. Her twin sister Ashley Kremp put the cherry on top with one more free throw with nine seconds to play, and the Drakes pulled it off.
They started off the game only making one of their first 11 shots, but started to heat up after that.
Although the Hornets won the first three quarters and shot better overall, the turnovers and fouls is what really hurt them in the long run. They had a total of 18 turnovers, a lot of them coming when it really mattered late in the game, compared to the Drakes’ eight. They also sent the Drakes to the line a whopping 30 times, with the Drakes converting on 20 of them.
It was a good effort from the Hornets, especially senior Sydney Reed and sophomore Halee Smith, both finishing in double digits. It just was not enough.
Jennifer Kremp, including those clutch shots at the end, finished with 24 points, with half of those points coming from the stripe. Mia Kolb helped out with 13 points and eight rebounds as well. The Drakes, as a team, had a total of 14 steals and that was the big difference in capping of their one loss season with a PIAA state title.