HERSHEY, Pa. — Jim Romano believes Jenkintown, a small school located in a tiny borough of Eastern Montgomery County, is considered by many as the “Rodney Dangerfield” of girls’ basketball.
Well, the longtime coach and the Drakes certainly earned a huge degree of respect for what they accomplished on Tuesday afternoon.
Jenkintown rallied late to force overtime and stunned District 6’s Juniata Valley, 51-46, in the PIAA Class A final at the Giant Center. It marked the program’s first state championship.
“All these years, we understood the situation and where we stood,” Romano said. “Now, we’ve put our name in the record books.”
Senior catalyst Jennifer Kremp sparked the come-from-behind triumph with 24 points, including four three-pointers, and six rebounds. She shot 12 for 15 from the line, including 7 for 8 in OT.
“It hasn’t sunk in that it’s officially over,” Kremp said. “It’s a little sad, but doing this with my best friends is a great feeling.”
Juniata Valley, located about 25 miles southwest of State College, was ahead by 36-27 after Sydney Reed drilled a trey with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in regulation.
“During the media timeout, I looked at Amelia [Mulvaney] and Ashley [Kremp] and said, ‘This is not happening,’ ” Jennifer Kremp said. “We increased our defensive pressure and made them more uncomfortable. And when we turned them over, we made our shots.”
The Drakes (31-1) mustered an 8-0 burst that was highlighted by Mia Kolb’s driving layup and putback. Mulvaney made two free throws to cap the run and cut the gap to one.
After Reed sank a pair of free throws to give the Hornets (23-7) a 38-35 lead with 22 seconds left, Jennifer Kremp forced an extra session with a right-wing trey with 14 seconds to go.
“I was a little off balance when I took the shot, but I had a feeling it would go in,” she said. Said Romano of Kremp’s game-tying bucket, “Jen has been that way all the time she’s been at Jenkintown. She’s just clutch for us.”
Jenkintown started slowly, converted only 5 of 18 field-goal attempts in the opening 16 minutes, and trailed 18-15, at intermission. The Drakes were down, 30-23, early in the fourth stanza.
Mia Kolb contributed 13 points, eight boards, and six steals. Like Jennifer and Ashley Kremp (five boards, three blocks, three steals), juniors Mia and Natalie Kolb (six points, two steals) are twin sisters.
Juniata Valley came up short in the state final for the second straight year. The Hornets, who were hurt by 18 turnovers, were spurred by Reed’s 17 points.
In 36 seasons at Jenkintown, which last season advanced to the state semis, Romano has compiled a 627-333 record (.653 winning percentage).
Jenkintown 3 12 8 15 13 51
Juniata Valley 5 13 10 10 8-46
J: Jennifer Kremp 24, Ashley Kremp 3, Natalie Kolb 5, Amelia Mulvaney 4, Mia Kolb 13, Caroline Arena 2.
JV: Sydney Reed 17, Hayden Taylor 3, Taylor Leidy 8, Halee Smith 11, Maddie Mattas 7.