Molly Walsh feels the impact of what the Jenkintown girls’ basketball team has accomplished every time she walks down the street.
“People will walk up and congratulate us who we don’t even know,” the junior swing forward said on Monday. “And it’s such a great feeling because everyone knows the history, your record, how you did in the last game. It’s hard to explain, but it’s really incredible.”
What Jenkintown has done over the last three seasons has been hard to believe for the tiny school with a PIAA-listed female enrollment of 67 students. The Drakes have won 86 of their last 89 games, two District 1 Class A championships and a PIAA state title in 2018.
On Wednesday night, Jenkintown (26-0) will look to add another district title to the mantle when it takes on Chester Charter in the Class A final at Lower Moreland.
“We’ve been blessed the last few years to have tremendous student-athletes, parents and a lot of people who have put a lot of hard work into our program,” Jenkintown head coach Jim Romano said. “There are so many pieces to the puzzle that have fit together, and it’s been a tremendous ride.”
This year’s version of the Drakes has done it without a single senior on the 11-player roster. At the beginning of the season, Romano was concerned about that but realized that the run in the last two years gave Jenkintown one big advantage.
“One thing that has ended up being a plus for us is the fact that they have played in big games the last few years,” Romano said. “When you play in those types of games, you get to understand what it takes in those spots. And these girls play all year around, so there’s a sense that they have been together and know what they have to do.”
Carly Mulvaney, Walsh and Katie McGrath have all averaged double figures in scoring. However, it has been Jenkintown’s defense that has been the main portion of the story, holding opponents to less than 40 points in 20 of the 26 games.
“We knew that this year everyone had to step up because we didn’t have the seniors,” Walsh said. “It’s a matter of just doing our jobs and working hard at practice. We’ve all had one goal, and we’ve been able to stick to that so far.”
Jenkintown’s small size can get overshadowed in a major marketplace such as Philadelphia, where bigger programs and higher profile leagues usually end up drawing most of the attention.