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Lenape seniors out to duplicate youth success

Jeff McGarry calls it "the end of a dynasty."

Jeff McGarry calls it "the end of a dynasty."

That's not quite right.

Not yet, anyway.

It was a youth-baseball dynasty in the Mt. Laurel area. It was a remarkable run for a group of talented players who made their way through the age brackets, winning five state titles and making the Cal Ripken World Series as 10-year-olds.

It has been a little different at Lenape High School.

Make no mistake, these guys have been top players on a top team. Lenape was No. 1 in South Jersey in 2010, winning the rugged Olympic Conference American Division as well as the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, and the Indians have been good again this season.

Lenape is 18-8. The Indians won a share of the Olympic American title. They are in the South Jersey Group 4 finals for the second year in a row, with a date at Cape-Atlantic power Millville on Friday.

But for McGarry and fellow seniors Stefan Kancylarz, Bryan Clayton, Chris Malinowski, and Steve Doulong - the heart and soul of all those trophy-winning youth teams - there's some unfinished business.

Lenape is seeking its first South Jersey championship since 1991.

"It's time to take one home," McGarry said.

McGarry has been making the most of his final days as a scholastic athlete. Last Friday, he was one strike away from the end of his career - and the end for his classmates, too - when he drove a 3-2 pitch over the left-field fence to keep alive a tournament game against Cherry Hill East.

"I don't want it to end," McGarry said.

McGarry, who plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania, is batting .486 with six doubles, eight homers, and 30 RBIs. On the mound, where he likely will start Friday's sectional final, he's 6-2 with a 3.50 ERA and 45 strikeouts and just 15 walks.

"He's been a quality player all year," Lenape coach Phil Fiore said. "It's just that time of the year now. They're all clicking pretty good."

In Tuesday's 11-0 victory over Eastern in the sectional semifinals, McGarry was 3 for 3 with three RBIs. Clayton was 3 for 4 with two RBIs. Kancylarz rapped a triple and drove in two runs. Malinowski had two hits and two RBIs. Doulong stole a base and scored a run.

"We've talked about that," Fiore said of his seniors' performance in the crucial moments of their careers. "These guys want a championship. They believe it's about time to do this."

These guys won big at the youth level. They've won in high school, too. They've been the nucleus of one of South Jersey's best programs over the last few seasons.

But they never figured they would be good in high school. They figured they would be great.

The difference is determined in these games at this time of the season. They're here. They're at the defining moment.

McGarry and his classmates have reached the point to show whether all that youth-level success was the highlight, or just the preview.