Three years in a row, Delco Christian has been drawn against a daunting foe from the Philadelphia Public League in the first round of the PIAA Class A tournament. Two years ago, Vaux beat Delco Christian before winning the state title, while Math, Civics and Sciences annihilated DC last season en route to the state finals.
That experience gives the Knights a bit of an idea what Paul Robeson, the third seed from District 12, will bring to the table Friday night at 5 p.m. at Council Rock South.
For one, the 9-14 record Robeson boasts is indicative of little, coming from a Public C division loaded with AA and AAA teams. (MCS, it should be noted, was 11-14 heading into states last year.) Robeson lost to MCS in the Public League Round of 16 championship, and the two teams ahead of them in Class A seeding from District 12 are the prohibitive favorite for a state title, Constitution, and MCS. They beat Sankofa Freedom, which made states last year, 72-51, in the third-place elimination game.
Delco Christian coach Don Davis said that there are lessons he can take from his team’s past stumbles against city opposition.
“I think just with their athleticism, we definitely want the game to be played at our pace,” Davis said. “They’re going to want the game, it seems like, played at a little bit faster pace. We have to stay disciplined and do what we want to do.”
Deceptive records is something Delco Christian (14-13) can understand, and not just because they play in a Bicentennial League that intersperses three classes with a tendency to inflate the win totals of AAA teams (ahem, Lower Moreland) and undersell the Class A teams. Beyond that obvious imbalance, DC has also won 11 of its last 14, including the District One title game, a gutsy 50-41 triumph over Jenkintown Saturday paced by 20 points from Danny Browne.
It looks like Browne will have to take a central role again with the status of Devin Hill up in the air. DC’s leading scorer, Hill was ineligible for the Jenkintown game, and Davis said Thursday night that he was not yet sure if Hill would be eligible Friday. Wyatt Harkins, who was limited with foul trouble against Jenkintown, will also have to be more a factor if the Knights want to advance.
In terms of matchups, the most intriguing could be 6-3 forward Willie Grant, the leading scorer for Robeson, who’ll likely do battle with DC’s Grant Fischer in the post. Senior Jahir Lee is one of the prongs of a backcourt attack that is quick if not tall, joining 5-6 sophomore Thomir Jackson and 5-7 soph DJ French. That triumvirate will keep defensive stopper Nazim Trammell-Wells, Jordan Parks and Tracy Tann busy on the defensive end.