LOWER GWYNEDD — For the first time in eight years, the Delaware County Christian School will not have a girls basketball team playing in a District One championship game.
The sound of that sentence is weird. No matter how well they've done in the regular season, winning Bicentennial League titles or hovering around the .500 mark, the Knights proved they performed at their best in the postseason. This year, however, they didn't have a run in the playoffs.
The second-seeded Knights fell to No. 3 Christopher Dock, 40-29, in the District One Class AA semifinal round at Wissahickon High School Wednesday night.
It marked the end of the careers of two Knights — seniors Jamie Barr and Tori Eppright. Both players experienced the many thrills of claiming two District One Class A titles, and the agony of falling short in consecutive District One Class AA tournaments. Last year, the Knights lost to St. Basil in the District One final, their first season back as an AA program.
So, what went wrong Tuesday night? Coming into the game, the Knights (16-8) had the Pioneers' (15-7) number. Though they didn't necessarily dominate both regular-season meetings, the Knights were a perfect 2-0. The third time was the charm for Dock.
"I think we had a lot of bad passes and we were just everything when we needed to settle down," said Eppright, a starting forward. "We had a lot of turnovers and it just wasn't working out for us."
The Knights committed 20 turnovers and allowed the Pioneers to dictate the pace of the game. It also helped Dock that its top two players, Lanae Hunsberger and Jill Bolton, were healthy and productive. In the teams' prior meetings, Hunsberger and Bolton split missing time against the Knights. If one was playing, the other was not.
This time, the Knights had the tall task of guarding both.
"There's no doubt that having them both back against us gave them a little confidence," Delco Christian coach Mark Weaver said. "I don't know if we couldn't have beat them at full strength. I think, maybe we could have, but they're two very good players that made a difference tonight."
Hunsberger drilled two back-breaking 3-pointers in the second half to fuel the Pioneers to an extended lead and, ultimately, sink the Knights. Her second long back, with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, gave Dock a 31-20 advantage. The Knights, who trailed by five points at halftime, cut their deficit to three points in the third period before Hunsberger and Co. took control for good.
Hunsberger finished with a game-high 16 points to go with five rebounds, four steals and one assist. Bolton, the more physical of the two Dock players, netted 11 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Dock also led a stifling 1-2-2 zone defense in the second half that clogged the lanes for DC guards Siani McNeil (13 points, four steals) and Analeigh Crisanti (four points, two steals, one assist). The Knights simply didn't have the firepower to keep up.
"We had lost (1,000-point scorer) Stacey (MacArthur) and Jocelyn (Chavous) ... and we needed someone to step up — more than one person to step up and fill those shoes,' Weaver said. "It never really materialized. We had been struggling offensively for a couple of games now. When teams want to pack it in, it makes it hard to use your athleticism and drive. When we drove, we really didn't finish.'
Weaver, who led Delco Christian to three straight District One Class A titles, knows the Knights will improve with the core they have in place. But it's so hard to say goodbye.
"(I'm) always terrible at saying goodbye," Weaver said. "It's been a good run. They're probably sick of hearing my voice, but I will miss them greatly and they will always be a part of DC girls basketball."