By Matthew DeGeorge
As Marple Newtown’s boys basketball team walked off the floor Thursday evening at Harriton High School, there was no doubt in their minds as to what had just been accomplished.
Winners of six straight and seven of eight, the last installment of which was a gutsy 69-63 overtime win away from home, Brian Shane’s team knew it had done all it could to force its way into the District One Class AAAA playoff picture.
“Hey, we won six in a row,’ Shane said Sunday. “The kids did what they had to do. I said that to them afterwards. We did everything we could, so we just have to wait. If we didn’t get in, I think it was a hell of a season, especially the way we finished it.’
All that remained for the 13-9 Tigers was to see if the math agreed with their sense of achievement. Sunday, they got confirmation of that.
Marple earned the 31st seed in the District One Tournament, getting a date in Friday’s opening round with No. 2 seed Methacton.
The Tigers are one of seven teams from Delco to earn berths in Class AAAA. They did so the hard way, mired at 7-9 in mid-January and needing a torrid finish to earn a second season.
In the final six games, they twice topped Harriton, beat a Penncrest team that also made the playoffs and went to Upper Darby to down the Royals in the closing seconds, consigning the Royals to a rare playoff-less season.
“I told the kids that I didn’t know if we needed to win all six, but we told them we’d need at least four or five,’ said Shane, making his first district appearance in three years at the school. “And they just kept winning all those games, just kept knocking them off. It was a pretty incredible run.’