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Abington in control in win over Pennsbury

ABINGTON >> Once his team’s lead was whittled down to single digits in the fourth quarter, Abington girls basketball coach Dan Marsh called a timeout.

The Ghosts had been in control of their game against Pennsbury for most of the night and Marsh wanted to implore his players to finish the game that way too. Pennsbury wasn’t going quietly and this wasn’t the time for Abington to let the Falcons back in the game.

Abington scored the next six, regained control and finished off a 62-46 win Thursday night to head into the holiday break on a two-game winning streak.

“We knew they were going to be better coming in and it was a good game,” Marsh said. “I thought eventually we would take control and we did. When we play the way we do, teams are going to make runs and we just have to make runs back at them.”

Pennsbury, in its second season with coach Frank Sciolla, is getting better but still looking to beat the upper tier teams in the Suburban One League National Conference like Abington, Council Rock North and Neshaminy. Thursday’s game provided a good test for the underclassmen-heavy Falcons against Abington’s aggressive press defense and the two-way presence of junior Kassondra Brown.

Brown had a sterling game for Abington, scoring 18 points with 17 rebounds and her presence on the back end of the defense is a deterrent to teams trying to pass over the Ghosts’ four scrambling guards. Abington hit nine 3-point shots on Thursday, with their 6-foot-2 center burying the first one.

“Kassondra Brown is really improved,” Sciolla said. “She’s moving a lot better, she knocked down a three tonight. That I will say, when you talk about omens, when she busted a three from the corner to start the game you’re wondering if they’re going to be in for one of those nights where they shoot the ball really well. It was hard for us, we’re not the biggest team in the world and we have to battle out there.”

Abington’s 3-point shooting helped it take a 15-8 lead after the first quarter, with the Ghosts knocking down a trio of treys. Pennsbury showed its grit in the second quarter after Abington opened up a 10-point lead, with the Falcons outscoring Abington 12-4 to get within a score at 24-22.

Sciolla cited the play of freshman Bella Arcuri and sophomores Mary Miller and Cami Wiegard, especially their willingness to attack Abington’s defense and try to get to the rim.

“They did turn us over a bunch, they did speed us up but we stayed in it,” Sciolla said. “We made some plays. We wanted them to go forward and not backwards, we didn’t want them to get trapped or pressed twice and I thought we did that.”

Abington pulled away once Pennsbury had gotten within two and took a 33-26 lead into the break thanks in large part to Brown and guard Sam Brusha. Brusha dropped 12 of her game-high 21 in the second quarter with Brown adding the Ghosts’ other six points in the frame.

Brown is still adjusting to life as the only post player on the team without Lizzie Oleary, now a freshman at Delaware. The junior said it took her some time to get used to being the only presence inside, but with the team’s wealth of shooters, it’s still providing her space to work.

“Most of the time we run four-out with one in, and I’m looking to cut so if I cut down the lane, I’m going to get the ball almost every time,” Brown said. “In the preseason, it was a little shaky because I was used to having someone I could drop the ball off to but I’m adjusting to it, the coaches are telling me to look to score more.”

Expecting to take a bigger role this season, Brown put in a lot of work over the summer to prepare herself. The forward really improved her conditioning and got in great shape and it’s showing so far this season.

“I took every a lot more seriously,” Brown said. “I have a lot more pressure on me, so I made sure I was in the gym every day this summer. I feel a lot better, everything’s easier and I’m faster so it makes me more of a threat.”

After building and maintaining a double-digit lead for most of the third quarter, 3-pointer by Jordyn Allen put Abington ahead 52-35 with 5:15 to play in the fourth quarter. Pennsbury, which had gotten into the bonus late in the third, continued to attack and earned several trips to the foul line, chopping the Ghosts’ lead to 52-43 with 3:13 left, prompting Marsh to call a timeout.

Out of the break, Abington junior Cam Lexow got the ball, charged up court and drilled a jumper just inside the arc. Brit James (nine assists) got a steal and Brown got fouled, hitting both freebies. Lexow (five offensive rebounds) came up with a steal of her own, got fouled and Brown was able to grab a miss on the second and put it back for a bucket to restore order.

“We relaxed a little bit so I called the timeout to say don’t let this team back in the game, go out and take care of business,” Marsh said. “We made another run at them and that ended it. Inch by inch, we’re getting there.”

Pennsbury junior Kate Mix, the team’s top returning scorer, went down late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

“We’re in a situation where we’re not the deepest team this year,” Sciolla said. “We’re hoping for the best for Kate. We have to keep trying to get better every day.”

Abington heads west next week to participate in a tournament in the Pittsburgh area with some of the WPIAL’s top programs in the field.

“I think we’re a lot more confident, we’re heading in with a mini-streak,” Brown said. “It’s going to bring us together as a team and they’re pretty tough teams out there so it’s just another test.”

Prior to the game, both teams took part in Abington’s annual holiday tradition of presenting gifts to a family in need. This was the seventh year the Ghosts have done it.

ABINGTON 62, PENNSBURY 46
PENNSBURY 8 18 6 14 – 46
ABINGTON 15 18 15 14 – 62
Pennsbury: Cam Wiegard 5 1-1 12, Sydney Buell 2 7-8 12, Mary Miller 3 4-6 10, Bella Arcuri 3 2-3 9, Kate Mix 1 1-3 3. Totals: 14 15-21 46.
Abington: Sam Brusha 5 8-8 21, Kassondra Brown 6 5-8 18, Jordyn Allen 3 0-0 9, Brit James 2 0-1 6, Cam Lexow 2 0-2 4, Miranda Liebtag 2 0-0 4. Nonscoring: Tamia Wessels. Totals: 20 13-19 62.
3-pointers: A – Brusha 3, Allen 3, James 2, Brown; P – Arcuri, Buell, Wiegard.

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