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Abington off the mark in loss to Neumann-Goretti

PHILADELPHIA >> In theory, shots right at the rim in basketball are the easiest to make.

Sometimes, theory and execution don’t exactly get along. Saturday, Abington got plenty of chances around the rim but the Galloping Ghosts weren’t putting them away. On some nights, a team can survive that, but not so much when the opponent is a state title contender.

An uncharacteristically cold offense coupled with a defensive lapse in the third quarter was too much for Abington to overcome in a 70-60 loss to Neumann-Goretti as part of the Play-by-Play Classic at Jefferson University.

“We took 56 shots but we shot 21-of-56,” Abington coach Charles Grasty said. “We got a ton of shots, that wasn’t the problem. They didn’t fall tonight and that’s the game of basketball, sometimes they fall and sometimes they don’t.”

Abington’s Robert Heath lays up a shot against Neuman-Goretti’s Chris Ings during their game on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

The Saints (4-1), who yearly contend for PCL and PIAA Class 3A titles, have a balanced roster of marksman guards and physical, big forwards. Neumann-Goretti big man Marcus Littles, a George Washington recruit, had the size to mess with Abington’s Eric Dixon on the block.

Dixon still had the edge in footwork and quickness, but Littles and fellow forwards TaQuan Woodley and Ja’Cor Smith made sure Abington (4-1, 2-0 SOL National) didn’t get any easy looks in the paint. Woodley in particular had a couple of emphatic blocks.

N-G opened up a 12-5 lead on Abington, which had to adjust to the physical nature the Saints were playing with. Once Abington settled down, it was right in the game the entire first half and trailed just 29-26 at the half.

“We were right there, we were missing chippies right at the rim, shots that normally fall for us, they didn’t fall early,” said. “We battled our way back. Our shots were there, we just couldn’t get them to fall.”

In the first half, every time the Ghosts got within a possession or two, Neumann-Goretti kept making 3-pointers to press its lead back out. That fact would play a huge part in the third quarter, where the Saints’ shooters really got going.

Abington’s Lucas Monroe lays up a shot against Neuman-Goretti during their game on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

N-G senior Noah Warren went off in the third, scoring 14 points and shooting 4-of-5 on threes. They weren’t all easy makes either, but Warren was simply in a zone and fellow guard Dymir Montague was right next to Warren, burying two treys of his own.

The Saints out-scored the Ghosts 22-11 in the third and shot 6-of-8 as a team from beyond the arc.

“I thought when we came out, we didn’t give the effort we needed to in that third quarter,” Grasty said. “Credit to them too, they hit shots. They made a bunch of threes, especially in the third quarter and it was an uphill battle after that. We wanted to see if they could make shots and they did, we made a few adjustments but they continued to knock shots down after that.”

Warren led Neumann-Goretti with 23 points while Montague poured in 20 of his own. Abington was paced by 26 points and 14 rebounds from Dixon, but the junior forward was far from his usual efficient self.

Abington’s Darious Brown goes up for a shot against Neuman-Goretti’s Chris Ings during their game on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Abington is still finding a rhythm this season. The Ghosts played on opening weekend, had an entire week off and played three games in the past seven days. Next week, the Ghosts will return to Jefferson to face Archbishop Carroll as part of the Pete and Jameer Nelson Classic.

Aside from a few minutes in the third quarter, the effort was there for Abington. The Ghosts are still 4-1 and they saw when they are playing with the right effort, they can hang with some of the state’s best.

“We didn’t draw anything up, we just started playing harder and that’s what we told the guys,” Grasty said. “We’ll bounce back. We missed some shots we’d normally make. They’re high school kids, that’s what they’d rather d0, they want to play games, not practice.”

NEUMANN-GORETTI 70, ABINGTON 60
NEUMANN-GORETTI 12 17 22 19 – 70
ABINGTON 10 16 11 23 – 60
NG: Chris Ings 3 6-13 13, Dymir Montague 4 9-12 20, Noah Warren 8 2-2 23, Ja’Cor Smith 0 1-4 1, Marcus Littles 2 3-4 7, TaQuon Woodley 1 1-2 3, Ahmad Fair 1 0-0 3. Totals: 19 22-37 70.
A: Eric Dixon 10 4-11 26, Robbie Heath 4 4-4 12, Darious Brown 0 3-4 3, Brandon Coffman 0 1-2 1, Lucas Monroe 6 3-6 16, JP Nolan 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Xavier Crawford, Maurice Henry, Bryan Coffman. Totals: 21 15-27 60.
3-pointers: NG – Warren 5, Montague 3, Ings, Fair; A – Dixon 2, Monroe.

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