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Neshaminy girls basketball takes huge leap forward with win over Abington (GALLERY)

Neshaminy sophomore Kelli Kowalick (25) is fouled on way to basket in Lady Skins win over Abington Jan. 3 on Neshaminy's home court. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)

LANGHORNE – In a young season, every team looks for a defining moment, the one game that will prove their merit. For the Neshaminy girls basketball team, that tone-setter occurred in their 60-53 win over reigning District 1 champion Abington.

Going into the contest, the Lady Skins knew they were facing a perennial power. Abington not only won last year’s district title but made it to the second round of the state playoffs. The Ghosts lost but one senior to graduation and seemed a likely league forerunner once again. They still boasted two all-league players in 6’2” center Kassondra Brown and 5’10” shooting guard Sam Brusha.

Neshaminy’s sophomore point guard Kristin Curley sensed the formidable task awaiting the Skins.

“Before the game, our coaches told us that all the pressure was on them because they were reigning district champs and everyone is expecting them to be awesome and no one is expecting anything from us. So we went in with no pressure, just playing our game and doing what we needed to do.”

PHOTOS: Neshaminy 2017 Girls Basketball vs Abington

Neshaminy does boast its own brand of firepower in the presence of proven vets Brooke Mullin, Allison Harvey and Kristin Curley. In Kristin’s estimation, that granted the Skins a nucleus from which to build team unity.

“We’re a very young team but most of us have been playing basketball for a long time, which really helps because or team chemistry is really good. Being friends outside the gym makes us work harder in the gym.”

On the court, that chemistry translates into pure hustle. “Because we’re not the tallest team means we all work around the other team’s biggest girl. On the defensive end, we stress boxing out the most. Letting the other team get only one shot is foremost on our board. We really take that to heart.”

Against Abington, the Skins carried this strategy out perfectly. “Our main focus was the transition point. We would limit their transitions and we would want to run up and down. I thought we executed that pretty well.”

Boxing out their opponents and then utilizing perfect fast-break outlet passes, Neshaminy built a 19-16 first-quarter lead. Olivia Scotti sparked the surge, netting eight of her team’s points. Coach Joe Lally’s charges continued their up-tempo game and entered halftime with a 32-30 lead.

In the third quarter, the Ghosts’ Kassondra Brown flexed her muscle, scoring 10 of her team’s 13 points, “We knew we had to stop Kassondra Brown because she was so much bigger than anyone on the court. She was always an issue for us last year because she was so good.”

Despite Brown’s effort, Neshaminy’s inspired play saw them holding a 45-43 lead going into the fourth quarter. Key contributors down the stretch included Brooke Mullin, who netted 14 points, Allison Harvey with eight baskets and Olivia Scotti with 15 points.

Kristin continued to offer her stellar performance at point guard, firing off crisp passes, driving hard to the basket, and taking any outside shots when open. “I’m a point guard and my job is to essentially get other people involved so they can score. And take my shots when they’re there.

“I am (also) responsible for shutting down the other team’s point guard on the defensive end.”

Though sharing the team’s scoring lead with 15 points, Kristin credited the entire squad for the big win. “It was an incredible team win. Everyone contributed everything they needed and all the girls did everything the coaches asked of them.”

Neshaminy had certainly proved its merit with the 60-53 victory. “It was awesome after the game. It always fun beating Abington, especially on our home court. The coaches were so proud of us after the game. They said we did everything that they put on our practice boards. They said we hit every single one of their points.”

The convincing win could prove pivotal as the Skins look toward upcoming battles with Pennsbury, Council Rock North and Harry S Truman.

“After we saw what we could do last night, I think we will build upon that because we know how good we can potentially be. I think that will really spark something in everyone.”

An inspired Neshaminy squad should definitely be a force in the Suburban One League.

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