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Brown scores 25, Abington pulls away from Wilson in PIAA-6A 1st round


READING >> The Abington girls basketball team had a little bit of trouble just getting up to Reading High School’s Geigle Complex for the Galloping Ghosts’ PIAA tournament opener.

“There was an accident on 422 so we got dressed on the bus and it was kind of rush,” Abington coach Dan Marsh said. “We didn’t even really get to talk to them before the game.”

Traffic on the way up, however, seemed to be the only thing that slowed Kassondra Brown Friday night as Wilson West Lawn could find few ways to contain the 6-foot-2 junior in their state Class 6A first-round contest.

“She’s the best big in the state in my opinion,” Marsh said. “So, there’s not many people that can stop her.”

With a variety of putbacks and drives and also connecting on a 3-pointer, Brown collected a game-high 25 points, eight coming in the fourth quarter as the Ghosts pulled away from the Bulldogs to earn a 59-44 victory.

“By third quarter it was close, we were scoring back-and-fourth. They made pretty big shots, we made shots too but going into the fourth quarter it just hit me, we lose this game we’re done,” Brown said. “So I didn’t want to lose.”

Sam Brusha finished with 10 points — eight in the first half — Miranda Liebstag had eight points while Camryn Lexow added six of her seven points in the fourth, which District 1 fifth-place Abington (21-7) capped with a 16-4 run — including the quarter’s final 10 points — after Wilson got within 43-40 after a drive by Zakiyah Winfield.

“They did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do. They made us a little uncomfortable and we adjusted,” Marsh said. “We were able to throw some defensive looks at them which I think helped increase the tempo cause they were taking air out of the ball and we have a tough time playing like that.”

The Ghosts advance to face District 11 champ Freedom, a 59-42 winner over District 1 No. 10 Perkiomen Valley, Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. Abington is in the second round for the second straight season and for the fourth time in the past five years.

“I think that’s saying something about our hard work, the kind of kids that we have that continue to work hard,” Marsh said. “It’s our (fifth)-straight 20-win season. The kids, the work hard and they want to get to this put and they want to continue to push and these kids have a goal and that’s what they want right now, is to try to get to Hershey.”

Britney James put the Ghosts up 45-40 by banking a shot in high off the glass while a Brown free throw at 5:46 made it a six-point game. A Winfield basket cut the margin to 46-42 but Brown responded with a 3-point play off a drive at 5:05.

“They had two very good defensive players on me, one she was shorter than me but she really played good defense and the taller one, you know, I was going to have trouble with that, I’m not really used to that in our league,” Brown said. “But I pretty much had an advantage if I had the very talented defensive player then I would stay in the post but if I had the tall girl on me I’d try to take her by the dribble.”

Winfield made it 49-44 but those were the Bulldogs’ last points. Brown put back her own miss then scored off a drive while a Lexow basket pushed the advantage to double digits for the first time at 55-44.

“I feel like it all comes from heart,” James said. “A lot of us on the team we don’t like losing, like we hate losing and somebody scores on us we’re going to score back, somebody takes the ball from us we want to take it back.”

Winfield paced Wilson with 20 points while Kaya Burkhart collected 12 points. The Bulldogs, District 3’s third-place side, were in PIAAs for the first time since 2014 — that state run also ended by Abington in the 4A second round.

Marsh said the backup on Route 422 happened around Oaks with the Ghosts finally getting to the Geigle Complex 20 minutes before the game’s scheduled start time of 6 p.m.

“At first, it was like the ETA was like 5:49 but then once we got through it, it cleared up. But yeah, I was a little nervous at first,” Marsh said. “My assistant coach asked me what if we’re late I was like I don’t know it’s never happened.”

The late arrival and Wilson’s deliberate half-court offense both contributed to Abington’s sluggish start. After the teams ended the first eight minutes tied 8-8, the Ghosts used their defense to get the pace more to their liking in the second quarter.

“In the beginning it was very frustrating because we like to run a fast game. We hate just waiting and having to let people get into their sets,” James said. “We like just going and going and going, pushing the ball. But then when we finally adjusted to who they were playing, I feel they started panicking a little bit.

In half’s final minute, Tamia Wessels’ 3-pointer had the Ghosts up 25-21 but Winfield beat the buzzer to put the Bulldogs down two at the break. Burkhart buried a 3 to open scoring in the third while a basket from Winfield gave Wilson a 28-25 edge.

A Liebstag 3 gave the Ghosts back the lead 30-28. After two Olivia Moyer free throws at 5:46 tied things at 30, Liebstag knocked down another triple and Abington never trailed from there. Brusha drove for two, extending the lead to 35-30.

“I think that’s were our tough schedule rolls in,” Marsh said. “We’ve been in these games all year where good teams make a run at you and we’re able to respond. So, that’s the benefit. We have six losses, whatever it is, seven losses, but they’re all to really good teams and when you’re in those type of battles it prepares you for this. And our team doesn’t panic and They expect teams to be able to score sometimes and I fully credit our tough schedule for that.”

Burkhart’s 3 had Wilson within 35-33 before Brown came up with a steal for a coast-to-coast layup. Winfield scored inside off an inbounds to make it 37-35 but Brown’s drive put the Ghosts back up four. A Burkhart free throw at 53.4 had Abington’s lead at 39-36 entering the fourth.



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