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Heath fuels Abington past St. Joseph’s Prep, into PIAA-6A quarters

Abington's Robbie Heath attempts a free throw during the Galloping Ghosts' PIAA-6A second round game agaisnt St. Joseph's Prep on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Heath finished with 27 points. (Alex Wahl/For Digital First Media)

PHILADELPHIA >> With a dominant performance from Robbie Heath, the Abington High School boys basketball squad defeated St. Joseph’s Prep 66-61 at Archbishop Ryan in the second round of the PIAA 6A playoffs.

Heath, who’s having an explosive state championship tournament, scored a game-high 27 points in the victory.

“I don’t want to lose in the state playoffs,” said Heath. “I have to step up my game in order to advance and I did that tonight.

“This is my first time getting past the first round of states. I don’t want to leave the team with a legacy of getting eliminated in first round every year.”

Another Ghost, Eric Dixon, also had a huge game with 16 points. The NCAA Division One prospect was excited for his team moving on to the quarterfinals.

“The obvious goal is to win the state championship,” said Dixon. “This is my first time in the quarterfinals and we have been really good the last few years winning districts but we never made it this far until now.”

Abington’s Lucas Monroe goes down the court Wednesday night against St. Joseph’s Prep in their PIAA-6A second round game on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (Alex Wahl/For Digital First Media)

Other Abington Ghosts to contribute in scoring were Darious Brown with 12 points, Lucas Monroe with six points, John Paul Nolan with three points, and Brandon Coffman with two points.

Leading the way for St. Joseph’s Prep was Darius Kinnel with 26 points. Other players that contributed in scoring include Trevor Wall with 11 points, Ed Croswell with seven points, Kyle Thompson with six points, Gabe Arizin with six points, and Chris Arizin with five points.

Abington head coach Charles Grasty was excited for his team advancing to the PIAA Elite Eight.

“I thought we kept our composure at the right time,” said Grasty. “St. Joes Prep is a heck of a team. The made some runs, some incredible shots, but what I thought we did well was stay within ourselves.”

“We play a team game,” added Grasty. “Those kids got hot. Robbie did a good job with our spacing, was able to get to the basket, and once we got Robbie out in space, he’s pretty dangerous.”

Both teams were off and running early in the first quarter switching leads almost every minute, but Abington was able to hold a 21-14 lead after the first quarter.

Abington’s Eric Dixon looks to fend off a St. Joseph’s Prep defender during their PIAA-6A second round game on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (Alex Wahl/For Digital First Media)

After being down by seven, St. Joseph’s Prep exploded with a 10-3 run to tie the game at 24-24 with less than four minutes left in the second quarter.

St. Joseph’s Prep did win the second quarter 16-13, but Abington had a 34-30 lead at halftime.

Both teams continued to keep the game close in the third quarter, but Abington still had the lead heading into the fourth quarter.

With less than a minute to go, St. Joseph’s Prep decided to bring in the second team.

The District One Champion Ghosts of Abington High School will now play Hazleton Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Abington 66, St. Joseph’s Prep 61
St. Joseph’s Prep 14 16 13 18 -61
Abington 21 13 17 15 -66
St. Joseph’s Prep: Kinnel 26; Wall 11; Croswell 7; Thompson 6; G. Arizin 6; C. Arizin 5.
Abington: Heath 27; Dixon 16; Brown 12; Monroe 6; Nolan 3; Coffman 2.

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