The old UPS slogan once asked “What can Brown do for you?”
For the Abington boys’ basketball team, Brown does a great deal. Brown would be senior guard Darius Brown, a three-year varsity player, team captain and 3-point marksman that’s been an integral part of the Galloping Ghosts’ special season.
With the postseason on the doorstep, the Ghosts will need Brown to do more for them over the next few weeks if they want to reach all the goals they’ve set for themselves.
“My mom’s really helped me become a better player,” Brown said after a 13-point outing in the SOL semifinals against Pennsbury. “She loves to give me a little pep talk before every game, just to remind me to play hard.”
Brown and Abington take on Pennridge at 7:30 p.m. Monday night for the SOL title at Bensalem.
Seniors Eric Dixon and Lucas Monroe garner a lot of headlines and a lot of attention for the 22-1 Ghosts, which makes sense given they’re heading to Villanova and Penn respectively. They also attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses, so Abington relies on the guys around them, guys like Brown, Maurice Henry and Manir Waller, to make things happen.
For Brown, that means getting himself open and being an outlet ready to shoot whenever Monroe gets into the lane or Dixon draws two, three, sometimes four defenders in the post. The 5-foot-10 guard got off to a slow start from downtown this season, but he’s rounded into form at just the right time.
In Saturday’s win over Pennsbury, Brown went 3-of-4 from behind the line, driving his total to 31 makes from 3-point range on the season. It’s not a huge number, but closer analysis reveals that Brown has hit 24 of those bombs in his last 10 games, a very prolific mark.
“I learned to fade to the corner a little more and find my spot between the corner and the arc, which has helped me get my points,” Brown said. “It’s all exercise at the gym, I’m there pretty much every night even after practice putting up shots. It’s all focus on the form. It carries over to the way I warm up and it’s been getting me right.”
He’s not just a stand-around shooter either. Brown is a feisty defender, a secondary ballhandler and has plenty of invaluable minutes from the playoff runs of the last two years to draw from.
The guard’s play has also drawn him some college attention and Brown said the first time he spoke with a college coach really pushed him to put in extra time and effort into expanding his game. He’s a leader, as the captain title implies, and is well-rounded off the court too.
“Once he started making some shots, his confidence went through the roof and he’s a big part of why we’re playing the way we’re playing right now,” Abington coach Charles Grasty said. “He gets us going in practice and in games. We made some calls to colleges, he’s a really intelligent kid, he’s in honors classes and someone will be very fortunate to have him next year.”
Brown said he’s been in contact with Mansfield, USciences, Arcadia, Rutgers-Camden and Washington-Jefferson.
The senior played off the bench as a sophomore behind Rob Young, then moved into the starting lineup last year. Abington’s produced a lot outstanding players over the past half-decade, but also just as many guys like Brown who fill certain roles and take a lot of pride in wearing the maroon and white.
“It’s very fun, I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” Brown said. “We go back and forth with the girls (basketball team), we have a little competition between us. I don’t focus on scoring, I want to play my part, do my thing and help the team win; that’s always my main goal.”
Few people are happier to see Brown hit shots than Dixon, who feels the same way about all his teammates.
“All I’ve seen out of him is what I see in practice,” Dixon said. “He comes in every day and works hard. Other people are surprised but for the guys on the team, we expect that from him.”
It’s not just Brown either.
Waller and Henry have been mainstays in the starting lineup while Derek Sussman and Jack Moynihan have made some clutch shots off the bench and handed out a good share of assists.
Waller, a 6-foot-3 junior in his first season as a varsity rotation player, has developed into a solid scoring option for Abington. His defense is also a spark for Abington, with Waller creating three steals early in the third quarter of Thursday’s win over Cheltenham to seal the SOL American title.
Henry’s come up with timely shots all year, including a dagger three that helped lock up the Ghosts’ first win over Plymouth Whitemarsh and another trey on Thursday against Cheltenham.
“Maurice has been hitting big shots all year, he takes and he makes big shots,” Monroe said after the Cheltenham game. “Manir Waller has been playing out of his mind. When he stops worrying about scoring and just plays his game, he’s been great. When those guys are playing like that, I think we’re pretty unstoppable.
“We’re 14 or 15 deep. It’s not just me and Eric.”
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