SPRINGFIELD >> If Alexa Abbonizio was auditioning for more playing time, she hit all the right notes Saturday afternoon.
The Springfield freshman is a big part of coach Ky McNichol’s plans, now and in the future.
Abbonizio showed off her tremendous potential in a 66-37 Central League victory over Marple Newtown, shooting 5-for-8 from 3-point range and scoring 14 of her game-high 19 points in the second quarter.
Oh, and she did all of that damage off the bench.
Abbonizio has a chance to make a name for herself on a junior- and sophomore-laden team that is the defending District 1 Class 5A champion, a Central League contender and one of the best programs in Delaware County.
“It’s been very good for me. They have all be very welcoming to me,” Abbonizio said. “The team has been great and they are all very understanding. I was a little nervous at first.”
Abbonizio, who is a member of the Comets Girls Basketball Club, one of the premier travel organization in state, gave the Cougars (3-0, 2-0 Central) a boost in the second quarter when she drained four 3-pointers and shot 5-for-5 from the floor.
“We were excited to have her join us at Springfield, absolutely. We know how much talent she has,” McNichol said. “She’s going to make a difference on our team this year and in the next four years. Her biggest attribute is her shot. When we can get her going and her teammates can find her, that can really turn a game around for us.”
Early in the season, McNichol and her coaching staff have been allowing their underclassmen to gain valuable varsity minutes. Abbonizio, fellow freshman Rachel Conran and sophomores Amanda Biehl, Carli Johnson, Megan Cull and Jordan Postiglione made contributions Saturday. Postiglione earned the start alongside junior stalwarts Jordan D’Ambrosio and Belle Mastropietro, sophomore guard Alyssa Long and first-year starting forward and senior Amelia Brooks.
“We don’t have a set starting lineup right now and we’re rotating from game to game,” McNichol said. “We play the size match-ups … and we’re definitely trying to get everybody involved. We tell everybody that you should expect to step on the floor every night, to play with confidence, share the ball and play team basketball.”
The performances of Abbonizio and Postiglione popped out most against the Tigers. They are exactly the type of basketball player McNichol has been grooming over the last four years at Springfield. Postiglione added eight points — including a pair of 3-pointers — to go with three assists, two steals and three rebounds.
The Cougars are finding out that they don’t have to rely on their go-to veterans, D’Ambrozio and Mastropietro, to score points. They have several players who can shoot from anywhere on the floor.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) December 16, 2017
“We have a lot of confidence in all of our kids,” McNichol said. “We can count on anybody to step up and make a shot at any point in the game. We have kids who are … doing things that we didn’t expect and are really playing a big role at the start of the season.”
That’s a good thing for someone like Mastropietro, who scored nine points on 2 of 9 shooting. Of course, Mastropietro made an impact with her defense (four steals) and use her floor vision (five assists) to get others involved.
“We weren’t worried but we knew that losing Maggie (O’Connell), who was our best shooter last year, we needed someone to step up,” Mastropietro said. “Having someone like Alexa come in to sort of fill her shoes … she’s doing great.”
Springfield was in a fight with Marple Newtown (1-1, 1-1) in the early stages. The Cougars shot 3 of 15 from the field in the opening quarter and were tied 9-9 to begin the second period. They rattled off five 3-pointers in the second quarter and used a 19-6 run to take a commanding 11-point lead into halftime.
Springfield shot 11 of 27 from beyond the arc and committed only five turnovers. A staunch defensive effort in the second half enabled the Cougars to seal their third consecutive win.
D’Ambrosio had 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal for the Cougars.
“From the second quarter to the fourth quarter, they might have shot 70 percent from 3,” Marple Newtown coach Ryan Wolski said. “We made them use some timeouts and we made them play hard.”
Devon Adams, a senior center, led the Tigers with 12 points and six rebounds. Halle Robinson added 10 points and point guard Shannon McCarthy finished with seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
“The girls fought hard today,” Wolski said. “Springfield … they have four or five kids who can get a rebound and go at any time. They have three or four guards spotting up all over the place who can hit a big shot. That’s hard to beat. Ky really does a great job. They have great players and a great staff.”