Munger, CB West close out Abington to claim District 1-AAAA title

PHILADELPHIA — The way Abington closed out the third quarter, the Galloping Ghosts looked like they were ready to make their push.

Then the fourth quarter started and it fell apart in a hurry. CB West let Nicole Munger play closer on offense, and the Ghosts simply couldn’t do anything on offense.

CB West topped Abington 59-46 to win the District I Class AAAA girls’ title game at the Liacouras Center. Abington, who trailed 48-42 after three, scored just four points in the fourth quarter while Munger keyed an 11-4 run to close out the game.

“I think we really just tried to settle down and play West basketball,’ Munger said. “We tried to get into it on the defensive end, get our steals which turns into our offense and I think we did that. We got the boards in the fourth quarter and I think that translated into our offense.’

Munger scored 19 points in the win, seven coming in the final frame while pulling down six of her seven rebounds in the final quarter. Forward Corrinne Godshall played a capable second option with 12 points while Mackenzie Carroll and Peyton Traina each scored seven.

Abington was led by center Liz O’Leary’s 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Senior Gabbie Nolan had 10 points and two steals, Deja Rawls scored nine and Leah Simmons finished with eight points and 12 rebounds, 10 of them offensive.

“We started well and we had a pretty good third quarter, but that’s what they do,’ Abington coach Dan Marsh said. “They make runs. They’re good. We had to keep them off the offensive boards and we didn’t, they made some big 3s and (Munger) was great.’

Abington jumped out to a quick five-point lead but the Bucks came back on an 11-0 run punctuated by a steal and coast-to-coast lay-up by Maggie Rakowsky. CB West hurt Abington with a few key offensive rebounds in the first quarter, Peyton Traina grabbing a missed 3-pointer for an easy put-back and Makenzie Mason recovering her own missed foul shot for a lay-up.

Mason’s self-save gave the Bucks a 17-12 lead going into the second quarter. CB West’s offensive glass attack put it up 22-14 when Corrine Godshall was able to pull down her own miss for a second chance hoop.

The long ball helped the Bucks open up the lead in the heart of the second frame. Munger, Traina and Mackenzie Carroll each connected from distance as the Bucks took a 30-18 lead with 4:15 left in the half. The Ghosts started doing a better job on the glass defensively, but things still just weren’t in their favor.

“The game was about different runs from both teams,’ West senior Mackenzie Carroll said. “We just happened to have that last run.’

Liz O’Leary got a palm on a pass, deflecting it right to Traina in the right corner where the senior rose and hit her 3-pointer.

Abigail Spratt put CB West ahead 34-22 when she ripped the ball away from Deja Rawls after a rebound and scored, technically not an offensive board put-back, but close enough. Yet, the Ghosts did recover well to end the half.

Gabbie Nolan swooped in for an offensive board put-back after a missed foul shot, and after a pair of made freebies by Godshall, Rawls hit two at the line and Nolan stepped in front of pass, spliting two at the stripe after the chasing defender collided with the Ghost senior.

Munger came out with a purpose to start the third, stealing the ball on Abington’s baseline and weaving her way through the defense for a lay-in. The Michigan-bound senior followed that with another hoop in the lane as the Bucks went up 40-27.

Nolan had another steal she turned into a full-court layup, Rawls converted a traditional three-point play and Nolan rebounded a Munger missed 3 and took it down for a score. After Munger scored to put the Bucks up 46-35 with 1:58 left, O’Leary hit a 3-pointer then scored inside on a pass from Simmons. Simmons scored on a put-back with 26.7 left in the frame and suddenly, CB West’s lead was 46-42.

Carroll wasn’t shaken however, driving into the lane and converting a lay-up with 12.6 seconds left that calmed the Bucks.

“I just saw the lane and I took it,’ Carroll said. “It was open. Going through my head, I wasn’t thinking oh we really need this, it was there so I took it and it helped out.’

“That was a turning point,’ Bucks coach Terry Rakowsky said. “It went from four to six, so it’s totally different. It also changes how we play in the fourth quarter against these guys.’

CB West built off that momentum on the first play of the final quarter. Godshall whipped a pass to Munger standing in the left corner. Munger drilled the 3-pointer, making the lead nine, and setting off a 9-0 run to open the frame.

“It’s one of our plays, it’s a read off of what the defense does,’ Munger said. “The defense showed the read. I was just happy to hit the shot, she made a great pass.’

Munger scored another hoop on the next possession, Godshall hit Mason then Munger hit two at the line to cap the 9-0 spurt. Abington meanwhile, couldn’t get anything going, a mixture of CB West’s defending and missing open shots as the Ghosts went 0-of-8 to open the fourth.

Abington shot just 2-of-16 from 3-point range

“We felt like that happened in the (SOL title) game too,’ Marsh said. “That’s part of basketball, you’re not going to make every shot and we’re trying to focus on them to dig in and get a stop and finish with a rebound. CB West does a really good job of what we want to do offensively and we didn’t adapt very well.’

Abington’s first points of the fourth came with 2:58 left when Nolan hit Simmons for a hoop. Godshall scored a last bucket for the Bucks to give them a 59-44 lead before a pair of O’Leary freebies set the final margin.

“Fourth quarter we had a lot more composure,’ Carroll said. “We were up by enough that we didn’t need to force anything. We could hold it and only go for layups and we just wanted to be composed and take care of the basketball.’

The Ghosts will now regroup while they prepare for the state tournament. While CB West is a team that gives the Ghosts problems, Marsh welcomed a third shot at the Bucks, saying the team would have to come up with a new plan if they did meet at the Giant Center.

“We keep thinking, and we might be stupid, but we keep thinking we can beat them,’ Marsh said. “Maybe we’ll find out in Hershey, who knows. We’re going to relax and get back to work on Monday.’

CB West will celebrate its historic first district title and Munger said its an accomplishment the Bucks can savor for a few days. But the Bucks have the goal of a state title and they’d like to make a little more history before their season concludes.

“It means a lot, but coach says we stand a lot taller and we can see a lot farther when we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us,’ Munger said. “Props to everyone who came before us who put in all the hard work because this is for them and us as well.’

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