Abington continues growth with win over Bensalem

ABINGTON >> As the 2014-15 iteration of the Abington girls basketball team was called out to midcourt for recognition, at least half of them, last year’s seniors, weren’t in uniform.

The ceremony was meant to highlight a great season by last year’s team but it also showed the reality facing this year’s crop of Galloping Ghosts. There’s a lot of youth and inexperience on Abington’s bench and every game is a growing experience.

Tuesday, Abington got another lesson in what it takes to become a winning high school team in a 69-41 Suburban One League National Conference win over a Bensalem team that wouldn’t go away.

“We’re so young and we just don’t get it yet,” Abington coach Dan Marsh said. “They get up 12-0 or whatever and they think they can relax. This is high school basketball, these kids aren’t going to quit. Bensalem, they have a good coach who’s been around the block, he knows what he’s doing and his kids won’t quit. The kids have to understand they have to have the same effort from start to finish, and we’re getting there, it’s a process.”

Abington (4-3, 3-1 conference) rushed out to a 12-0 start then slowly and surely, the Owls (3-4, 1-3) started to fight back. Abington managed to take a 21-12 lead into the second quarter but then the Ghosts just bogged down on offense. Abington went 1:40 without a score before senior Sammy Lochner hit a 3-pointer, but that would stand as just one third of their output in the second.

Everything Abington does is based off it’s high-low inside game and that offense hasn’t materialized often enough or clean enough so far. The fault is equal on the guards and forwards as well, just another part of the growing process.

Case in point, the Ghosts opened the third quarter with a heavy onus on putting the ball in the lane and making the forwards do something with it.

“I told them that we’re doing nothing but going inside for the next five straight plays, I didn’t want anything but inside,” Marsh said. “I want our bigs to start establishing themselves. It’s not just the guards’ fault, the bigs aren’t fighting for position and they’re too easily pushed around by 5-foot-7 kids. I said we’re going inside no matter what, I don’t care if she’s open or not.”

Abington forward Lizzie O’Leary scored seven of her 18 in the third quarter. The approach seemed to spark something in Abington as O’Leary was joined by senior Leah Simmons (10) and freshman Kassondra Brown (10) in double-figure scoring.

Lochner ended up with 12 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals while O’Leary dragged down 10 rebounds for another double-double along with three blocks.

Abington scored the first seven points of the second half, a big play coming when Sam Brusha rebounded a missed free throw and put it back for a lay-up. Still, the Owls wouldn’t go away and cut it back to 42-31 despite the bulk of their scoring coming from just three players. O’Leary helped stem the tide with two scores inside to end the third, then she and Brown scored the next eight points to start the fourth.

The junior put the Ghosts up 54-31 on a nice sequence started when senior Toni Washington hit Lochner, who then fed it to O’Leary right under the net for an easy shot. Bensalem never got closer than 20 the rest of the way as Brown and sophomore Jordyn Allen, making her return to the lineup, helped keep it that way.
Abington tightened its rotation Tuesday, playing just seven players before Washington came in during the fourth and a host of subs closed it out.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Marsh said. “I didn’t care about the score tonight, I just wanted to play the right way and it took us probably to the third quarter before we started playing the right way.”

There’s not much time to rest for the Ghosts, as they’ll take part in Cardinal O’Hara’s holiday tournament, continuing their December/January gauntlet schedule. Still, Marsh has faith in the talent on his team, it just needs some more seasoning, kind of like the group that was honored at the half.

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