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Abington ratchets up the defense in District 1-AAAA playback win over CB West

DOYLESTOWN >> The Abington girls basketball team was a mere witness to Central Bucks West’s red-hot shooting for the first seven minutes of their District 1-AAAA 9th/10th place playback contest Saturday. That’s when Ghost head coach Dan Marsh called a timeout to give his team some perspective.

“We know how to play defense,” Marsh said after the game. “Sometimes this team comes out a little lackadaisical, a little slow and it takes them a little bit to get them going. Sometimes you gotta light a match. I had to light a match on ‘em and it worked, fortunately.”

After giving up 24 first-quarter points, Abington limited CB West to 23 for the final three quarters in a 55-47 win to advance to the next round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs.

Lizzie O’Leary was the catalyst for Abington all night. The junior scored 19 points in the game to go along with 11 rebounds.

“We wanted to go inside. That’s been our bread and butter all year,” Marsh said. “We wanted to get (Samantha) Lochner off of ball screens to get to the rim and then if we couldn’t do that (we wanted) to get Lizzie posting up inside.”

“I think I was just able to identify my size advantage inside and work it,” O’Leary added.

O’Leary scored her points on just four made shots. The Delaware commit made her money at the line, going 11-for-11 from the charity stripe.

Lochner scored 13 points thanks in part to a pair of threes. The point guard did go just 3-for-7 from the line, which was a product of her effort on the defensive end.

“Lochner gave it her all. She was dead tired,” Marsh said. “She never misses free throws. You know she’s tired when she’s missing free throws down the stretch. Fortunately it didn’t matter.”

CB West came out on fire in the first quarter, scoring 10 of the game’s first 13 points. The Bucks hit four threes in the opening eight minutes en route to their 24 first-quarter points.

Makenzie Mason led the way, scoring eight of her 10 first-half points in the opening quarter. The senior finished with 11 points and eight rebounds in her last game as a Buck.

“(CB West is) always a tenacious team,” Marsh said. “When you add tenacity and them hitting shots they’re very difficult to beat. We knew, or we were hoping, that they would cool down. We needed to dig in defensively and give them less open looks. We were able to do that.”

In all West led by 10 after a quarter, 24-14. The Bucks scored just eight, nine and six points in the next three quarters, respectively.

“The second a third quarter we took a lot of, like, ‘one pass, chuck’ (shots),” West coach Terry Rakowsky said. “We allow our kids to shoot it in transition if it’s a great shot and we rebound it. Not just if it’s a good shot, or just a shot. I thought we were just taking shots the second and third quarter, which I thought hurt us.”

The second quarter proved to be all Abington, as the Ghosts started the quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 27-26 lead. O’Leary was huge not only scoring but rebounding for Abington as well, as she had 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half.

Thanks to the Abington run, and an 18-8 second-quarter victory, the two teams went into the halftime locker room tied at 32.

“Against Great Valley (in the district first round) we had a great third quarter and buried the game. Against Perk Valley (in the second round) they came out and buried us in the third quarter,” Marsh said “So I’m like ‘you guys got a choice. Do you want a Great Valley or do you want a Perk Valley?’

“The beginning of the third quarter is so important in games. You need to come out and re-establish what you’re doing and take control of the game and we did. I thought that was key.”

The Ghosts scored the first four points of the second half and won the third quarter 12-9. In all, they won the second half 23-15 to seal the win.

“We’re all really excited because we have six seniors on this team,” O’Leary said. “I didn’t want their season to end. They’re all my best friends, I just want to keep playing with them, and I don’t want to ever stop playing with them. Getting in as many games with them as possible is the main goal at this point.”

The next game will be Wednesday at Bishop Shanahan with the winner clinch a berth in the PIAA Tournament.

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