O’Leary leads Abington past Pennridge in SOL Challenge

DOYLESTOWN >> Going into Saturday’s SOL Challenge, Abington put a high priority on speed, aiming to push the ball up court and implement a faster game.

Transition baskets and breaks to the hoop were the result. The Ghosts also had a pretty inviting target underneath in 6-foot-2 Liz O’Leary, whose 21 points helped lead the way to a 76-50 victory over Pennridge.

“It was definitely good for me to get out there, get those shots up and practice against all of the pressure that teams are gonna give me so I can handle that the proper way,” O’Leary said after the non-conference contest at Central Bucks West High School.

“I think we’re coming back,” O’Leary said. “We had a couple rough weeks in December and I think we’re coming back now and we’re playing our game. I think it’s really gonna help us as we go through the season.”

Abington ran to a 44-24 lead at the break then put the game out of reach in the third. Britney James, who hit a pair of threes in the first half, set up the Ghosts’ many weapons after the break, finding O’Leary underneath and moments later a wide open Tamia Wessels for a baseline jumper.

Early in the fourth, O’Leary put on a nifty spin move around the basket, scored and completed a three-point play to put this one firmly in the win column for the Ghosts (9-4, 4-2 SOL National).

“I think we have a good balance of our guards and our posts,” said O’Leary, whose team got 16 points from Sam Brusha, 11 from Kassandra Brown and 10 from Tamia Wessels. “I think we really mesh well together so we know who’s feeling it and who has the hot hand at the moment.”

Saturday also offered a different type of atmosphere.

“It’s fun to come and play at a neutral site because you don’t know what it’s gonna bring and what the other team is gonna bring so it’s a lot of fun,” said O’Leary.

The Ghosts gave the young Rams too much to deal with on this day, but Pennridge got nine points from Rose McCormick, including a pair of threes, and eight each from Brooke Bachtle and Maddie Stolarski, with Stolarski also hitting a pair from three-point range.

“They have size, they press, they trap, but the size is probably the thing that hurts us the most,” Pennridge coach Mike Elton said of the Ghosts. “I was glad that Abington continued to press us the entire game because it helps us to get better ourselves.

“It’s a young team so we’re working through it. I’m encouraged. The bottom line is the girls are doing what they have to do to get better.”

Pennridge (5-10, 1-5 SOL Continental) travels to Central Bucks South Tuesday night and Abington hosts Pennsbury that same evening.

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