Pennsbury Boys Basketball toppled by Abington

Pennsbury senior Mark Flagg, right, works the baseline guarded by Abington senior Eric Dougherty in boys basketball battle between the schools Jan. 17 on the Falcons’ home court. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

FALLS TWP. – For the second time this season, Pennsbury dropped a boys basketball duel with Suburban One National League leader Abington. The last time the sides squared off in Montgomery County, the Falcons fell by a 6-point margin. This time on their home court, Pennsbury fell by twice that margin.

Ahead 21-19 at the intermission, the Falcons could do little when the visiting Ghosts pulled away in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter when Abington outscored the home team 21-10.

“We have to play a full 32-minute game,” said Pennsbury senior Billy Warren. “Anything less than that, we’re not going to win against a team of that caliper.”

After a quiet first half in which he scored only a single basket, junior shooting guard Robbie Heath exploded for three buckets in the third quarter and added 4-of-5 foul shots.

Still trailing 35-34 heading into the final frame, the Falcons were within reach. It wasn’t until the Falcons went to a full-court press defense that the Ghosts were able to pull away.

“Once we got down, we had to start pressing and we’re more than capable of playing the press,” explained Warren. “That’s the kind of team Pennsbury is; they like to get up and pressure teams,” said Warren. “But Abington is a really good team, they have pretty good point guards – Lucas (Monroe) and Robbie (Heath) – they really know how to break the press.”

“They’re young but there are experienced so you got to give them that. They handled the press well, they beat us down and you have to give them credit.”

However, the Ghosts tipped off the fourth quarter with a 5-0 run on an open layup and a free throw by Heath coupled with a big dunk by Dixon off a Pennsbury turnover.

The Falcons countered with a steal of their own however and 6-7 forward Mark Flagg layed a ball in to draw Pennsbury within four at 40-34.

Less than a minute later, the game got away from the Falcons.

“I feel like we played well the first half, fell of a little bit in the third (period) and by the fourth, it really just seemed like we fell off completely.

“If we had to do it again, you know it’s going to be a battle. That’s not the kind of a team that you’re going to blow out.”

Starting off the fourth quarter was Dixon, who fed 6-8 center Joe O’Brien with for an open dunk. Heath hit a jumper then added a pair of free throws and just like that, Pennsbury trailed 46-37 with only 3:30 remaining.

Falcon coach Bill Coleman called a timeout in order to stop some of the bleeding but it was to no avail. Even a full-court press defense couldn’t save Pennsbury. A pair of free throws by Warren cut the difference to seven but a bucket by O’Brien and a dunk by Dixon put Abington on top 50-39 with 2:41 remaining.

The victor decided, the only thing left in question was the final score.

“We played according to our game plan for the most part in the first half, defended very well in the half-court (defense),” stated Coleman. “The second half was a tale of missed opportunities. – missed free throws, some rushed shots.”

For the game, Warren was the leading scorer for the Falcons with 16 points, 14 of which he tallied in the first three frames. Flagg was pretty consistent offensively throughout the game with 13 points, though he shot just 1-for-7 from the foul line. And while senior Addison Howard added 10, Pennsbury got very little scoring off the bench. Vaughn Ward (3 pts.) and Joey Monaghan (2) were the only others to reach the scoring column for the Orange & Black.

Heath led Abington’s cause with 19 points, 17 of which he scored after the break including a 7-for-9 shooting performance from the foul line.

“He played well,” said Coleman. “He put them on his shoulders and got them their lead in the second half.

“For some reason, our guys weren’t able to respond tonight. Hopefully we learn from it and move on.

Dixon also had a big night with 16 points, 14 of which he scored in the first three quarters.  With just four points at the break, O’Brien exploded for four field goals in the final frame, most of which he scored on open layups and dunks when the Ghosts were able to beat the press.

NOTES: This makes three straight Abington wins over Pennsbury. The last time the Falcons topped the Ghosts was Dec. 11, 2015 in a 42-36 triumph at home. Before that, Abington toppled Pennsbury in eight straight contests including four times during the 2014-15 season – the final campaign for Cameron Jones, Derrick Woods and Mekhi Bryant.

Abington 56, Pennsbury 44

(Jan. 17 at Pennsbury)

Abington             11 8 16 21 – 56

Pennsbury          9 12 13 10 – 44

ABINGTON (13-3) — Robbie Heath 6 7-9 19, Eric Dixon 7 1-2 16, Joe O’Brien 6 0-0 12, Lucas Monroe 0 3-4 3, Robert Young 1 0-0 2, Eric Dougherty 0 2-2 2, Bobby Scholly 1 0-0 2; TOTALS — 21 13-17 56.

PENNSBURY (9-5) — Billy Warren 6 3-4 16, Mark Flagg 6 1-7 13, Addison Howard 4 0-0 10, Vaughn Ward 1 0-0 3, Joey Monaghan 1 0-0 2; TOTALS — 18 4-11 44.

3-POINT GOALS: P — Howard 2, Warren, Ward; A — Dixon.

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