Abington, Heath too much for Plymouth Whitemarsh in SOL championship

FRANCONIA >> For the second time in the tournament’s three-year history, Abington is the Suburban One League Tournament champion.

The Galloping Ghosts defeated Plymouth Whitemarsh, 70-66, in Monday night’s final at Souderton Area High School.

Guard Robbie Heath led Abington with 30 points and forward Eric Dixon added 18.

The SOL National champs took over in the two middle quarters. They outscored PW, 40-21, during those 16 minutes to turn a six-point deficit after one quarter into a 13-point lead going into the fourth.

Heath did a majority of his damage in the second quarter. He scored 16 in the frame with some athletic layups, crafty runners, a three-pointer and perfect 5-for-5 free-throw shooting.

“I was just getting passed my defender and creating plays for myself and for my teammates,” Heath said. “When I saw the ball go in the hole I got more confidence. These are shooter’s rims — I played good here when I was a freshman. Coming into the game I knew the ball was going in the net for me.

“I didn’t believe they had anyone to guard me so I went passed them and made plays. By me doing that, that broke the game open. I think that’s how we won the game.”

Dixon woke up in the second half. After scoring just two points in the first half, he dropped 10 in the third and six in the fourth.

The SOL American champion Colonials battled back in the fourth. Guard Jason Paul hit three three-pointers down the stretch and Devon Lawrence scored five to help get their deficit down to four points, but they couldn’t get any closer.

Abington went 9-for-15 from the charity stripe in the fourth — which was good enough to maintain a two-point possession and claim the SOL Tournament title.

“It was a really good game to play,” PW coach Jim Donofrio said. “This particular year — especially with losing Ahmin (Williams). We’re young with Ahmin Williams on the floor … I thought we did a great job keeping Dixon — knowing where he was — and doing certain schemes we wanted to do.

“But our guards had a rule with their guards and we became a little overzealous, a little undisciplined, and let them get by too much even though we knew each one’s tendencies. That’s being young. We’re a really good, up-tempo, 90-foot trapping team. This is not our best straight up man-to-man no-trapping team. You would think that’s crazy with 20 wins and the pace they play at, but they aren’t the best ‘let’s just lock it down’ team. Yet. That’s why this film is invaluable.”

The last time Abington won the league tournament title in 2015 it went on to win the District 1 Class-4A championship— coincidentally beating PW in the championship game.

The Ghosts are now in the 6A classification, but hope to have similar success.

“We just think it’s about momentum,” Abington coach Charles Grasty said. “We want to keep going. Keep it going. If we didn’t play in that — if we didn’t make it to the championship — then we’ve got a long week of practice. They like to play games. They’d rather play games than practice. I just tell the guys, ‘Listen, it’s going to be a long week of practice if we don’t get to the championship. If we get to the championship, we have a fun night on Monday night.’ I just think it’s about momentum and working on things. It’s much more intense than practice.”

Center Naheem McLeod led PW in scoring with 17 points. Ahmad Williams added 14 and Ish Horn totaled 10.

Both teams will have a bye in the District 1 Class-6A playoffs. PW is the No. 2 seed and Abington is No. 3. The two schools could meet again in the semifinals.

Top Photo: Abington’s Robbie Heath goes in for a layup against Plymouth Whitemarsh. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

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