Abington stays hot, rolls past Kennett in District 1-6A opener

ABINGTON >> With the way the Abington girls’ basketball team closed the regular season, not earning a first-round bye in districts wasn’t the worst thing.
After all, the Galloping Ghosts figured something out down the stretch, when they won 11 of 12 games to catapult up to the No. 9 seed in the 6A bracket. Their opponent on Saturday night, No. 24 Kennett, had achieved plenty just by qualifying for the postseason.
The Ghosts were heavy favorites and it took all of five minutes to see why. Whether it was Abington’s size, strength, athleticism or speed, the Ghosts were just too much for the Blue Demons to handle in a 66-23 Abington win.
“When we play with energy, we’re a pretty good team,” Abington coach Dan Marsh said. “When we don’t, we’re not. It’s pretty simple. We had great energy tonight, we don’t care who our opponent is; we want to play the same speed and the same way.”
Nine Abington (18-5) players scored, three of them in double figures. Senior Lizzie O’Leary, a Delaware recruit, led the way with 16 points, adding 12 rebounds, two assists and four steals. O’Leary made her first five shots from the field and along with sophomore Kassondra Brown, owned the glass.
Sam Brusha scored 13 for the Ghosts while Brown added 10 points and six rebounds. Abington set the tone with its defense, forcing 18 Kennett turnovers in the first half, many of them steals on an inbound pass following a Ghost basket.
Kennett (11-12) wasn’t expecting to be in the postseason, but thanks to some good leadership from its three seniors, the Blue Demons exceeded expectations.
“It was a reward for having a better season than we thought we were going to have,” Kennett coach Vince Cattano said. “We didn’t think we were going to have more than five wins, we ended up going 11-11 (in the regular season), so we overachieved.”
As Cattano was saying that, one of his players exited the classroom they were using and gave an emphatic “Heck yeah we did.” It was that kind of upbeat attitude that defined Kennett’s season.
Cattano said Abington was by far the best team the Blue Demons had played all season and that if the teams played 100 times, it would take a lot just to finishing within 20 of the Ghosts. While the final score was lopsided, Kennett wasn’t leaving in tears or torn up about it.
The Demons were happy they got in and got to spend an extra week in the gym together.
“Our three seniors may not score a lot of points, but every practice was a good, hard practice,” Cattano said. “It was a good group. When we saw we got in, we saw it as another week together. You prepare like you want to win but it was obvious in the first five minutes that this game was going to be theirs.”
Abington looks like a team built to play methodical with O’Leary and Brown both standing 6-foot-2 and two good shooters in starting guard Britney James and Brusha. But that style wasn’t working early in the season and when the Ghosts decided to kick the tempo up a notch, they got on a roll.
One of the big changes that happened right around the start of the run was a starting lineup swap. Marsh moved junior guard Jordyn Allen to the bench as the team’s sixth woman and put sophomore Cam Lexow into the starting group.
Lexow, a sophomore who has given a verbal commitment to play soccer at Virginia, is a superb athlete who causes mayhem on the defensive end.
“Having her in there is a big boost, her energy is always at level 100,” O’Leary said. “She does not stop going. Having her up on the press has affected it a lot, it’s a lot more effective and she tips the ball, goes and gets the ball, grinds, she’s just a really hard worker.”
Lexow had six points on Saturday and three of her four rebounds were on the offensive end along with three steals.
“She’s defensively tremendous for us, she’s all over the place,” Marsh said. “She’s an energy kid. Jordyn is good coming off the bench too so it’s a nice little thing we’ve got going on there.”
Brown and O’Leary are strong, so they can rip the ball away from opposing players in the paint and then with the speed out of the guard spots, make an easy outlet pass to start a break.
Kennett trailed just 8-5 with 4:54 left in the first period, then Abington’s relentless defense took over and the Ghosts scored the next 20 points for a 28-5 lead after just one quarter. It was more of the same in the second quarter with Abington going up 45-9 at the half and quickly putting the game into running clock mode in the third quarter.
“Having such fast guard really helps us,” O’Leary said. “If Kassondra or I get a rebound, we can outlet it real quick and they find each other up the floor. Of, I bring the ball up the floor, I’m always looking for somebody cutting or streaking to the rim. That works to our advantage.”
Allen adds a nice scoring touch to the bench while Tamia Wessels and Miranda Liebtag are solid all-around players.
Abington earned a second-round meeting with No. 8 Souderton on the Indians home floor next Wednesday. Marsh called the contest a clash of styles with the Indians playing more set and deliberate compared to the Ghosts go-go-go mentality.
“Once we figured out that our kids play better in space and we want to play fast, it can cause teams problems with the way that we play,” Marsh said. “We stuck with it and we’ve been successful.”
Abington 66, Kennett 23
KENNETT 5 4 2 12 – 23
ABINGTON 28 17 11 10 – 66
Kennett (23): Andrea Prestianne 3 1-1 8, Caroline Hertz 3 0-0 7, Madeline Fowler 2 0-0 4, Victoria Galliran 1 0-0 2, Madelyn Colin-Day 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Houck, Hussey, Chaffin, Mastronardo, Lusvardi, Austine. Totals: 10 1-1 23
Abington (66): Britney James 2 2-2 7, Cam Lexow 3 0-0 6, Lizzie O’Leary 7 2-3 16, Kassondra Brown 5 0-1 10, Sam Brusha 5 1-1 13, Jordyn Allen 1 0-0 2, Tamia Wessels 2 1-3 6, Miranda Liebtag 2 0-0 5, Morgan Benson 0 1-2 1. Nonscoring: Michaela Coyle, Becca Pohle. Totals: 27 7-12 66
3-pointers: K – Prestianne, Hertz; A- Brusha 2, James, Wessels, Liebtag

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply