PHILADELPHIA >> Jefferson University’s gym has not been kind to the Abington boys basketball team this month.
For the second time in less than a week, the Galloping Ghosts struggled to make their shots at Jefferson, this time from the perimeter. That, coupled with an Archbishop Carroll team focused on attacking the rim in the second half added up to a frustrating outcome for Abington.
Carroll’s guard play set the tone in leading the Patriots to a 70-56 win over Abington as part of the Pete and Jameer Nelson Classic on Friday.
“That’s something I think early in the game we didn’t do well, we settled for jumpers early,” Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. “We were kind of out of sorts early, then we were able to get some buckets in transition, get some easy hoops. At halftime, I said we have to stop settling, we need to attack them inside and make them defend us inside.”
Justin Anderson, AJ Hoggard and NyMire Little led the way for Carroll, with each guard posting double figures in scoring. Anderson led the Patriots with 17 points while Hoggard flirted with a triple-double posting 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists despite battling foul trouble most of the game.
When Hoggard wasn’t on the floor, Little was more than ready to pick up the slack. The guard scored 12 points and hit a couple of timely 3-point shots.
“He was probably the eighth, ninth man coming in and he’s just impressed every game,” Romanczuk said. “He’s gotten better and he’s only a sophomore more, so there’s a lot of room for improvement. When AJ was out, he was great.”
Abington forward Eric Dixon had another big game, scoring 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting. The 6-foot-7 junior also had nine rebounds but also went through some stretches where he wasn’t touching the ball consistently.
For the Ghosts, the problem was on the perimeter offensively, where they shot just 3-of-22 from 3-point range. Most of the looks were open shots and a number of them went in-and-out but if a team isn’t making its outside shots, it’s also much easier to guard.
“We’re not overly concerned about that, we just have to get our effort up,” Abington coach Charles Grasty said. “Our intensity, our defensive effort, we’re not really getting the stops that we need. We’ll work on it.”
Outside the trio of Dixon, Lucas Monroe and Robbie Heath, the Ghosts are still working in a lot of new faces to the varsity rotation. Grasty as usual put a lot of tough tests in the December portion of the schedule, so some bumps in the road aren’t unexpected.
The idea is for Abington to face high caliber competition like Carroll and Neumann-Goretti, who topped the Ghosts last Saturday at Jefferson, so that it pays off later in the season when the playoffs roll around. As the defending District 1-6A champions and with that established trio, the Ghosts still have plenty going in their favor.
Teams tend to improve defensively over the course of the season and Abington has guys who want to play defense, they have to make it more consistent.
“We didn’t do a good job of keeping our man in front of us tonight,” Grasty said. “I thought we gambled a little more than usual. That’s also a credit to (Carroll), they’re pretty good. We have to learn how to keep our men in front of us defensively and close out and guard people.”
Carroll’s Keyon Butler was a huge beneficiary of the team’s renewed second half attacking efforts. The forward posted 14 of his 16 points after halftime, showing a lot of energy as he attacked the rim himself or got in good position to either catch and finish a pass or clean up a miss.
Despite Dixon’s scoring efforts, Romanczuk felt forward Devon Ferraro did a good job battling the Ghosts forward and overall, felt his team picked up a very good win heading into Catholic League play. The Patriots (5-3) missed out on a Palestra trip last season but feel with the balance they have between guards and forwards, it’s something they can do this winter.
“That’s the kind of team we are and the type of team we can be, especially with AJ out there drawing the type of attention he does,” Romanczuk said. “Quite honestly, I didn’t think we shot the ball well from the perimeter but we did a good job of scoring inside and just sharing the basketball. I think that’s the kind of team we have to be. We have five guys out there who can play basketball and score.”
Abington hops back into SOL National play this coming week and welcomes undefeated Neshaminy on Tuesday. Led by standout senior guard Chris Arcidacono, Neshaminy is playing with a lot of confidence and Grasty is looking forward to the challenge and having his team play just its third home game of the season.
“They’re playing well and the good thing is we get them at home,” Grasty said. “It’ll be fun. We’re hoping to get back on track.
“We’re 4-2 after six, it’s not the worst place to be. We’ll come back to practice and work hard, these guys always do.”
ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 70, ABINGTON 56
ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 14 15 19 22 – 70
ABINGTON 16 12 15 13 – 56
Archbishop Carroll: AJ Hoggard 7 0-0 14, Keyon Butler 5 6-6 16, Devon Ferraro 1 0-0 3, Justin Anderson 7 3-3 17, Luke House 2 2-2 6, NyMire Little 4 2-3 12, Tairi Ketner 1 0-0 2. Totals: 27 13-14 70.
Abington: Robbie Heath 4 2-4 11, Lucas Monroe 5 7-10 17, Eric Dixon 10 2-4 23, Xavier Crawford 1 0-0 2, Hasan Whiby 1 0-0 3. Totals: 22 11-18 56.
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