Brown powers through Plymouth Whitemarsh as Abington wins district title rematch

WHITEMARSH >> Kassondra Brown knew that if she wanted to, she could dominate Monday night.

Abington’s plan was set up for her to do it, either giving the ball right to the 6-foot-2 junior center or taking shots so that if they missed, Brown would be right there. Brown knew Plymouth Whitemarsh was going to be eager to avenge its loss to Abington in last season’s district title game and she didn’t want to let that happen.

After a 31-point, 20-rebound effort, Brown certainly dominated as the Ghosts topped the host Colonials 64-51.

“Everything but jump shots, I don’t know what was going on there,” Brown said. “Coming into the game we knew how much they wanted to beat us, so I did what I had to do to get us the win.”

Brown had a solid sophomore season but she’s taken things to a new level this year. After putting a lot of time into her game and drastically upping her conditioning and stamina, Brown has been downright unstoppable at times this season.

Abington’s Kassondra Brown battles Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Sydney Kesselman for a rebound during their game on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

It’s also no coincidence her recent run of strong games has come with the Ghosts’ annual late-season surge. With wins over Neshaminy and Council Rock North the last two weeks, Abington has played itself into a three-team tie atop the SOL National conference and has picked up some impressive non-league wins over District 3’s Dover and defending PIAA 6A champion Boyertown.

Monday pitted Abington (15-5, 9-2) against the Colonials (18-2, 12-0 SOL American) for the first time since the Ghosts emerged victorious at Villanova last March.

“They didn’t have anybody my size, so I had to take advantage of that,” Brown said. “If I didn’t adjust the game would have gone differently so we all adjusted and played good defense. It was on all of our minds that this was a rematch before we came here.”

Colonials freshman Anna McTamney has held her own defensively this season against taller players, but Brown presented a different challenge on Monday. The Abington junior can hit shots from the perimeter and that opens up drives that make her even tougher to defend.

“I didn’t think they had anybody that could handle her or double her and stop her,” Ghosts coach Dan Marsh said. “Their freshman is tough and she’s going to be a good player, but she’s not ready for a kid like Kassondra. We didn’t do anything special, we just kept giving it in to her.”

PW got off to a slow start on both ends of the floor, which let Brown get going early and it mounted into too much for the Colonials to overcome.

Colonials guard Taylor O’Brien had 25 points but needed 30 shots to get there as Abington made things as difficult as possible for the senior standout, who went 7-of-30 from the floor. Miranda Liebtag and Cam Lexow rotated defending O’Brien while Brown acted as a deterrent in the paint, making O’Brien take tough shots around the rim.

Lauren Fortescue had 13 for PW but suffered from the same fate as the rest of her team, which had no success from beyond the arc. After breaking a school record for 3-pointers in a single game last week, PW shot just 4-of-27 as a team from deep on Monday.

“Our kids couldn’t match her want-to when it came to rebounding, it was almost like watching a Moses Malone performance, putting the ball off the backboard for herself,” PW coach Dan Dougherty said. “Her motor tonight, our kids couldn’t match it. I told the kids in the locker room, tonight wasn’t the district championship, you tip your cap to them and we watch the film, see where we made our mistakes and come out with a better mindset to start the game.”

Brown had 10 points in the first quarter, with Abington leading 16-11. The Ghosts got up to a 27-16 lead with 2:53 left in the second, but PW scored the next eight to slice the lead down to three at the half.

Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Taylor O’Brien goes in for a layup during the Colonials’ game against Abington on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

After the break, Brown picked up where she had left off, dropping in 10 points in the third quarter as Abington rebuilt its lead and withstood another charge by PW. Ali Diamond’s three cut it to 39-33 only for Brown to answer with a bucket and another score by the junior sent Abington into the final frame up 43-37.

Guard Sam Brusha scored 16 points for Abington, Lexow had eight and Liebtag seven. Part of the reason Brown got going so fast was senior point guard Britney James, who had six assists and knew exactly where to send the ball.

“It’s very easy and it’s a fun game to play when she’s playing that way,” James said. “I can just dish the ball to her and she can go to work. Plus, I believe she’s going to get the rebound if someone shoots and doesn’t make it.”

Nine of Brown’s 20 rebounds came on the offensive glass and it’s her relentless drive that makes her such a force. Her size and strength give her an advantage, but that doesn’t count for much if there’s no desire to do the work of rebounding.

Dougherty pointed to one sequence in the game where a rebound was coming down between three or four white jerseys only for a maroon jersey belonging to an Abington player swept in for the board. It wasn’t just Brown, as Brusha boarded seven misses, Lexow and Liebtag each policed six caroms and James hauled in five rebounds.

“You can’t stop that kid,” Marsh said of O’Brien. “I even said to Kassondra ‘she’s going to get her 15-20 at least,’ and she said ‘why do you say that, why can’t we hold her to five?’ I answered ‘because no one has.’ It’s going to happen, we just have to make sure we contest shots and rebound the ball, which we did.”

ABINGTON 16 11 16 21 – 64
PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 11 13 13 14 – 51
Abington: Kassondra Brown 14 3-6 31, Britney James 0 2-4 2, Cam Lexow 3 0-0 8, Sam Brusha 4 8-8 16, Miranda Liebtag 2 3-3 7. Nonscoring: Jordyn Allen, Tamia Wessels. Nonscoring: 23 16-21 64.
Plymouth Whitemarsh: Taylor O’Brien 7 10-11 25, Lauren Fortescue 5 2-4 13, Ali Diamond 1 2-2 5, Anna McTamney 1 1-2 3, Sydney Kesselman 2 0-0 5. Nonscoring: Haley Zygmunt. Totals: 16 15-19 51.

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