UPPER DUBLIN >> Abington was able to create space between itself and Upper Dublin whenever it needed to in Friday night’s 47-38 Suburban One League Liberty Division win at Upper Dublin High School.
The Ghosts scored nine straight points to break a 10-10 tie late in the first quarter. They hit a three late in the first half to take a six-point lead to the locker room. They scored nine straight points from the middle of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth to extend a six-point lead to 15. When the Cardinals cut their deficit to seven in the final couple minutes, Abington went 4-for-6 from the free throw line to close out the nine-point win.
Abington’s first big run came at the end of the opening quarter. Caleb Baker came off the bench and, after Upper Dublin tied the game at 10, made a layup through contact. He missed the free throw, but when he scored in the same fashion to start the second quarter he completed the three-point play. A couple Rob Bell baskets made it a 9-0 run and 19-10 Ghosts lead.
“Caleb was with us last year and he understands, he knows what we need,” Abington coach Charles Grasty said. “He is coming off the bench for us right now and helping us out a lot. Very good player, smart, knows how to use his body. Those plays were big for us.”
The Cardinals (5-3, 2-3 SOL Liberty) answered with an 8-2 run of their own. After the teams traded baskets, Abington’s Sam McFarlane hit a three-pointer to extend a 23-20 lead to 26-20 with 1:15 left in the half. Neither side scored over the final 75 seconds to send the Ghosts to the break ahead by six.
McFarlane drilled a jumper to start the second half to make it a personal 5-0 run and eight-point lead. The SOL Liberty rivals traded baskets until it was 34-28 and then Abington took control. Bell scored six of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter and Oreck Frazier had eight of his 13 — including a pair of threes — to extend the lead to 42-28 after three.
“Offensively we did not execute the way we wanted to,” Upper Dublin coach Chris Monahan said of the third quarter. “We had some defensive assignments that did not go right and Abington has a lot of quick guys. They got on a roll and then we’re back on our heels.”
Bell hit a free throw to start the fourth to cap a 9-0 Ghosts (3-2, 3-2 SOL Liberty) run and make it 43-28 with less than six-and-a-half minutes remaining.
“Getting into a rhythm, being patient,” Bell said of the game-sealing 9-0 stretch. “In the first half we were rushing into every shot. We just had to play our game and play like we know how to play being patient and letting the game come to us.”
Upper Dublin responded with a run of its own, but it was too little too late. Drew Stover scored eight of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and an 8-0 Cardinals run cut their deficit to 43-36 with 1:03 left in the game.
Abington, which was 1-for-4 on its first four free throws of the fourth quarter, closed out the game shooting 4-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final minute to secure the win.
Upper Dublin had a chance to take control of the game early, shooting 3-for-3 to start. Abington’s Connor Fields, however, was able to grab a pair of offensive boards that turned into a put-back layup and Frazier three to keep the Ghosts within one, 6-5.
“Connor plays hard every single second he’s on the floor,” Grasty said. “Everybody’s learning each other as far as Connor doing his thing. Those rebounds were huge. We had to clean up some of the misses we had. He came through, I think he had a put-back and got fouled. We expect that from Connor – he’s a great player and as soon as he gets a little more comfortable he’ll be fine.”
The 3-for-3 start from the field was not a sign of things to come for Upper Dublin. The Cardinals offense avoided turnovers — committing 11 in the game — but couldn’t find the bottom of the net.
Stover entered the game averaging more than 25 points per game, but had just 11 early in the fourth quarter when Abington built its 43-28 lead.
“(Abington) had a guy in front, they had a guy behind (of Stover),” Monahan said, “but still, he needs to do a little better job of sitting down a little lower and we need to do a better job looking when he is open. At times we have to make shots and we didn’t do that. We’ve struggled with turnovers this year – this was not one of those. We didn’t make shots, we didn’t get the ball into good scoring positions for us and that was the game.”
“(Upper Dublin’s a) tough team,” Grasty said. “They know how to get (Stover) the ball and they make open shots. We wanted to give a lot of help and close out on the shooters. I thought our half-court defense at times did a good job.”
Abington 47, Upper Dublin 38
Abington 12 14 16 5 — 47
Upper Dublin 10 10 8 10 — 38
Abington: Ellis 0 3-5 3, McFarlane 3 0-0 8, Frazier 5 0-1 13, Bell 5 5-6 15, Fields 1 1-2 3, Baker 2 1-2 5, Boyd 0 0-0 0. Total 16 10-16 47.
Upper Dublin: Foster 0 0-0 0, O’Sullivan 2 0-0 4, Ceresier 4 0-0 9, Stover 8 2-4 19, Lee 0 0-0 0, Fatiga 0 0-0 0, Kukla 0 1-2 1, Boutilier 1 0-0 3, Pensabewe 0 2-2 2. Total 15 5-8 38.
Three-point goals: AB: McFarlane 2, Frazier 3. UD: Ceresier, Stover, Boutilier.