Plymouth Whitemarsh answers Abington’s challenges to cap unbeaten SOL Liberty season

WHITEMARSH >> Abington kept issuing challenges, so Plymouth Whitemarsh just kept responding.

Every time the Ghosts made a run on Saturday, the Colonials found a way to answer it with a run of their own, making an uphill climb all the more challenging. The last obstacle standing in the way of an undefeated SOL Liberty season was a team that had taken the Colonials to the wire in their first meeting.

PW’s ability to respond was the difference as the Colonials topped Abington 60-47 to stay unbeaten.

“I think it was more of a ‘want,’” Colonials forward Jordyn Thomas said. “We wanted to get this win, we wanted to finish it out, we wanted to get ahead and we wanted to shut the game out instead of letting stay right with us the entire game.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh (13-0, 10-0 SOL Liberty) never trailed after the 2:48 mark of the first quarter, but that didn’t mean Abington faded away quietly. The Ghosts (7-4, 6-4 SOL Liberty) rallied to tie the game 16-16 in the second quarter, got within 32-31 in the third and made a last push in the fourth to get within 49-44 after it looked like PW was going to pull away.

So, the Colonials went to the well and came back what they needed each time. Abington’s second quarter surge was met with a 10-0 run, the third quarter saw PW rip off 13 straight points as a counter-punch and the final push was repelled by seven straight points, all from the foul line.

“We talked pregame that this is a special group and we don’t have a lot of time left together, we only have three games promised to us, so it’s time to start playing with that passion,” PW coach Dan Dougherty said. “Every team we play from here on out is a playoff team, so if you want to be the best, it’s time to start measuring it.”

Abington left the gym still looking for its signature win of the season. The Ghosts have as much talent as anyone else around, but sometimes can get in their own way which coach Dan Marsh felt happened in the second quarter Saturday.

A couple of turnovers helped PW sustain its 10-0 run that made a tie game into a hole Abington spent the rest of the afternoon trying to dig out of.

Offensively, the shots were there for Abington but the makes weren’t. Both teams made six 3-pointers, but the Colonials’ came at key junctures including their 13-0 run that ended the third quarter.

“When you play a good team like that, they take advantage,” Marsh said. “We got a lot of good looks, but they knocked theirs down and we didn’t. We did everything we could do except make those shots.”

During a recent practice, Dougherty noticed his team’s zone offense was tilting about 80-20 in favor of shooting 3-pointers. That number was too skewed for his liking, especially with good forwards like Thomas, Erin Daley and Lainey Allen on the floor who could put the ball in the basket.

Point guard Kaitlyn Flanagan noted pretty much all the Colonials have seen recently is zone defenses and they need their zone offense to be effective as they advance toward the playoffs. With a size advantage on Saturday, PW looked inside and got results.

Thomas had seven points and rewarded her team with some key defensive plays late while Allen was solid with eight points on 4-of-4 shooting and made Abington pay for not collapsing in when she got the ball.

“We decided to attack the basket, last game I feel like were content just shooting behind the line,” Flanagan said. “This time, we wanted to get to the basket and from there we got shots at the rim or got fouled.”

“We’re always working on getting open and getting in position for the guards to see us,” Thomas added. “We want to be in position to get the ball or get offensive rebounds and get our team points.”

PW’s third quarter was a class in point guard play from Flanagan, who netted five points and assisted four field goals in the quarter. The junior, a recent Holy Cross commit, facilitated the quarter-ending run and her teammates cashed in on the set-ups with some timely makes from behind the arc in the corners.

Flangan finished with a team-high 15 points, plus six assists. Ironically, the Ghosts rarely play zone but go to it for match-up reasons against PW, the Colonials’ point guard a major reason why.

“We knew we would give up corner threes, last time they shot 1-for-10 and today they probably had four or five of them,” Marsh said. “Maybe we should play where it’s 80-80 but I don’t know if it would benefit us, (Flanagan) is so good I don’t know that we could contain her playing our usual style.”

Abington was led by 16 points from Cire Worley, 13 from Khalis Whiting and 14 from Jaida Helm, who also brought down nine rebounds.

Flanagan said her team was happy to reach its goal of an outright division title and she felt the Colonials played much better than their first meeting against the Ghosts, which was just as important.

“We emphasized the passion to want to win,” Flanagan said. “(Abington) is great, they have outstanding players, so we had to match them down the floor every single time and have the energy to do it for the entire game.”

PW visits Central Bucks East on Tuesday and will host Central Dauphin, one of the top teams in District 3, next Saturday as a final set of tune ups before the playoffs. After having their season cut short by COVID-19 last winter, the Colonials’ emphasis is to make the most of each day they have left together.

“We enjoy every practice, we enjoy every game and we need to make sure we keep this energy going throughout the rest of the season,” Thomas said. “It’s our last time together with this amazing group, but we just want to keep the energy high and take it one day at a time.”

PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 13 13 19 15 – 60
ABINGTON 8 10 13 16 – 47
PW: Kaitlyn Flanagan 5 3-6 15, Erin Daley 1 3-4 6, Gabby Cooper 1 0-0 2, Anna McTamney 3 8-8 14, Jordyn Thomas 2 2-2 7, Abby Sharpe 3 0-0 8, Lainey Allen 4 0-0 8. Totals: 19 16-20 60.
A: Cire Worley 4 6-6 16, Abril Browser 1 0-0 3, Jaida Helm 6 0-1 14, Maura Day 0 1-2 1, Khalis Whiting 6 0-0 13. Totals; 17 7-9 47.
3-pointers: PW – Sharpe 2, Flanagan 2, Daley, Thomas; A – Helm 2, Worley 2, Browser, Whiting.

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