Sharpe, Daley pull it together, lead Plymouth Whitemarsh past Abington in SOL overtime thriller

WHITEMARSH >> Erin Daley walked out of Plymouth Whitemarsh’s locker room, turned left and strode onto the court with a purpose.

The senior forward had spent almost the entire first half saddled to the Colonials bench after picking up two personal fouls and the look on her face as she picked up a ball and stepped to the free throw line said plenty. She’d watched Abby Sharpe practically will PW to at least a pulse at the break against Abington and she wasn’t about to let one of her best friends continue to have to do it all on her own.

Daley came on strong after halftime, providing all the backup Sharpe needed to finish an outstanding game as top-seeded PW outlasted Cire Worley and No. 5 Abington 45-44 in overtime in Saturday’s Suburban One League semifinal game.

“As I was sitting there through that second quarter, I was figuring out — I wasn’t trying to get in my head, wasn’t trying to bring myself down — I was trying to figure out what I needed to do once I had the opportunity to get back out there,” Daley said. “I saw there were open drive opportunities. I knew I needed to step up and help her score.”

Daley did just that, scoring all 17 of her points after halftime including 11 in a third quarter that helped turn things around for the defending SOL Tournament champions. It was just the lift Sharpe needed, the Penn recruit pouring in a game-high 22 points that included the game-winner on a strong drive to the rim with 56 seconds left in overtime.

For a half, it felt like Sharpe was trying to push the proverbial boulder up the hill herself with Daley rooted to the bench. Abington, which was looking to avenge its regular season loss to PW in the same gym, took away pretty much everything else on the defensive end and slowly but surely tacked a point or two onto its lead.

Then, after Sharpe scored to cut the lead to 13-12, the Ghosts closed on a 10-2 run to take a 23-14 lead into the break.

“When you have a team on the ropes like that, you have to put them away,” Abington coach Dan Marsh said. “Especially this team, they don’t quit. We had them on the ropes and didn’t put them away. We didn’t make some shots in the second half, so, it’s really that.”

PW opened the third quarter with Sharpe finding Daley down low for a score, kind of a statement that this half was going to be different. The seniors combined for all 13 points in the frame — Daley assisting Sharpe’s sole basket of the quarter — and the defense limited Abington to just six free throws on the other end as the Colonials got within a basket going to the fourth.

Sharpe, who made her name early in her career as an outside shooter and put the work in through the midrange on Friday, was not in a settling mood Saturday. The Penn recruit determined she was going to get hers at the rim and if anyone was going to stop her, it was on them to figure out how.

“It’s just a different mindset, it’s more aggressive,” Sharpe said. “It’s knowing, if you’re outside shot’s not there, then get to the basket and if a shot’s there, then take the shot.”

Sharpe and Daley, who combined for 39 of the team’s 45 points, have made a habit of carrying a bulk of the scoring this season. So at halftime, the two talked quickly, Sharpe reminding Daley they’re the ones who have to lead the team and knew her friend and teammate was ready to go do it.

“She came up big and her boost, it gave us the momentum for everyone to have that same energy,” Sharpe said.

The fourth quarter was back-and-forth with both teams trading big moment after big moment. Worley, who led Abington with 15 while also playing defense on Sharpe most of the game, traded tough layups with the PW senior to open the frame before Daley tied the game briefly at 31-31.

PW took its first lead on an Angelina Balcer bucket with 2:20 left in the game and led 39-36 when Sharpe scored off a Daley assist with 1:40 to play. Worley, Abington’s all-time leader in scoring for girls’ basketball, erased it with a clutch three that leveled the score with 57 seconds to go.

In three meetings this season, the Colonials and Ghosts have played to a combined score of 147-147. Not much separates them, even if the games play out differently, they always seem to end up in a one-possession tilt in the final seconds.

With PW No. 3 and Abington No. 6 in the current District 1-6A rankings, round four could be in the cards a couple weeks from now as well.

“We have come close as a team together playing in these extra playoff games and I think we were able to stick together as a team even more and had each other’s backs,” Daley said.

Marsh didn’t have anything negative to say about his team’s performance and the Ghosts battled the entire game even if some of their shots weren’t falling, they stuck with it on defense against PW’s prolonged possessions. The only thing he felt leaned in PW’s favor was the rebounding edge, the Colonials grabbing 15 of their own missed shots.

“I thought it boiled down to that we got dominated on the offensive boards,” Marsh said. “This is where our size comes into play. We have to understand as a team, we have to put bodies on people and finish with a rebound.”

One of those offensive rebounds belonged to freshman Kenna Winland, who got a put-back basket which preceded a Sharpe drive that put PW in front 43-42 in overtime after Piper McGinley gave Abington a lead to start the period. Sharpe, who had missed a tough shot in the lane in the final seconds of regulation, had another chance in the final minute after Worley had put Abington back in front at the foul line.

Setting up a drive from the top of the arc, Sharpe powered in, used a hop step to get to the rim and finished tough.

The job wasn’t done, with Abington getting a final chance on an inbound under the basket with a second left that, fittingly, Sharpe and Daley helped break up to expire the clock.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight, the game was going back and forth the entire fourth quarter,” Sharpe said. “We just had to get our good looks and play good defense.”

PW will host No. 2 Souderton, a 34-32 winner over No. 3 Neshaminy, in the SOL tournament title game Tuesday at 5 p.m. Daley, who was excited at the prospect of competing for another championship with her team, doesn’t plan to spend the game spectating as she did for half of Saturday’s contest.

“I can’t do that in the first quarter again,” Daley said. “I owed it to my teammates to play like that in the third quarter.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh 45, Abington 44 (OT)
Plymouth Whitemarsh 6 8 13 12 6 —-45
Abington 11 12 6 10 5 — 44
PW: Abby Sharpe 9 4-5 22, Erin Daley 8 0-1 17, Kenna Winland 1 0-2 2, Angelina Balcer 1 0-0 2, Azzy Crumpton 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 4-8 45.
A: Cire Worley 4 5-6 15, Maya Johnson 1 5-7 7, Abril Bowser 2 0-0 5, Jordyn Reynolds 3 0-0 8, Piper McGinley 1 0-0 3, Mikaiya Durham 2 0-0 6. Totals: 13 10-13 44.
3-pointers: PW – Daley; A – Reynolds 2, Durham 2, McGinley, Bowser.

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