UPPER DUBLIN >> The second half of Abington and Upper Dublin’s Suburban One League Liberty Division clash Tuesday night was a tale of two quarters.
The third quarter was all Upper Dublin. The Cardinals scored the first 12 points and turned a seven-point halftime deficit into a three-point lead.
Abington responded in the fourth. Including the final basket of the third quarter, the Ghosts rattled off 19 straight points to take a commanding 14-point lead with three minutes left. They maintained possession for most of the final minutes to close out a 46-34 win at Upper Dublin High School.
Abril Bowser scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. She hit a pair of threes, including the go-ahead basket to put the Ghosts up 32-30, and led the defensive effort that defined the game.
“Locking in, taking it one step at a time,” Bowser said was the difference in the fourth quarter. “Just doing what we have to do to win the little things and playing defense.
“When we played defense we got steals and they had to figure out who they were going to guard. They ended up guarding the ball, leaving the shooter open and we were able to knock down shots and get open looks.”
Abington (16-4, 12-2 SOL Liberty) forced five turnovers in the fourth quarter and held Upper Dublin (13-6, 10-4 SOL Liberty) to four points on two made baskets. Four of the five turnovers came on consecutive Upper Dublin possessions, allowing the Ghosts’ 32-30 lead to expand to 41-30.
“We panicked a little bit,” Abington coach Dan Marsh said. “My assistant coaches told me that they feed off my energy and I started to panic a little bit, so they started to panic a little bit. We were chirping back-and-forth in the huddle and finally it was said, ‘We need to take a deep breath, we need to relax and we need to rely on what we do. We need to start pressuring them and get them into the fast game’ and we were able to do that.
“Once we start playing that frantic, defensive pace, everything steps up. Offense included.”
“We just like to be aggressive and be on the person and get in their face,” Abington’s Piper McGinley said. “They get in their heads and we get steals.”
Cire Worley had five of her 15 points and grabbed four of her seven rebounds in the fourth quarter. McGinley had four points and two assists in the fourth.
“Unfortunately we’ve been here already this year,” Upper Dublin coach Morgan Funsten said. “Our first PW game it was a similar third quarter and couldn’t finish it. The Upper Moreland game was a similar third quarter and then this. We have to find a way to become more consistent. I have to find a way to put the girls in better spots so down the stretch we can finish one of these games. We’re obviously there for long stretches, but if we want to become a really good team, we have to find a way to finish these games. It’s going to have to be a joint effort here.”
Upper Dublin opened the second half with a 12-0 run to turn a 23-16 halftime deficit into a 28-23 lead. Colleen Besachio made a pair of layups before Amy Ngo hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 23. Megan Ngo added a basket before Amy Ngo knocked down another three to put the Cardinals ahead by five, 28-23.
“I thought the girls came out of halftime with a purpose,” Funsten said. “They were cutting hard and taking great shots and setting good screens. I thought they executed really well in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter we have to execute our press-break better than we did. I thought that was the difference and things snow-balled very quickly in the fourth quarter.”
Worley and Maya Johnson made a couple layups late in the third quarter to get the Ghosts within three, 30-27, heading to the fourth.
Megan Ngo led Upper Dublin with 13 points while Amy Ngo and Besachio each had eight.
Abington’s win keeps their SOL Liberty championship hopes alive. The Ghosts are a game behind Plymouth Whitemarsh with two games to play. Abington hosts Wissahickon Friday and travels to Quakertown next Tuesday while PW travels to Upper Dublin Thursday and hosts Wissahickon next Tuesday.
“I’ll be here (at Upper Dublin) Thursday cheering them on and seeing what happens,” Marsh said. “Not necessarily cheering, like Cire (Worley) said, ‘I’ll come but I’m not cheering anybody.’ We’ll be there watching and hopefully Upper Dublin can pull off the upset.”
Upper Dublin’s loss mathematically eliminates the Cardinals from getting a share of the league title. Funsten’s focus is on having the team ready to go for the District 1-6A playoffs, which start Feb. 17.
“I don’t think we thought about a league championship once this year,” Funsten said. “We are trying to focus so much on whoever is in front of us at this point. This is the type of team where we have to prove to ourselves we can finish one of these games, get a signature win and get some momentum going into districts… We’re going to need to win a game like this to extend our season. That’s the goal – extend the season as long as possible.”
Abington 46, Upper Dublin 34
Abington 15 8 4 19 – 46
Upper Dublin 10 6 14 4 – 34
Abington: Cire Worley 5 5-8 15, Maya Johnson 1 0-0 2, Abril Bowser 5 4-4 17, Mikiaya Durham 0 0-0 0, Jordyn Reynolds 1 0-0 3, Piper McGinley 4 0-0 9, Maura Day 0 0-0 0. Total 16 9-12 46.
Upper Dublin: Brighid Brady 0 0-0 0, Alaina Sanders 0 0-0 0, Megan Ngo 6 1-3 13, Lilli Kleiman 0 0-0 0, Amy Ngo 3 0-1 8, Colleen Besachio 4 0-0 8, Nora Brady 1 2-2 5. Total 14 3-6 34.
3-point goals: A: Abril Bowser 3, Jordyn Reynolds, Piper McGinley. UD: Nora Brady, Amy Ngo 2.