WHITEMARSH >> When Abington needed points the most, the program’s all-time leading scorer delivered.
Heading into the fourth quarter of a PIAA-6A second-round matchup with Springfield Delco Tuesday night, the Ghosts were trailing by four points and potentially looking at the end of their season. Cire Worley and the other three seniors were facing the end of their high school careers.
Worley scored five straight points in the first 25 seconds of the final frame. She grabbed a rebound, raced end-to-end and scored through contact, hitting the ensuing free-throw, to give Abington a one-point lead with 7:35 standing between her team and the state Elite Eight. Aside from a brief 10-second one-point deficit, the Ghosts led the rest of the way in their 40-35 win at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
“I think that shifted the momentum,” Worley said of her three-point play, “because all we need on our team is one spark to get everybody going. I think whoever that is – whether it’s me or anybody else on the team or the bench – I think that’s good for us.”
The spark certainly fueled her teammates. A Maya Johnson runner put Abington ahead for good, 30-29, with 6:30 left in the game. Jordyn Reynolds, Piper McGinley and Abril Bowser all made key contributions down the stretch to help secure the win.
Worley scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. She went 5-for-7 from the free-throw line in the quarter and hit two shots – the layup through contact early and a crucial three-pointer a few minutes later.
The triple ended a chaotic possession with under three minutes left and put the Ghosts ahead by five. With a 33-31 lead, Abington extended the possession twice by grabbing offensive rebounds. The second board ended up on the floor with both teams diving for the ball. When the dust settled, Worley was alone at the left wing and found nothing but net from beyond the arc. The lead never dropped below three points the rest of the way.
Worley scored more than half her points from the free-throw line and her ability to draw fouls had an even bigger impact on the game’s outcome. She went 9-for-13 from the charity stripe and played a key role in three Springfield starters facing foul trouble. All three fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“We started running (Worley) off some screens,” Abington coach Dan Marsh said of the fourth quarter. “We started getting her some better looks. (Springfield was) holding her a lot. I felt like if we ran those plays it would be more obvious that she was grabbing her. We ran a play that we call ‘spark’ and she was obviously grabbing her. I think that’s what we wanted to do, show – hey, look, we have to free her up. There has to be a little more offensive freedom. But, again, they did a good job being really physical.”
“They were just trying to deny me the ball,” Worley, who grabbed eight rebounds, said, “but I think they were denying by fouling me. That’s why we kept calling those screens to force them to play defense. That’s what we have to do – we have to force people to play defense.
“I really do put a lot of focus into the free-throw line because I think I go there the most. Not only on my team, on other teams. On other teams, we see not as many people attack the basket. I think it’s very important that my free throws (are good).”
The University of Lowell Massachusetts commit started the game displaying her playmaking ability. On the Ghosts first three possessions, she assisted on a Reynolds three-pointer and two Bowser threes. Worley split a pair of free throws to have a hand in all of Abington’s early 10-0 lead.