**Note: This article originally published on PaPrepLive.com**
ABINGTON >> “We take it one game at a time” is one of the many clichés that exist in the sports world. The Abington boys basketball team may very well follow that motto — it wouldn’t be a contender in the Suburban One League National Conference if it didn’t. But their rematch against Pennsbury Thursday night has been on the Ghosts’ minds since their loss to the Falcons back in December.
“We lost to them the first time, heads down, couldn’t believe it really,” said Abington freshman Eric Dixon after the game. “When (Pennsbury) went up there and lost to Council Rock South, they left the door open for us, and we put this one on the calendar ever since then.”
Abington turned its excitement into intensity on the defensive end to take down Pennsbury 55-35 and claim first place in the SOL National at the halfway point of the conference season.
The Ghosts (11-3, 7-1 conference) held Pennsbury to just 11 points in the first half, despite the fact the Falcons average 55 points per game on the season.
“We definitely wanted to switch up some defenses against them, throw them some different looks… make them take tough shots,” Abington coach Charles Grasty said. “Our length hurt them a little bit and our guards were able to get out there and make them take tough shots.”
Pennsbury only had three made field goals in the first half against the combination of a press and tenacious half-court defense from Abington.
The Ghosts only had seven field goals themselves in the first half, but still led 17-11 at the break thanks in part to six points from Dixon in the second quarter. The freshman finished with 11 for the game.
“Eric’s getting better and better every practice, every day, every game,” Grasty said about his big man. “He’s definitely one of the focal points of our offense — we look for him. We don’t care if he’s a freshman or anything like that.”
The separation in the game came in the third quarter, when Abington outscored the Falcons 15-6 and stretch its lead to 15. A 6-0 run to start the fourth was all the Ghosts needed to salt away a victory.
“One of our assistant coaches told us we were 7-for-20 in the first half,” Grasty said. “We were getting good looks, we were just missing them. I thought with the crowd and the type of game it was our guys were a little anxious and rushing a little bit… I just told them to keep fighting and the shots will fall.”
Point guard Robbie Heath was the catalyst for Abington in the second half, scoring 12 of his game-high 16 points in the final 16 minutes.
“We didn’t change anything up offensively (in the second half). We just made shots,” Grasty said. “The one thing we tried to stress was being patient… let’s run our offense all the way through, let’s make some passes, let’s make them play defense and see if we can get some easy ones. We were able to.”
Pennsbury (9-5, 6-2) was paced on offense by Mark Flagg, who scored eight points. Rob Daly and Isaiah Carpenter each chipped in six for the Falcons, but Carpenter fouled out with just under eight minutes left in the game. His matchup with Dixon was key on the inside.
“I just remembered what I was looking at on film and saw that (Carpenter) was letting me get off my hook shots,” Dixon said. “I just took advantage of what he was giving me and it worked out.”
Being in first at the halfway point of the season is great, but Abington knows it has a long way to go if it wants to win its fourth consecutive conference title.
“We definitely want to be on top, you know,” Grasty said. “But we still have a lot of basketball left, a lot of league games…we like where we are but we’re not gonna stare at (the standings).
“We’re gonna take it one game at a time.”