ABINGTON >> There are a lot of ways to win a basketball game. A fast start is a sure-fire one, and that’s exactly what the Abington Friends girls’ team did Thursday night. The Kangaroos jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back to win their own Coaches vs. Cancer Invitational 61-45 against Lower Moreland.
“We did a really good job of doing some of the things that we try to focus on,” AFS head coach Jeff Bond said about the first quarter. “We think we’re at our best when we’re in the open floor. We also try to defend…when we can get deflections and get the ball and go or force a bad shot, get the ball, and go we’re at our best. It was good to see some of the things we work on every day in practice bearing themselves out.”
Abington Friends never trailed in the game, starting 10-0 and forcing a LM timeout. The offense is great, but it’s the Kangaroo defense that really stood out. Every girl with an Abington Friends jersey on was playing tenacious on the defensive end, especially in the first half.
“We’re constantly trying to get deflections and constantly trying to stir things up,” Bond said. “We have a great group of seniors in Jade (Young), Khadijah (Hickson), and Alyssa (DeNofa) and they’ve started to take pride in our collective defense.”
AFS jumped out to a 28-8 advantage in the first quarter and a 44-24 lead at halftime.
Young also paced the Kangeroos all night long, scoring five of the first 10 points in the game. The senior finished with a team-high 19 points, 17 of which came in a lead-building first half.
“She’s always been a very skilled player,” Bond said about Young. “What she’s really added this year to her game is just her kind of relentlessness. She’s able now to brush off a bad play and go back after it. She’s able to, if she misses a shot, to lock somebody down defensively. Those kind of skills have grown this year and it’s great to see.”
Young was deservedly named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“It’s great,” Young said about the award. “That definitely motivates me to keep being the top, take over, and do what I do best to help the team.”
Young was playing more on the outside, while Paige Mott was a major force on the inside for Abington Friends. The 6’0″ freshman was getting position in the post all night and scoring at will.
“She has some great back-to-the-basket moves,” Bond said about Mott. “When she get’s good position she’s hard to defend in there. That was her best offensive game tonight.”
Mott finished the game with 18 points.
The standout star for Lower Moreland on the night was Rachel Millan. Abington Friends had a game plan for her, but the senior was still able to pour in a game-high 21 points for the Lions. Her reward was being named to the all-tournament team.
The game was played in Abington Friends’ gym, making them the hosts. The team proved to show very little hospitality, winning its games by 31 and 16 points over the two days.
“I was talking to the girls at halftime up 20 and saying ‘we want to not give them the hope that they can come back and beat us,'” Bond said. “That’s a great feeling to impose your will on another team.”