AP NEWS

5A GIRLS: Abington Heights Will Vie For 4th Straight Title

February 24, 2019

SCRANTON — Clair Marion made big plays. So did Erin Albright.

However, when it comes to hitting clutch shots against North Pocono, no one surpasses Abington Heights’ Rachel McDonald.

The sophomore guard hit a step-back, 3-pointer with one minute left in the third quarter to give her team the lead for good, and the Lady Comets pulled away at the free throw line over the final eight minutes to defeat North Pocono, 42-31, in Saturday’s District 2 Class 5A girls basketball semifinal at Marywood University.

It was the third time in as many games, dating back to last season, that McDonald provided the dagger against the fifth-seeded Lady Trojans, sending No. 1 seed Abington Heights in search of its fourth straight District 2 crown. It will face Wyoming Valley West on Saturday at

6 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Lady Spartans ended Crestwood’s season, 51-28, in the other semifinal.

“I knew she was going to get one when she got an opening,” Abington Heights coach Deanna Klingman said. “She didn’t one take one the possession before and I yelled to her, ‘Rachel, shoot it.’ And she shot it and she made it.

“We needed to get something from the perimeter.”

For quite a while, Abington Heights (19-5) needed anything from anywhere. North Pocono was more physical and frustrated the Lady Comets. It hit rainbow 3s against a zone defense, necessitated when Albright picked up a second foul early in the second quarter, and kept the Comets from attacking the rim, save Marion, who scored seven of her 12 in a first half that ended tied at 15.

“The girls came out and executed, and they executed for as long as they could,” North Pocono coach Corey Valvano said. “Their experience took over. They didn’t falter, they attacked the basket, they switched defenses on us and got out and started running.

“Clair Marion got more aggressive and Erin Albright got more aggressive, which opened up the exterior. We made some mistakes against their pressure. It sped our game up a little bit, but I couldn’t be prouder of our kids.”

Marion’s steal and drive from three-quarter court tied the game at 19 with 2:25 left in the third.

“They played really good defense, but we also played really good defense,” said Marion, who scored 12, had a pair of blocks and two steals. “If we’re going on a streak and we’re not scoring we have to drive and make a layup, which motivates us to keep going.”

Izzy Pehanick countered with a 15-footer for the Lady Trojans (14-10) for their final lead, but Albright was fouled driving to the bucket and hit two free throws to knot it again.

“I think we were nervous and scared in the first half,” said Albright, who also scored 12 and cleared a game-high nine rebounds. “After we calmed down, we became a whole different team. We became settled on offense and played more intense defense, got in the shooter’s face, and that really contributed.”

A turnover after Albright’s foul shots gave McDonald a wide-open look from the right wing, and she swished just her third shot of the game.

McDonald added two free throws for a 26-21 lead after three, and after Pehanick’s two foul shots cut the margin to three, Albright got free for a layup on an inbounds pass from Maria Tully, who on the next possession drove, spun and converted a three-point play.

From there, it was a march to the foul line as North Pocono had to chase and the Lady Comets went on an 8-2 spurt to push the lead to 38-25 with 2:45 to go.

“You kind of saw their experience in these kind of games take over down the stretch,” Valvano said. “It was 19-17 and they stayed cool and calm and collected. In these kind of games, you have to tip your hat to coach Klingman and her staff and her team.

“It was a great job staying with it, not succumbing to the pressure of being down two late in a playoff game. They stuck with it. They made plays.”

 

North Pocono (14-10) — I. Pehanick 3-7 2-4 8, J. Montana 3-9 0-0 7, A. Goldenzeil 3-4 0-0 7, J. McDonough 3-9 0-0 7, M. Carney 1-2 0-0 2, B. Ruby 0-1 0-0 0, C. Colo 0-2 0-0 0, A. Balbach 0-0 0-0 0, M. Seidita 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-34 2-4 31.

Abington Heights (19-5) — C. Marion 4-12 3-5 12, E. Albright 3-4 6-6 12, R. McDonald 1-3 5-6 8, M. Tully 1-6 5-8 7, A. Scoblick 1-2 1-4 3, A. Davis 0-0 0-0 0, S. Henzes 0-1 0-0 0, A. Dammer 0-0 0-0 0, M. Kohanski 0-0 0-0 0, L. Lombardo 0-0 0-0 0, A. Murray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 10-28 20-29 30.

North Pocono 5 10 6 10 — 31

Abington Heights 6 9 11 16 — 42

3-point shooting: NP 3-9 (Goldenzeil 1-1, McDonough 1-2, Montana 1-5, Ruby 0-1), AH 2-10 (McDonald 1-2, Marion 1-3, Henzes 0-1, Tully 0-4). Rebounds: NP 23 (McDonough 5), AH 20 (Albright 9). Assists: NP 7 (Ruby 3), AH 3 (Tully 2). Steals: NP 4 (Montana 2), AH 11 (Scoblick 4). Turnovers: NP 20, AH 10. Blocks: AH 3 (Marion 2).