Abington Boys' Basketball Falls to Council Rock North
North comes back from 12-point, second-half deficit
NEWTOWN — The current version of the Abington boys' basketball team has reached the point where moral victories and excuses don't exist.
A loss is still a loss, even one that started out as a big win against one of the District 1's top teams.
By the end of Tuesday night at Council Rock North's gym, the Ghosts failed to hold a 14-point lead, and the Indians stormed back to a 65-56 win in a crucial Suburban One League National Conference match-up.
"You have to give credit to Council Rock North," Abington coach Charles Grasty said. "They hit some tough shots. Our guys did what we asked them to do. They stepped back and hit threes. It's hard to guard that. They've won 11 straight for a reason. It's not like we're losing to teams with zero wins. This team is really good."
North had rolled over most of their opponents during the first 10 games of its winning streak, but was severely tested Tuesday on their home court. The Indians trailed by double-digits as they sputtered in the first half, with the lone bright spot coming on senior Aaron Morgan's 1,000th career point — a jump shot in the lane with 26 seconds left in the half.
Abington led 35-27 at halftime, and rebuilt their lead to 12 after Jordan Simmonds drained a three-pointer. North answered with five points before a technical foul was called on coach Derek Wright.
After Matt Penecale made the second of two free throws, the Indians went on a 9-2 run to pull within two points heading into the final quarter. The third quarter also including trays by Rip Engel, Kyle McCloskey, Morgan and Matt McCloskey.
Each team had a pair of double-digit scorers. Morgan and Aaron Goodman had 18 apiece for North, while Anthony Durham and Simmons had 17 and 16, respectively.
"We can all score," Morgan said. "When you have five guys on the floor who can do everything — our big guys are like guards, they can dribble, we can put them on the perimeter and they make good decisions. We know if we're down we can come back because we have the pieces to do it. We all know our roles, we know we can chip away at leads like that."
Abington gave up the lead for good with 4:50 left in the game, when Matt McCloskey's three-pointer put them up 53-52. From there, North went into ball-control mode and relied on foul-shooting ability. The Indians held Abington without a field goal for nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter.
"Once they had the lead, they're probably the best foul-shooting team in the state," Chris Ruhl said. “It's hard to be beat a team that won't miss from the line.
"It was frustrating to lose, but we have to take away the positives," Ruhl continued. "We came out on fire. We came out playing the basketball that we want to play. It's a shame that we couldn't finish, but I'm really proud at how we came out against a great team like Council Rock North."
Despite the loss, Abington (12-5) remains in good position to earn a district playoff berth. They'll face Pennsbury on Friday; they have four more games after that.
"The ball bounced their way tonight," Grasty said. "Their leader (Goodman) got hot at the right time. Maybe they miss a few of those threes and we convert. But they fell and we didn't get a chance to get our transition game going in the second half. It's hard to run after a made shot.
"We're not disappointed in our guys,” he said. “They defended well and some of our shots didn't fall. We lost to a very good team that shot better than us. We're not going to lay down against anybody. That's what I like about these guys. The effort tonight was great."
Abington: Anthony Durham 5 6-8 17; Jordan Simmons 6 1-1 16; Matt Penecale 3 1-2 7; Chris Ruhl 3 1-2 7; Jiere Morrisey 2 0-0 6; Michael Griffin 1 0-0 3. Totals: 20 9-13 56. Council Rock North: Arron Goodman 7 4-5 18; Aaron Morgan 7 0-0 18; Alex Jordan 2 2-2 6; Kyle McCloskey 4 3-5 12; Rip Engel 1 0-0 3; Matt McCloskey 2 2-2 8; Alex Corry 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 11-14 65.
Three-point field goals: Abington -- Griffin, Durham, Simmons 3, Morrisey 2. Council Rock North--Morgan 4, M. McCloskey 2, K. McCloskey, Engel.