Abington Boys' Basketball Takes the Altoona Classic
Ghosts hold on for 71-68 win in final; off to 7-1 start
This was supposed to be the year the Abington boys’ basketball team transitioned from last year's collection of senior shooters to a solid unit of relentless passers.
The youthful Galloping Ghosts appear to have caught on quickly, returning from Western Pennsylvania with a 71-68 overtime win to take the Altoona Classic Basketball Tournament.
Anthony Durham's 29 points led the sterling effort over Allentown Central Catholic in the final, and Mike Griffin hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
With that win, over a team that included nationally ranked sophomore Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (No. 10 in the country), Abington moved to 7-1 overall, or two wins from their 2010-11 total.
"We feel like we can beat any team, and we're playing with a lot of confidence," Durham said. "We go into every game expecting to win. We really wanted to win this tournament."
After embarrassing host Altoona 70-54 in Tuesday's opening round, the Ghosts were in for a fight against Allentown Central on Wednesday.
They led 30-29 at halftime and 50-46 after three quarters.
A spurt led by ACC's Seth Stoudt put the Vikings up by 5 with 35 seconds to play, but Durham rolled in a tough layup, and the Abington defense got a stop with eight seconds left in the game.
Abington coach Charles Grasty drew a play for Griffin, a first-year varsity player. After the inbounds, Jordan Simmons found his teammate near the right foul line extended.
Griffin dribbled once and buried it.
"It was nerve-wracking," Griffin said. "When I got the ball, there were two seconds left, so I had to shoot it. When it I let it go, I thought, 'That's definitely going in.'”
The overtime period was less exciting, though still close. Clinging to a three-point lead, the Ghosts won when Stoudt — who had earlier drained a 25-footer — missed a game-tying attempt as time expired.
"It was a great win for the kids," Grasty said. "They're having a ball. We got one compliment today from a fan who told us that they enjoyed seeing a good team that was so unselfish. We try to teach these kids to play the right way, and they've bought into the system from Day 1. We're going to ride these wheels until they fall off. They really love playing together."
That wasn't always the case last season, when the team rose and fell on the talents of DJ McFadden and Wes Rines, who have graduated. Stop them, and you could stop the Ghosts.
This year, the Ghosts have a dangerous junior trio in Durham, Jiere Morrisey and Simmons, a talented long-distance shooter as a sophomore, who has quickly developed other aspects of his game, notably his defense.
Add in senior leaders Chris Ruhl and Tom Kennedy, plus freshman Matt Penecale, and Abington could mount a challenge in the Suburban One League National Conference.
And they'll do it together.
"We know we have to play well together," Griffin said. "We all can make tough shots, but we also want to make extra passes and get better shots. That's how we're going to win."