By NATE HECKENBERGER
UWCHLAN -- Against a 6-foot-2 eraser in the middle, Downingtown East could hardly survive playing from a hole, as well.
Abington's senior center Michael Harris made sure the Galloping Ghosts controlled the way the game was played, causing chaos on both on ends of the floor.
As a result, No. 15 Downingtown East never led in the game and could not overcome a big halftime deficit and fell to No. 18 Abington, 53-37, at home in a District 1 Class AAAA first-round game Monday night.
"That's a good team and the seeding stuff is so odd sometimes with the point system,' East coach Bob Schnure said. "It was a tough draw for us. They're a good team and they had a big girl who did a nice job on us in the first half with her shot-blocking.'
The Cougars tied Abington three times early in the first quarter, but fell behind by 13 points at the half. The Ghosts will face second-seeded Garnet Valley in the second round on Wednesday night.
"We dug ourselves too deep of a hole,' East senior guard Kennedi Van Eyken said. "If we coulda started the game like (we started the third quarter) we coulda made it a closer game, if anything. It was too deep of a hole to come back from.'
Abington out-rebounded East 16-6 in the first half, leading to eight more shots than the Cougars the first 16 minutes. Harris had eight of the 16 first-half rebounds, four off the offensive glass. She finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
"We faced that against Rustin with (Adashia) Franklin,' Van Eyken said. "I think Lindsay (Kent) played a good game inside. It's just what happens with a 6-foot-2 senior against a sophomore who's trying her best.'
Kent scored a game-high 18 points for East, including 11 of the Cougars' 15 points in the first half. She was the lone double-digit scorer for East, as fellow sophomore Paige Warfel couldn't get anything going, shooting 2-for-14 from the field and finishing with eight points.
"Paige usually gets to the line 10 times a game and in the first half she didn't get there,' Schnure said. "And when we did get a clear shot to the basket we didn't make them. As a team we didn't look good.'
"Lindsay really showed tremendous improvement and did a great job for us,' Schnure added. "She finished some plays and I'm really proud of the way she developed over the year.'
Abington held East to 7-for-22 shooting in the first half and kept Warfel scoreless while building its lead.
"We have two of the best guards, defensively, in Deja Rawls and Sammy Lochner that can switch off and wear girls down,' Abington coach Dan Marsh said. "We knew coming in, stuff runs through (Warfel), so we had to get the ball out of her hands. That was the gameplan, to take 20 out of the game and let others take shots.'
Many of the Cougars' shots were contested, and in the second half East was able to draw fouls and got to the line eight times. The Cougars made a mini-run with Harris out with foul trouble from late in the third to early in the fourth, but the best they could do was cut Abington's lead to 12.
With Van Eyken the lone senior on a team that won the Ches-Mont National Division, the future is bright for the young Cougars, even with change on the horizon.
The core of Kent, Warfel, Kaelyn Johns and Aryah Aungst will likely have East back in contention again next winter.
"I think we had a really good season,' Van Eyken said. "I think the girls played a great game and gave good effort and we had a good season.'
Abington 53, Downingtown East 37
Abington- Rawls 4 0-0 9; Nolan 4 1-2 10; Harris 6 3-3 15; Simmons 4 0-1 8; Lochner 4 0-1 9; Bermel 0 0-0 0; Vitelli 1 0-0 2; Deal 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 4-7 53.
Downingtown East - Aungst 3 1-2 7; Warfel 2 4-6 8; Kent 6 6-8 18; Johns 0 2-2 2; Van Eyken 1 0-0 2; Ochsner 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 12-16 - 37.Abington 14 14 12 13 -- 53
Downingtown East 8 7 13 9 -- 37
3-point goals: Rawls, Nolan, Lochner.