With every game possibly being her last at the high school level, Michael Harris knows that now is the time to make it count more than ever. So, when the Abington senior center/forward put up 22 points for the Lady Ghosts on Friday night, you knew she realized what was at stake.
Harris led Abington in a 55-36 win over Pocono Mountain West in a PIAA Class AAAA first round playoff at Stroudsburg High School, keeping the Lady Ghosts' season alive for at least one more game.
Harris led all scorers and added game-highs in rebounds (12) and blocked shots (three), while lifting Abington (20-8), the No. 6 seed out of District One, to a Tuesday night second round meeting with Wilson West Lawn.
"We played well,' Abington coach Dan Marsh said. "We knew a little about them and we knew they had a great player in Jackie Benitez, but we thought that we could dictate the pace both offensively and defensively and we were able to do that.
"Michael (Harris) and the rest of the seniors work real hard and we know we want to try to get as far as we can with them.'
The Lady Ghosts led 15-9 after one quarter and stretched that lead to nine points at the half. Abington didn't start to really pull away until the fourth, but Marsh's team still managed to control the tempo for the entire game.
"We were still a little bit nervous early, but once we settled in, we were able to play our game and we pretty much rolled. It was nice,' Marsh said.
Pocono Mountain West (19-9), the Mountain Valley Conference champions, could not get much going against the Abington defense, which held the Panthers to single digits in scoring three out of the four quarters.
"Defensively, it was just a complete, good team effort,' Marsh said. "Both offensively and defensively, I was very happy.'
Besides the big night from Harris, junior Bre Bermel played a huge role offensively, getting involved on the scoreboard more than usual with 16 points.
"It was really nice to get to play that much,' she said. "We told each other in the locker room that we wanted to play and win this one and it was a good boost to get us up and, hopefully, help us make a run at states. It just felt really great to give back to the team. We've been practicing really hard lately and I haven't been scoring that many, so I knew I needed to help myself and help the team and score as much as I could.'
"Bre was absolutely huge for us and had a great game,' Marsh said. "She always has the potential to score that may, but she wasn't always finishing. Tonight, she finished.'
Deja Rawls, the Abington junior who recently went over 1,000 points in her career, added 12 points, five assists and four steals for the Lady Ghosts.
Abington had lost two of its final three district seeding games before entering the state tournament, something which Bermel said most definitely helped the team to prepare for this round of playoffs.
"I think the losses were less a slap in the face than it just showing us that if we don't come out and play as hard as we can and participate more, we won't win. I think they did help us,' Bermel said. "They gave us more of a drive and we took those losses and got some determination and that's how we got this win.'
Abington (55): Nolan 0 0-0 0; Lochner 1 0-0 2; Rawls 6 0-0 12; Harris 9 4-6 22; Simmons 1 1-2 3; Bermel 6 4-6 16; Deal 0 0-0 0; Vitelli 0 0-0 0; Poole 0 0-0 0; Helm 0 0-0 0; Nicholson 0 0-0 0; Valleras 0 0-0 0; Gonzalez 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 9-14 56.
Pocono Mountain West (36): Walters 0 2-2 2; Benitez 6 8-10 20; Jones 0 0-0 0; James 5 2-3 12; Flaherty 0 0-0 0; Murray 0 0-0 0; Boutieller 1 0-0 2; Murray 0 0-0 0; Field 0 0-0 0; Gerling 0 0-2 0; Coles 0 0-0 0; Dangerfield 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 11-15 36.
Three-point goals: Benitez.
Abington 15 12 13 16—55
Pocono Mountain West 9 9 11 7—36