When it comes to Philadelphia professional sports rivalries, football has the Eagles and Cowboys, baseball involves Phillies and Braves, and hockey features the Flyers and Penguins. In terms of Suburban One National and PIAA District 1 Class AAAA boys’ basketball, one of the rivalries involves the Pennsbury Falcons against the Abington Ghosts.
During the 2014-2015 season, the Ghosts and Falcons met three times. In regular season conference action, Abington defeated the Falcons at home, 58-57, and in Fairless Hills, 52-50. The Suburban One National champion Ghosts finished the conference unbeaten at 14-0. When the squads met for a third time, the first-ever Suburban One League tournament championship on Feb. 9 in Souderton, the Ghosts took care of Pennsbury, 63-50.
Amir Hinton’s 25 points helped propel the sixth-seeded Ghosts to a 49-40 victory against the seventh-seeded Falcons on Feb. 25 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in a 2015 PIAA Class AAAA District 1 semifinal. The Ghosts have won 18 consecutive games and four victories against the Falcons this season. Derrick Woods led the scoring for Pennsbury with 17 points.
The Ghosts (25-3) advance to the District 1 title game against four seed Plymouth Whitemarsh on Feb. 27 at the Liacouras Center. Abington qualified for the semifinals after defeating host and third-seeded Pennridge, 58-49, in quarterfinal action as head coach Charles Grasty earned his 100th win with the Ghosts. PW enters the championship after a 44-41 victory against nine seed Ridley in the semifinals. The district title game is scheduled to start at approximately 8 PM ET after the 2015 PIAA Class AAAA District 1 girls’ basketball championship game between Abington and Central Bucks West.
Abington will attempt to earn its first district crown since defeating Ridley, 72-62, in 1986; the Ghosts are 2-2 in district championship games. PW will attempt to beat Abington for its first district crown since 1998, a 73-58 victory against Hatboro-Horsham, even though the Colonials’ previous appearance was in 2010 (a 54-49 overtime blemish to Penn Wood).
In the first half, Abington entered the locker room leading 22-10 after two quarters. Pennsbury, which scored the game’s first basket for a 2-0 lead, shot four of 16 from the floor in the first half.
Abington posted a 13-5 advantage after one quarter. The Falcons called a timeout with 2:44 left in quarter one (Abington led, 8-2). Pennsbury committed five second quarter fouls compared to four by the Ghosts (the Falcons fouled seven times in the first half and the Ghosts had six).
During the second quarter, Abington outscored the Falcons, 9-5. Pennsbury head coach Bill Coleman called a timeout with 4:18 left in the second quarter and expressed displeasure at the officials for not calling an Abington travel (the Ghosts led, 17-7). The Ghosts passed the basketball out of play with 3:01 left in the first half for their first turnover. However Woods was called for a technical foul with 2:16 remaining in quarter two.
All of a sudden, Pennsbury began the second half on an 8-0 spurt to get within four (22-18). The Falcons tied the game at 24 with 3:32 left in the third quarter and after Woods connected on a floater for the tie, he sank the and-one for a 25-24 Pennsbury advantage. Pennsbury made two free throws for a 27-24 lead before Abington’s Robbie Heath scored a three to knot the contest at 27 with 2:43 left in the quarter. A slam jam by Woods with 1:25 left in the quater along with a and-one gave the Falcons a 32-29 lead. At the end of three quarters, the Falcons led, 34-29, outscoring the Ghosts by 24-7.
Quarter four saw Abington begin on a 4-1 run (35-33 Pennsbury) before Hinton cashed-in a two to knot the score at 35 with 5:55 remaining in regulation. The Ghosts extended the lead to 39-35 after a Brian Close score and the Falcon’s used a timeout with 4:06 left. Mekhi Bryant’s trey with 3:03 remaining pulled the Falcons to within one (39-38 Abington).
Drama continued as a double technical was assessed with 41.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Hinton was awarded two shots (it was the double bonus for Abington and he made one of two for a 43-38 Ghost lead).Senior Matt Penecale (nine points) swished two three throws to give the Ghosts a five-point lead, 45-40, with 31.4 seconds left on the clock.
Ghost fans yelled “YOU CAN’T BEAT US!” and “FOUR AND O!” with 22.2 seconds remaining. The Falcons fouled the Ghosts one last time with 6.5 seconds left (Hinton deposited both free throws to extend the lead to 49-40) and the Ghosts prevailed with the nine-win victory.
Pennsbury (22-6) entered the semifinal coming off a 68-58 quarterfinal victory at second-seeded Methacton on Feb. 23. The Falcons are scheduled to host Ridley in the district’s third place game on Feb. 27. A win against the Ghosts would have allowed the Falcons to play in a district title game for the second consecutive season (lost in the 2014 final to Chester, 52-49).
PHS 5 5 24 6= 40
AHS 13 9 7 20= 49
Pennsbury: Mekhi Bryant 7, Nick Cereby 5, Rob Daly 2, Cameron Jones 9,Derrick Woods 17.
Abington: Amir Hinton 25, Jack Steinman 4, Matt Penecale 9, BJ James 1, Brendan Gallagher 3, Brian Close 2, Robby Heath 5.