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Abington flourishing despite players losses

Although it graduated its top three scorers from last season and has been without a key starter, Abington is off to a 5-0 start in boys' basketball.

Although it graduated its top three scorers from last season and has been without a key starter, Abington is off to a 5-0 start in boys' basketball.

"With the starters that we lost, I don't think people thought we would be too good," junior combination guard Matt Penecale said. "We're trying to prove them wrong."

Last season, the Ghosts went 22-6, placed third in the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA tournament, and made a repeat trip to states. Gone from that squad are Anthony Durham (14.5 ppg.), Jiere Morrisey, and Jordan Simmons.

"We have to create something on our own now," Abington coach Charles Grasty said. "We don't have the type of individual scorers that we had last year."

The Ghosts are awaiting the return of 6-foot-3 senior swingman Anthony Lee, who suffered a broken ankle in Week 4 of the football campaign. He was cleared by doctors last Wednesday and is expected to return to action next week.

The host Ghosts spread the scoring in easily turning back Council Rock North, 48-28, Tuesday in a Suburban One League National Conference matchup.

Junior wing Amir Hinton and senior forward Lazaros Mackrides (four three-pointers) each netted 12 points; Penecale and junior lead guard Jordan Neely chipped in eight points apiece; and 6-5 senior Khari Jefferson had four points off the bench.

"The chemistry has been good," said Penecale, who added four assists and three steals against C.R. North. "We really try to play as a team. If somebody gets hot during a game, we'll look for him."

The 6-1, 150-pound Hinton is averaging 17.2 points. A deep sub last season, he netted a career-high 27 points in a 75-66 nonleague win over Frankford last week.

"He's coming around," said Grasty, whose team is 2-0 in National Conference play. "We knew Amir would be a special player."

Hearing. A District 12 committee will rule on the athletic eligibility of Math, Civics & Sciences junior Donovan Barnes, who played for Strawberry Mansion last season, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

The petition for Barnes to play at MC&S was denied by a District 12 board on Dec. 4. Tuesday, in an appeal in Mechanicsburg, the PIAA remanded the case to District 12.

On the cusp. Great Valley's Mikal Bridges, a Villanova recruit, needs only nine points to reach 1,000 for his career. He likely will reach the milestone in Friday night's nonleague game vs. Archbishop Wood.

Bridges is set to become the program's fifth 1,000-point scorer.

Fred Pickett Classic. In Saturday's Fred Pickett Classic, host Chester, 4-0 and ranked No. 3 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, will face No. 10 Math, Civics & Sciences (1-2) at 3:15 p.m.

In the 1:30 p.m. opener, George Washington will face District 3's Harrisburg, which last season went 28-3 and advanced to the Class AAAA state quarterfinals before losing to eventual champ Lower Merion, 63-62.

Holiday hoops. Several big games are on tap over the holiday break, including Chester vs. No. 2 Neumann-Goretti at 7 p.m. on Dec. 29 at Widener in the ninth annual Jameer and Pete Nelson Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic.

Also, in the Kobe Bryant Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic, Lower Merion will host No. 1 Archbishop Carroll at 7 p.m. on Dec. 27.