SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Anytime the Abington Heights and Scranton Prep girls basketball teams face off on the hardwood, the contest is spirited.
On Monday night, the Lady Comets hosted the ninth annual Hoops for Hope Pink Game, which serves as a fundraiser for The Foundation for Cancer Care, and delivered an inspiring performance, especially on the defensive end of the court.
This year, the game held a special meaning for Abington Heights as Kathy McDonald and Pam Heard, mothers of girls on the junior high basketball team, have been battling cancer.
Abington Heights limited Scranton Prep to just eight second half points and defeated the Classics, 34-19, in a Lackawanna League Division 1 game.
“We really focus on defense because certain nights we’re not going to put the ball in the basket,” Abington Heights head coach Deanna Klingman said. “I told the girls if you can play defense, you will be in every game this year.”
Scranton Prep got a boost from center Holly Daveski, who scored all six of her points in the first quarter when the Classics took an 11-9 lead. Lady Comets guard Grace Evans scored five in the quarter to keep her team within striking distance.
Four different players — Hannah Kowalski, Olivia Baker, Nicole Getz and Erin Albright — made baskets when Abington Heights outscored Prep, 9-2, in the second quarter.
“I was really proud of their effort on both ends of the floor and different people stepped up and hit big shots,” Klingman said.
The Lady Comets carried their momentum into the second half when Kowalski scored seven of her 10 points in the third quarter.
“We were really pumped up in the beginning of the game, but I think at halftime we realized that we could definitely win the game,” Kowalski said. “That got our energy up and we knew it had to start with our defense.
“There are a lot of people in our basketball community at Abington Heights who are affected by cancer. We’re a very tight-knit team and community, so this win means a lot.”
The junior guard’s driving ability kick-started the Lady Comets offense in second half.
“I didn’t really get to the basket much in the first half and that’s kind of my game, so I definitely tried to get to the basket as much as I could and the other guards did a good job separating so I could kick the ball out to them,” Kowalski said.
Getz, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, did a little bit of everything in the third with four points, three rebounds and two blocked shots.
“I wanted to come out and play as hard as I could,” Getz said. “We really wanted this win because it was such a special night. I gave everything I had. In the first half, we had a little trouble on the defensive end but we worked it out. Our coaches kept telling us to keep boxing out.”
After the game, players and coaches from the Abington Heights girls basketball program presented The Foundation for Cancer Care, of Scranton, with a check for $26,506.
As of October 2016, the foundation provided $40,000 in financial assistance for cancer patients and their families, more than 120 free mammograms and breast ultrasounds, $5,000 in travel assistance for patients traveling for treatments and visits to nutritionists.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.