COVINGTON TWP. — On June 30 of last year, the Abington Heights girls basketball team had its first workout under new head coach Deanna Klingman.
After spending several years as The University of Scranton women’s basketball coach, Klingman now faced the tasked to get the Comets back to District 2 supremacy. Klingman asked her players where they wanted to go. The answer turns out to be the district title game.
Sophomore Hannah Kowalski scored a game-high 19 points and added six assists to help take down Wyoming Area, 60-44, in the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 2 Class 3A championships Monday, Feb. 22 at North Pocono High School. The Comets advanced to the district final against Scranton Prep, who beat Nanticoke 40-36 Monday night. The two teams will square off at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Junior Alessia Brunori controlled the glass, finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Cassie Ksiazek contributed 13 points and seven rebounds.
“At our first workout, they totally committed to the team atmosphere and everything new,” Klingman said of her first-year squad. “We’re rolling now and our confidence is pretty high.”
Coming off a school record 44-point night against Dallas in the quarterfinals, Wyoming Area’s Sarah Holweg was limited most of the game thanks to the stout, physical Abington Heights defense that kept her away from the hoop. Holweg scored just two points in the first half and finished with nine overall.
“We had to defend their good shooters,” Klingman said. “We did a real good job of that. We told our posts they have to defend and be better. We followed the gameplan.”
Kowalski said the Comets were trying to keep her as far away from the basket as possible.
“We all knew she is a really talented player,” she said. “We had to lock it up on her.”
The Comets raced out to a 9-0 advantage thanks to a bucket from Mariah Tulaney, a three from Nicole Getz and two post moves from Brunori. That momentum early, which Wyoming Area couldn’t overcome the rest of the way, led Abington Heights back to the championship game for the first time since 2014.
“I thought one of the most important things we did was push the ball early,” Kowalski said. “We got up quick and had a lot of momentum. That really helped us out down the stretch.”
The biggest push from the Comets came in the third quarter. Abington Heights held a high-scoring Wyoming Area team to just four points in the third. The Comets’ 14 points help create a 41-23 lead heading into the final quarter. From there, the Comets would keep the lead and never look back.
Kowalski’s contribution to the box score was no surprise to Klingman. It’s what doesn’t show up in the box score, however, that Klingman is most impressed with.
“She will take on any player defensively,” Klingman said. “That’s what I love about her. Offensively we talked about attacking the zone and attacking in transition. She did a great job of that tonight.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick