WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Two seniors took care of most of the scoring, but top-seeded Abington Heights got contributions from players up and down the lineup to defeat second-seeded Crestwood, 51-45, in the District 2 Class 5A girls basketball title game Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Lady Comets have won three consecutive district championships (3A in 2016, the last two in 5A).
Abington Heights (18-7) will play Solanco (17-10), the sixth seed out of District 3, in the first round of the state playoffs March 10, at a time to be determined, at a District 2 site.
Senior guard Hannah Kowalski scored six of her game-high 20 points in the first quarter when Abington Heights took a 16-9 lead. Two of her baskets came on strong drives to the hoop.
“I just wanted to do whatever I could to get this W,” Kowalski said. “It means a lot to me…third year in a row.”
Abington Heights freshman Clair Marion scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in the first quarter to help spark the fast start.
“We opened up a gap in their defense and Clair took advantage and got to the rim,” Abington Heights head coach Deanna Klingman said.
Senior Cassie Ksiazek, who finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds (7 in fourth quarter), and three blocks, scored four in the second quarter to help Abington Heights stretch its lead to 31-16 at the half.
“Our shots were going in and we were playing good defense,” Ksiazek said. “It gave us the confidence that we needed and I think it really calmed all of our nerves.”
Ksiazek missed last season with a knee injury and was ecstatic to help her team win another district championship.
“It means everything to me to be back on this court,” she said. “It’s a great atmosphere and so much fun. This is why we play…to get back here. I’ve worked so hard and my teammates have pushed me every day at practice.”
Crestwood senior Julia Makowski scored five of her 10 points in the third quarter and knocked down a 3-pointer to pull her team within seven, 37-30, with 1:01 left in the third.
Abington Heights freshman Rachel McDonald scored all five of her points during a 7-2 run to start the fourth quarter that pushed the lead back to 12.
“(Crestwood) made a really good third-quarter run, but a lot of our younger kids stepped up and we gutted it out,” Kowalski said. “We fought all the way to the end.”
Senior Sara Hopkins scored eight of her 13 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws that cut Crestwood’s deficit to three points with a minute left.
Despite a late charge from Crestwood (17-8), Klingman remained confident in her squad.
Kowalski hit four free throws, and Ksiazek added another, in the final minute to help Abington Heights seal the win.
“I wasn’t nervous, at all, the whole game,” she said. “When I have these kids on the floor, I feel pretty confident.”
Erin Albright also chipped in with major contributions for Abington Heights.
The sophomore forward finished with five points, 14 rebounds, and five assists.
“It was really special to come out here, with these seniors, and be able to play such a big part in the game,” Albright said.
Abington Heights outrebounded Crestwood, 40-26, in the game.
“We were just trying to get the ball, so we could get second and third chances,” Albright said. “It’s really important during games like these to keep them off the glass and make sure we’re getting the edge on the boards.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.