Boys' Hoops: Penecale, Ghosts turn back Patriots


Matt Penecale's red-hot shooting, Anthony Lee's efforts off the bench, and some late-game resolve moved Abington a step closer to returning to Temple's Liacouras Center.

The No. 5-seeded Ghosts, overcoming 15 second-half turnovers, fought past No. 12 Penn Wood, 66-52, Tuesday night in a PIAA District 1 Class AAAA second-round playoff.

Penecale, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound sophomore, delivered 15 of his career-high 21 points, including four three-pointers, in the first half.

"It feels like I've been waiting all season for my shot to come around," the 16-year-old said. "I wanted to get in the flow early on in this one."

As Abington's sixth man, Lee, a junior, contributed nine rebounds (five on offense), five points, three assists, and three steals.

"He gave us a huge spark," Penecale said. "He rebounds well, shoots well. When he comes in, there's no drop-off at all."

Friday, in a quarterfinal matchup, Abington, which advanced to the semis at Temple last year, will host No. 13 Ridley. Penn Wood moves to the consolation bracket, and will take on No. 4 Norristown.

In the first half, Penecale, a second-year starter, was 4 for 5 from beyond the arc, collected eight boards (five on offense), blocked three shots, and handed out two assists.

"That's just flat-out effort," Ghosts coach Charles Grasty said. "Before this, he was in a bit of a shooting slump. In his defense, he wasn't getting the kind of looks he was last year."

Overall, Penecale shot 7 for 11 from the field (4 for 6 on treys) and 3 for 4 from the line. His three first-quarter bombs helped the hosts build a 17-7 advantage.

Down by 34-16 at intermission, the Patriots, with end-to-end pressure, forced Abington into nine third-quarter turnovers. In the fourth stanza, they trimmed the gap to 48-43.

"We knew they were going to make a run," Penecale said. "Every good team does. We just had to stay composed and gather ourselves."

In the middle of the fourth, Anthony Durham's three-point play and Jordan Simmons' left-wing trey gave the Ghosts (20-4) an 11-point cushion.

Durham (15 points, six boards) and Simmons (12 points, four assists) joined Penecale as double-digit scorers. Gemil Holbrook spurred Penn Wood (16-8) with 21 points, including five treys.

Penn Wood 7 9 20 16-52
Abington 17 17 10 22-66

PW: Tyree Bynum 13, Secean Johnson 3, Jeff Padilioni 4, Gemil Holbrook 21, Malik Jackson 8, Amadou Kaba 2, Antonio Ward 1.

A: Anthony Durham 15, Jiere Morrisey 8, Matt Penecale 21, Jordan Simmons 12, Anthony Lee 5, Khalid Gibson 2, Patrick Rice 3.

-Rick O'Brien