Hickson and Young have AFS girls thinking basketball championship

Abington's Khadijah Hickson, left, and Jade Young block out Olney's Alexis Tindal on Wednesday. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff

Khadijah Hickson lives about five minutes from Abington Friends School.

She estimates that her teammate, Jade Young, lives about three minutes from her.

You go down Old York Road, the senior said. One street over is her house. Then, down the road and a couple streets over is where Young lives.

The players' proximity to each other and Hallowell Gymnasium has come in handy for the Kangaroos.

It was August, as soon as travel ball was done for the season, when Hickson and Young started meeting at AFS, usually around noon, Monday through Thursday.

"Want to work out?" was typically how the conversation began.

"OK, let's go" was the custom reply.

Next, they would call or text coach Jeff Bond, also the school's athletic director, to get access to the equipment, and then the work would start.

Hickson vs. Young. Five-foot-3 vs. 5-foot-11. Guard vs. guard.

The boys' coach, Steve Chadwin, stopped by sometimes. So would boys' assistant John Owens or girls' assistant Angie Adams, who were working in the school over the summer.

"They'd pop in, see us doing something wrong and give us pointers, tell us what to do," Hickson said. "By the time school started they weren't surprised to see us."

Over the course of a few hours the duo played one-on-one. Sometimes the rule was that they could only make layups to score. Other times it was jump shots or just three dribbles allowed to get to the hoop.

The games didn't have box scores, and the winner didn't receive a trophy. But the workouts are paying off for the 9-1 Kangaroos, and the evidence is on full display any time Hickson and Young are on the floor together.

"I can throw it anywhere down the court, and Jade is going to get it," Hickson said. "Even if I mess up a pass, she'll make it up for me. I can just throw it down there, and she finds a way to get it. Jade throws amazing passes, too. Bounce passes, anything. We'll just throw it up in the air. Our job is to just keep running because she's always looking for us."

Running.

It's the name of the game for AFS as the squad plays well in transition, starting with Young, who excels running the floor.

"Rebound and go," as Bond likes to say, is how Hickson prefers it. She likes the run-and-go style of the Roos, a team to which she transferred last season. But onlookers are never be able to tell considering how well she gels with her teammates.

"Dij is like my right-hand man," said Young, a Hartford recruit who is averaging 16 points a game. "On the court, we just click."

And now the pair, along with fellow senior captain, Alyssa DeNofa, are hoping to guide AFS to a Friends Schools League title, a feat the program hasn't achieved since 2007, having lost three out of the last four championship games.

"To this day I go back on Hudl and watch the game," Young said of last season's matchup against Friends' Central. "I just look at it and think, 'Dag. We were this close.' This year, we've got it. This is our year."

It's a sentiment the three all share. It's a sentiment that was on display Wednesday as the Roos were in control over Olney, the lead more than 20 points.

Hickson, Young and DeNofa sat together on the bench in the fourth quarter. As the only upperclassmen on the roster - the rest of the squad is entirely freshmen and sophomores - they take their leadership role seriously.

The three enjoyed themselves as their young teammates had opportunities to take it to the basket and put up shots they normally wouldn't, not even in practice. As shots went up they held their breath, waiting for it to fall through the net.

Then came the wide smiles, the high fives and the cheers when the ball went in.

It is the same floor on which DeNofa and Young had to watch upperclassmen play as seventh- and eighth-graders unable to participate in league contests.

It is the same floor on which Hickson and Young had put in so much work during the summer. The one just minutes from Hickson's house.

@ka_harman

kharman@phillynews.com