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Photo: Jake Danna Stevens, License: N/A, Created: 2020:01:13 20:55:40

JAKE DANNA STEVENS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Abington’s Rachel McDonald scores two points against Western Wayne in the second half of play at Abington Heights on Monday, Jan. 13.

Photo: Jake Danna Stevens, License: N/A, Created: 2020:01:15 20:42:44

JAKE DANNA STEVENS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Abington’s Erin Albright scores against Scranton Prep in the first half at Abington Heights on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Only three Lackawanna League girls teams have accomplished the feat.

Abington Heights is hoping to make it four.

The four-time District 2 champs will be looking for a fifth straight gold medal when the postseason starts next week.

“There’s a lot of pride in that,” senior point guard Maria Tully said. “Our team wants to keep this streak going. We’ve always looked up to the teams before us. I know myself personally and the other players have had role models on the teams that kept this streak going.

“We’re going to take that and pass that on and that atmosphere and mindset to younger teammates so they can keep that going as well.”

Abington Heights teams of 1996-2003 won eight straight Class 4A championships, then the highest classification. Dunmore’s girls won six straight Class 2A titles from 2006-2011, and Forest City claimed five in a row from 1999-2003 in Class 1A.

This year’s Lady Comets, the top seed in Class 5A, are seeking their fourth straight in 5A after capturing a 3A title in 2016.

“Our team is special,” Tully said. “Each person plays their own part. We focus a lot on our defense because that’s what fuels our offense, and everything follows after that.

“We’re at where we’d like to be with that.”

Heading into Wednesday’s regular-season finale at Scranton Prep, Abington Heights was yielding just 36.5 points per game.

“Defense is the key for our team,” Tully said. “It fuels our offense. When we miss a shot, we are thinking get it back on the next defensive play and put the ball in the basket.”

That mentality has translated into a unit that has allowed just 36.5 points per game, and historically has bettered those numbers once districts begin.

In their current 13-game, District 2 tourney win streak, the Lady Comets have allowed just two opponents to reach 40 points, and in last season’s run to gold at Mohegan Sun Arena, limited three opponents to 26.3 points per game, 11 fewer than their regular-season average.

All five starters are back from that squad, but it’s not just defense where the team shines.

Clair Marion leads the team at 14 points per game, while Rachel McDonald is hitting at 10.2 per game and has 56 3-pointers, a big part of the reason the team has hit 40 more 3s than all of last season.

Tully, fellow senior Erin Albright, Anna Scoblick and Allison Dammer contribute another 24 points per game.

“That balance is what makes our team special,” Tully said. “We’re not really sure until we’re into the play of the game who is going to have a big game and we do a really good job finding that person, and that balance is what makes us win and lets us have the confidence we have.”

With the top seed, Abington Heights will have nine days off between the regular-season finale and the district semifinal.

Tully sees mostly positives from the time off.

“I feel like it’s good and bad,” she said. “I’d rather play a little earlier but that rest is nice, too. During that time we’ll be working on our game, doing extra shooting and being prepared for the next game.”

And trying to rise above any mounting pressure to extend their championship run.

“I think there’s added pressure but we have to keep that out of our minds,” Tully said. “Go in confident, not overconfident and play our game, and we should be good.”

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