ABINGTON, PA – The Henderson High School basketball team will need some time to synchronize in this season following the graduation of four-year star Austin Constable and long-time starting point guard Des Alston. That much was clear Friday night, when the Warriors dropped a 66-53 decision to host Abington in the 2011 Ghost Tip-Off Classic.
With new coach Chris Bruno taking charge of the program, Henderson fell behind 10-0 in the early minutes and that was the wrong prescription against the longer and faster Gallopping Ghosts, who were on fire from behind the three-point line and in transition to advance to the tournament championship game against Archbishop Wood High School. Henderson will meet Wissahickon in the consolation game today at 2:45 p.m. at Abington.
The junior tandem of Jordan Simmons and Anthony Durham combined for 42 of the Ghosts’ points on a variety of drives, long-range rainbows and fast breaks. Abington hit a total of eight threes in the contest, forcing the inexperienced Warriors to play catch-up all night. And they did so admirably, pressing successfully at times and converting several offensive rebounds, but Simmons and Dunham were too much to handle.
“First games are always the most difficult,” said Bruno, who moved up to the varsity job after handling the jayvee last year as Leon Bell wrapped up a successful 12-year tenure as Henderson’s head man. “What we wanted to see didn’t work out, but we had three guys who never started a varsity game before,” he added in reference to the transition from last year’s 16-8 team. That squad was led by All-Ches-Mont scoring machine Constable and point guard Alston, both of whom provided leadership and maturity for the 2010 squad. “We played hard and you could see the improvement from the first half to the second half,” Bruno concluded.
The Warriors roared back after their spotty start, outscoring Abington, 8-2, through the closing minutes of the first quarter behind a three-pointer from Jalen Bethae and field goals from Jason McCormick and P.J. Costello. Durham took charge in the second stanza, scoring ten of his teams next 14 as Abington took a 33-18 lead into the half. The advantage became 20 early in the third as Simmons took over and Henderson could get no closer than 13 the rest of the way.
“We remembered them from this tournament last year,” said Abington second-year coach Charles Grasty, whose team went 9-13 in 2010. “We knew they had speed and would try force turnovers and they did some of that. But, we’re getting better. It was a good win.”
Chas McCormick led Henderson with 11 points and his twin brother ended up with 10. The McCormicks, both juniors, were joined by classmates Scott Cullinan (8) and Spencer Rymiszewski (5) in the scoring column while junior Declan Kane contributed five rebounds. That group was the core of the Peirce Middle School eighth grade team that went undefeated three seasons ago.
Bruno got eight points from Division I college football prospect T.J. White, who along with Rymiszewski is still working off the rust from Henderson’s Ches-Mont National Division Championship season.
“This was a learning loss,” added Bruno. “We’ll get a win later this year because of the experience we gained here tonight. “