Maybe the record isn’t a surprise, but how Abington Heights’ girls basketball team has gotten off to an 8-2 start might be.
Could anyone have expected junior Clair Marion to turn into the outside shooting threat she is? Or for Allison Dammer to come off the bench and contribute seven points per game.
Certainly head coach Deanna Klingman not only believed it was possible, she’s expected it.
“We’re always about the team and what you can do in your role to make the team better,” Klingman said. “A lot of kids made a commitment to get better. Clair is one of them.
“We needed her to be more consistent with her outside shot. Over the summer she was more consistent with her outside jumper. It’s keeping defenses off balance. You have to play her for her drive. You have to play her for the 3-point shot. I think with each year, you are seeing better aspects of her gamer.”
Marion’s ability to get to the rim and use her size and strength has always been a plus, but now teams can’t sag as she hit 16 3-pointers through the first nine games.
“As of right now, I have more 3s this season than I did the whole season last year,” said Marion, MVP of the Pottsville Gatorade Classic Tournament. “I’m also making sure I move more without the ball.
“It makes us better. It’s more people moving and the defense gets tired easier. It creates open looks because the defense doesn’t know where you are going to go. If you kick it into the post and they have nothing, you kick it back out and keep running plays, so yeah, there’s more movement.”
Dammer’s improvement has given the Lady Comets more depth, which Klingman thinks will help as the year progresses.
“Allison coming in, we used her as the sixth man with a bigger lineup,” Klingman said. “For her to come off the bench and contribute scoring and rebounding and shot-blocking ability has helped elevate the team.”
It also helped Dammer earn an all-tournament berth at Pottsville, an unusual for a reserve.
“She got so much better from last year and that’s definitely helping us,” Marion said. “She’s a force coming off the bench because most teams are like, ‘Oh, she’s coming off the bench. She’s probably not that good.’
She comes in the game and makes an immediate impact.”
Those contributions have lessened burdens for other players.
“No surprise from my end,” Klingman said. “She had a great summer, a wonderful summer. She’s loving the game and loves getting better.”
Klingman points to her teammates for the strides Dammer has made.
“It’s good she has some good mentors,” Klingman said. “Every day at practice she has to play with Erin (Albright) and Anna (Scoblick) and they’ve been great with her.
“She’s only going to get better and better, the more she plays.”
That will only help the Lady Comets as they build toward their goals, including a fifth straight District 2 championship.
“We’re really all about cultivating a team concept and all of us have to contribute,” Klingman said. “I think everybody has pretty well-defined roles at this point and it really just helps us.
“At timers, our bench has been giving us 15-plus points a game, which is huge. That’s the difference I think for us. On any given night, everybody can shoot the ball that comes in the game. They come in and fill the roles. But on any given night, any one of six can be high scorer on the team.”
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