Abington Heights on to semifinals

First Posted: 2/29/2012

CARBONDALE- With a strong first quarter defensive effort and a late third quarter surge, the Abington Heights Comets advance to the semifinals in the Class AAA District 2 Playoffs.

The Comets defeated the Tunkhannock Tigers 45-30 Friday with sophomore guard J.C. Show sidelined for most of the game because of an illness.

Abington Heights’ early defensive pressure held the Tigers scoreless in the first quarter. Tunkhannock struggled to get off a shot attempt and when they did, junior forward Jason Bamford swatted it.

“Team defense is really important to get a victory and we tried to put a lot of pressure on the ball,” Bamford said. “Our guards did a great job there.”

Abington Heights defensive intensity opened up fast break opportunities and helped the Comets gain a 14-0 edge heading into the second quarter. The Comets stretched their lead to 16-0 before the Tigers scored their first points of the game with 7:30 remaining in the second quarter.

Tunkhannock guard Brian Stephenson scored six of the teams eight points in the quarter in an attempt to cut into the Comets lead. The Tigers decreased the deficit to 20-8 late in the second quarter, but senior forward John Vassil scored at the buzzer to give the Comets a 22-8 lead at the half.

Tunkhannock scored five straight points to start the third quarter and outscored the Comets 13-6 since falling behind 16-0 in the second quarter.

“We did not play well on offense,” Abington Heights coach Ken Bianchi said. “We weren’t in the proper position on defense, and we were not focused on what our assignments were.”

Bianchi put Show in the game with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter and the Comets’ halted any hope of a Tunkhannock comeback with a 15-3 run to end the quarter.

“I needed somebody to get a pass to somebody,” Bianchi said. “We put him in to facilitate the offense and he got the ball to some open guys.”

Junior guard Kevin Elwell nailed two 3-pointers for the Comets in the quarter and capped off the 15-3 run with a 3-point play after he intercepted a Tunkhannock pass on the other end of the floor.

“We started hitting a couple shots and getting a couple fast break steals,” Bamford said. “That put everything in our favor.”

Elwell scored a game-high 15 points while junior guard Jamie Egan added 11 for Abington Heights. Center James Hawk led Tunkhannock with 10 points.

“It’s my job to have these boys prepared,” Bianchi said. “We certainly didn’t play our best or anything close to it and that’s on me.”

At the time of this paper’s publication, the Comets were taking on Crestwood High School in the semifinal round of the district playoffs.

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