SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Abington Heights withstood a hot shooting start from West Scranton and used a strong finish in closing the first half to defeat the Invaders, 49-24, in a Lackawanna League Division 1 boys basketball game Jan. 15.
West Scranton made the first two shots of the game and held Abington Heights without a basket until Seth Maxwell, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, hit a jumper more than two minutes into the contest. Maxwell tied the game on the Comets’ next possession with a mid-range jump shot before West Scranton’s Cole Stetzar made a long 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Invaders a 7-4 advantage midway through the first quarter.
From that point on, Abington Heights controlled the game.
The Comets put together a 17-1 run over the last 12 minutes of the first half, kick-started by a 3-pointer from Colin Klingman, to lead, 21-8, at halftime.
“They hit their first three shots and caught us off guard, but we fought back,” Klingman said. “That big run in the beginning really took us to the finish.”
Abington Heights (13-0, 5-0 Div. 1) ended the third quarter on a 4-0 run, courtesy of baskets from Maxwell and Tim Toro, who scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, to lead 33-16.
“I just tried to make quick post moves and get my shots up real quick,” Toro said. “We woke up a little bit more in the second half. We came out of the gates pretty slow, but we got into the flow of things and started playing more physical.”
Maxwell scored six points during a 9-0 Comets’ run to start the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“I’ve been getting into the gym and shooting a lot, and my shot has been getting a lot better,” Maxwell said.
The Abington Heights defense limited Stetzar, West’s leading scorer, to six points and created havoc throughout the game.
“He runs their offense, so we knew if we stopped him we would have a good chance of winning,” Klingman said. “He’s one of the top scorers in the (Lackawanna) League, so coming into the game that was our focus.”
West Scranton (8-6, 2-3) connected on just two of nine shot attempts in the first half and nine of 26 in the game.
“We got them out of the match-up zone (defense) and they did a great job playing man-to-man,” West Scranton head coach Jack Lyons said. “They were just better at all positions than we were, and when you have great coaching and terrific players with height and athleticism, it’s a tough combination to beat.”
Abington Heights’ 18-11 advantage in the turnover battle also played a big role in the Comets win.
“When you have 18 turnovers, you’re giving them 18 extra chances to score,” Lyons said. “Our kids play their hearts out, but you have to score to win and we’re struggling offensively.”
Abington Heights will host Delaware Valley in a Lackawanna League crossover game at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.