ALLENTOWN — Abington Heights was left battered and bruised, but not beaten.
Trey Koehler scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and first overtime, despite being hobbled after a collision and hard fall in the fourth, to help the Comets hold off Martin Luther King, 65-60, in double overtime, in the second round of the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball playoffs Friday night at Parkland High School.
“I just didn’t want to lose and I wasn’t going to let an injury get in the way of us winning the game,” Koehler said.
Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi praised the guts of the sophomore guard.
“He wouldn’t come out of the game and had a big steal (in the second overtime),” Bianchi said. “My assistant coach Jeff (McLane) said he can’t move, and all of a sudden he darts out and steals the ball. I said, ‘he moved there.’”
Comets junior Jackson Danzig also came up big down the stretch, scoring 11 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter and two overtime periods.
“We knew if we stuck to our game plan and executed, we’d be fine,” Danzig said. “We knew we had to be strong with the ball and not make any dumb decisions.”
Danzig also made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game, stealing an inbounds pass and firing the ball ahead to teammate George Tinsley, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds, for a layup to give Abington Heights a 63-60 lead with 17 seconds left in the second overtime.
“They made that same pass two plays in a row, so I was kind of expecting it,” Danzig said. “I was just going to hold (the ball), then I saw (George) was wide open. I threw it to him and he made the bucket.”
Danzig also sank five free throws in the second overtime to help seal the win.
Abington Heights went up by seven points after a basket by Tinsley with three minutes left in the third quarter, but Martin Luther King cut the deficit back to three at the end of the quarter.
Elijah Kiah-El scored six points and William McNair added five in the fourth quarter for Martin Luther King as the Cougars forced overtime
Danzig scored off a pass from Tinsley with 12 seconds left in the first overtime, but McNair answered with a basket off an assist from Kiah-El just before the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime.
After primarily playing man-to-man defense throughout the season, Abington Heights began the game in a 2-3 zone.
“We rolled the dice because they’re faster than we are,” Bianchi said. “I knew we couldn’t play them man-to-man, so in one day we put that zone (defense) and another variation of it in. I said ‘let’s just try it and it worked for a while.’ But, then they started scoring so we went back to man-to-man on the outside.”
Koehler’s injury wasn’t the only one suffered by Abington Heights. Senior guard Tommy Rothenberger had to receive medical attention after a cut opened up on the back of his head.
Ricardo Monteiro led Martin Luther King with 15 points on five 3-pointers.
Abington Heights (24-3), the District 2 champion, will play Chester (22-6), the fifth-place team out of District 1, at 2 p.m. Sunday at Liberty High School in Bethlehem in the quarterfinals.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.