SCRANTON — Abington Heights used a fast start to build a sizable lead and the Comets kept up the defensive pressure to defeat West Scranton, 67-47, in a Lackawanna League Division 1 boys basketball game Jan. 12.
Longtime Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi earned his 757th career win, moving him into a tie with former Forest City coach Julius Prezelski for most victories by a coach who spent the majority of his career at schools that currently make up District 2.
“It probably didn’t set in yet,” Bianchi said moments after the win. “I keep thinking I’ve been around so long that they just add up and you don’t even realize it. It’s just longevity that contributed to most of it.
“It was nice to play against (West Scranton) coach (Jack) Lyons; he was my first boss. He hired me, right out of college, as a baseball coach at West Catholic, so I have to watch how I treat him. It’s also an honor to be mentioned with coach Prezelski. He’s a legend.”
Bianchi, who previously coached at Line Mountain, Scranton Tech and West Scranton, will attempt to move ahead of Prezelski when the Comets host Honesdale Tuesday evening.
Abington Heights (10-2, 3-1 Div. 1) scored the first 15 points of the game and led West Scranton, 22-7, at the end of the first quarter.
Senior guard Jackson Danzig hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 12 of his game-high 20 points during the quarter. He felt the early momentum carried the Comets through the rest of the game.
“It really helps the team get into the flow of the game and opens up lanes to help everyone else score,” Danzig said. “I come into every game with the same mindset. If (my shot) goes in, I keep shooting. If not, I look to get my team the best available shot.”
Comets junior forward George Tinsley, who finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, scored 10 in the second quarter when Abington Heights increased its lead to 23.
“We definitely knew we had to drive more because, eventually, they were going to start coming out to guard the 3s because Jackson was making them and Corey (Perkins) had one,” Tinsley said. “We knew we had to get into the paint and get to the free-throw line.”
In the absence of starting guard Trey Koehler, who is expected to miss at least six weeks with a foot injury, Perkins, a sophomore guard, chipped in with seven points, four assists and three steals, and sophomore center Mike Malone scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds.
“Now, we have different guys in different spots,” Bianchi said. “I must have run every offense we have. I could have stayed with the one that was working, but I wanted to see if they all knew where to go.”
A 7-0 spurt midway through the third quarter helped Abington Heights take a 49-21 lead.
“I told them to come out in the second half and forget the score,” Bianchi said. “Just keep running the offense and don’t take the first shot, take the first good, open shot.”
Shayne Merrifield led West Scranton (5-7, 0-4) with 16 points. Josh Hart added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Invaders.
Danzig was excited to help Bianchi move one step closer to a coaching milestone.
“We really wanted to get this accomplishment for him,” he said. “It’s a great honor and we just want to be a part of it.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.