Strong defensive effort helps Abington Heights rout ‘Paupack in D2-5A semis

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com
Abington Heights’ Alex Derry makes a move to the basket as Wallenpaupack’s Gabriel Springer defends during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School. - Stephanie Walkowski | For Abington Journal
Abington Heights’ Jack Nealon drives past Wallenpaupack’s Elijah Rosenthal during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School. - Stephanie Walkowski | For Abington Journal
Abington Heights’ George Tinsley, who scored a game-high 27 points, goes up for a dunk after making a steal during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School. - Stephanie Walkowski | For Abington Journal

SCRANTON — Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi was impressed with his team’s defensive pressure in a 58-19 win over Wallenpaupack in a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School.

The Comets held Wallenpaupack scoreless in the first quarter and to just seven first-half points.

Bianchi was not as happy with the team’s offensive execution.

Abington Heights made just 3 of 14 shots from three-point range in the first half.

“I liked the defensive effort, but we took too many three-point shots,” Bianchi said. “You can’t take 14 3’s in a half and we should have never taken another 3 when they took the big guy out. The ball has to go inside and we got a little better in the second half.

“The defense I was pleased with, not the offense.”

No. 1 seed Abington Heights (21-3) will play No. 2 seed Dallas (20-4), a 52-50 winner over No. 3 Crestwood, at 8 p.m. March 2 at Mohegan Sun Area in the district title game.

Bianchi stressed the Comets will need to be more efficient in order to come out on top.

“It’s going to take better a effort than we had tonight…that’s for sure,” he said.

The Comets forced Wallenpaupack into 10 of their 22 turnovers in the first quarter and led 12-0.

Jackson Danzig scored five of his seven points in the second quarter when Abington Heights stretched its lead to 15.

Jack Nealon had two of his four steals in the quarter to spark the Comets’ defensive charge.

Abington Heights’ Corey Perkins went 3-for-4 from the field and scored eight points in the third after missing all six of his shots in the first half and the Comets built a 39-12 advantage.

“My coaches kept telling me to keep shooting because they knew they would eventually fall, and I knew that, too,” Perkins said. “I just kept taking my shots because I knew I was going to come out and shoot better in the second half.”

The sophomore guard is eager to take the floor at Mohegan Sun Arena as the Comets will try to win a seventh consecutive district championship.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this team,” Perkins said. “Seven straight is a big deal. We’re going to go out and play our hardest.”

George Tinsley, who finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, scored 16 in the second half.

“We noticed we weren’t making the (outside) shots, so we had to change it up and get to the rack,” Tinsley said.

Tinsley scored seven consecutive points to end the third quarter, including a dunk off a steal, and added nine more in the fourth.

“The defensive steals created easier shots,” Tinsley said. “I got a lot of energy and I just had to keep going.”

Tinsley, who scored 12 points in Abington Heights’ win over West Scranton in the district title game last year, is excited to return to the arena.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s awesome to play there.”

Gabriel Springer led No. 4 seed Wallenpaupack (12-12) with four points, six rebounds and five blocks.

Abington Heights’ Alex Derry makes a move to the basket as Wallenpaupack’s Gabriel Springer defends during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-AH-Derry-1.jpgAbington Heights’ Alex Derry makes a move to the basket as Wallenpaupack’s Gabriel Springer defends during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School. Stephanie Walkowski | For Abington Journal

Abington Heights’ Jack Nealon drives past Wallenpaupack’s Elijah Rosenthal during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-AH-Nealon-1.jpgAbington Heights’ Jack Nealon drives past Wallenpaupack’s Elijah Rosenthal during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School. Stephanie Walkowski | For Abington Journal

Abington Heights’ George Tinsley, who scored a game-high 27 points, goes up for a dunk after making a steal during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-AH-Tinsley-1.jpgAbington Heights’ George Tinsley, who scored a game-high 27 points, goes up for a dunk after making a steal during a District 2 Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game Feb. 23 at Scranton High School. Stephanie Walkowski | For Abington Journal

By Robert Tomkavage

rtomkavage@timesleader.com

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.