HERSHEY — Abington Heights defeated Mars, 67-55, to win the first-ever boys basketball championship in school history March 27 at the GIANT Center.
“It means everything for the school because they never had one before and neither have I,” Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi said.
The District 2 champion Comets (27-3) shot 14-18 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to seal the Class 5A title win over the District 7 champion Fightin’ Planets (25-5).
Abington Heights’ George Tinsley, who scored the 1,000th point of his career in the game, finished with 29 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The junior scored 19 of his points in the second half.
“It’s hard to shoot here and we knew that coming in,” Tinsley said. “At the beginning of the second half, I started taking it to the rack a little bit more.”
Three other players also scored in double figures for Abington Heights.
Junior guard Jack Nealon had 13 points and four assists, sophomore guard Corey Perkins chipped in with 11 points and two assists, and senior guard Jackson Danzig contributed 11 points and four assists.
“We came out and put it all on the line for each other,” Danzig said. “It was our last game, so we knew we had to give it all we had to win.”
Perkins hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter to help Abington Heights build a 17-15 lead.
“The kid left me open, so I made him pay for it,” Perkins said. “I just kept shooting and making them.”
Mars’ Anthony Recchia connected on two 3-pointers in the second quarter and the Fightin’ Planets led 25-24 at the half.
Abington Heights started the second half on a 9-0 run, courtesy of a 3-pointer from Danzig followed by back-to-back 3’s from Jack Nealon.
Danzig fouled out with 5:23 left in the fourth quarter with the Comets leading by six. Despite the disappointment of leaving the game, he had full confidence in his squad.
“Everyone had big games,” Danzig said. “George had an amazing game, Jack had an amazing game, and Drew (Nealon) came up huge off the bench once I fouled out. It’s one of those things that you can rely on our entire team to make plays.
“I trusted my team and I knew I had to be a leader from the bench. It was the longest five minutes of my life, but we did it.”
Tinsley had 11 points and four rebounds in the fourth to keep Abington Heights ahead. Jack Nealon also knocked down 5 of 6 free throws in the final quarter for the Comets.
“When Jackson went out, George just took over the game,” Bianchi said.
Notre Dame recruit Robby Carmody led Mars with 34 points, 27 in the second half. Recchia and Brandon Caruso each scored nine for the Fightin’ Planets.
Danzig appreciated the outpouring of support from the Abington Heights faithful.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” he said. “”We had a huge turnout from the whole community.”