SCRANTON- Abington Heights senior center Jason Bamford is usually known for his exploits on the defensive end of the court. On March 1, it was Bamford’s offense that led the Comets to a 58-37 win over Wilkes-Barre GAR in the District 2 Class AAA championship game at Scranton High School.
“We needed a big game from him,” Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi said. “They looked for him, he was open and he delivered. He got his first two shots blocked, but rather than go into a shell he kept attacking.”
Bamford scored eight of his game-high 25 points in the first quarter when the Comets jumped out to a 18-6 lead. GAR was held scoreless the first 3:52 of the game. Bamford also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots.
“Our guards gave me the ball and we found some holes in the zone,” Bamford said. “We ran the floor well and knocked down shots when we needed to.”
Abington Heights stretched its lead to 22-9 in the second quarter before GAR scored 11 straight points to cut the Comets lead to 22-20. Abington Heights scored the final four points of the quarter to secure a 26-20 halftime lead.
“We just got away from what we wanted to do in the second quarter,” Bianchi said. “We got 3-point shot happy. Sometimes it’s hard teaching them clock management.”
J.C. Show, who finished 13 points, six rebounds and five assists, hit a pair of 3-pointers and T.J. Murray added six of his 10 points in the third quarter as the Comets increased their lead to 16 points.
Bamford finished his strong offensive effort with eight points in the fourth quarter.
According to Bianchi, the Comets were focused on working the ball inside the paint.
“That’s the plan every game,” he said. “It’s much easier to score from five feet than on 3-pointers. Our inside guys are pretty good passers and look for each other.”
The constant inside pressure caused GAR’s Christian Skrepenak to get in foul trouble. He picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter and did not score in the final quarter.
“Coming out in the second half, we knew that if we attacked him offensively, and ran the floor and got him tired, we could work into their bench. We executed…made the extra pass and we were able to get easy baskets.”
Bamford and Murray combined to hold Skrepenak to four points.
“He’s a great player,” Bamford said. “He’s much bigger and stronger than I am. I just tried to stay in front of him and run the floor well.”
Abington Heights (25-2) will play Shikellamy in the first round of the PIAA playofs March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lackawanna College Student Union building.
“We came out focused and had a lot of emotion,” Murray said. “We had a little let down in the second quarter with a couple turnovers. Coming out for the second half, our first five said we’re going to do this for one another. We just played Abington Heights basketball.”
Isaiah Francis led the Grenadiers with 14 points and five rebounds. Darius Washington added eight points and four rebounds for the Grenadiers.