Joe Carroll knows all about Abington Heights’ rivalry with Scranton Prep from his days as a wide receiver on the Comets football team.
The senior forward played a big role in his first substantial action in a hoops clash between the two schools.
“We knew that it was going to be a battle,” Carroll said. “We heard about how great Prep’s offense was and we stressed, all week, that defense was the key.”
Carroll scored six of his 11 points in the first half, but his most important points of the game came on three foul shots in the closing minutes of overtime.
Abington Heights (8-0) had made just six of 17 free throws in the game before Carroll and J.C. Show combined to hit six of eight from the foul line in the final 2:21 of overtime to seal the Comets 58-52 win over Scranton Prep, in a battle of unbeaten teams, in the Lackawanna League Division 1 opener for both teams on Jan. 4.
“In the beginning, we were all a little off at the free throw line,” Carroll said, “but in the end when it really counted we came through.”
Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi felt comfortable with Carroll stepping to the stripe in a key situation.
“The pressure was nothing new to him,” Bianchi said. “He’s gone through pressure games in the playoffs in other sports. Those are the kind of guys that you want on your team.”
Scranton Prep (9-1) held a 27-20 advantage at the end of the first half after the Cavaliers ended the second quarter on a 7-3 run. Tim Rose, who led the Cavaliers with 16 points, scored nine in the half to help build the lead.
Show, a first-team All-State selection last year, scored the Comets’ first eight points of the third quarter as part of a 10-4 run. The senior guard scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the third to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 37-36.
“We just had to turn it around,” Show said. “We weathered the storm a little bit in the first half. They came out and hit us, but we kept playing together and fighting.”
The offensive spark also ignited the capacity crowd, specifically the Abington Heights student section.
“The ‘Blue Crew’ is fantastic,” Bianchi said, “and our kids feed off that. It seems like they get psyched up and give a little bit extra.”
The Comets continued their comeback in the fourth quarter with a 6-2 run over the first 2:13. Tim Toro, who finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, scored with 41.2 seconds left to give Abington Heights a 50-48 lead, but Prep’s Noah Beh converted two free throws with 5 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
“We knew we had to keep the game low scoring,” Bianchi said. “We accomplished that and I though we did a lot better job playing defense in the second half.”