Pittston Area entered the District 2 Class AAA title game with a lot of momentum, coming off upset wins over second-seeded Crestwood and third-seeded GAR, but Abington Heights took control of the game from the opening tip.
The top-seed Comets scored the first eight points of the game and held the Patriots without a point until Tyler McGarry hit a 3-pointer with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
Abington Heights limited Pittston Area to just two field goals in the second half and cruised to a 67-28 win at the Lackawanna College Student Union in Scranton Friday night.
Abington Heights (25-1) will play District 4 runner-up Shamokin or Central Columbia in the first-round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs on March 7.
“We wanted to come out fast,” Comets senior guard J.C. Show said. “We knew they’ve been really hot. We just wanted it so bad. We had high expectations coming in and we just try to take one step at a time and give everything we have for each other.”
Pittston Area’s Hassan Maxwell hit a 3-pointer to pull the Patriots within two points of the lead late in the first quarter, but Abington Heights quickly regained control of the game by scoring the next nine points.
“We fought back a little bit,” Pittston Area head coach Alan Kiesinger said. “Then, they got away from us again. They have so much firepower and the game got too far out of control.”
Abington Heights 6-foot-10 senior Evan Maxwell, who scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked two shots, finished an alley-oop from Show with an emphatic slam to end the first half.
“It’s pretty special to be a part of this team,” Maxwell said.
Show, who finished with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, scored 12 in the third quarter when the Comets stretched their lead to 31. Show, who also contributed six of the team’s 15 assists credited the team’s unselfishness for their efficiency on offense.
“We just wanted to create shots for each other,” Show said. “We felt the more we’re trying to create for each other, the better shots we will get. We want to draw defenders and kick the ball out to an open guy or dump it inside, and I think that’s what we were able to do for the most part.”
Abington Heights prided itself on tough defense all year and captured it’s third consecutive district title, the first time the school has accomplished that feat in its history.
Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi believes the group’s team first mentality has contributed to their success.
“Anytime you talk to any of them, it’s always ‘we,’” Bianchi said. “They won’t say I did this or I had a good game, it’s we did this, we did that. They come to practice every day and work hard. Our first goal was to win the league, we did that. Then, we wanted to win the district and we did that. Now, we’ll see what happens in the state tournament.”
The Comets swarming man-to-man defense created 12 turnovers and held Pittston Area (18-8) to 12 second-half points.
“We wanted to pressure them and not let them get into their offense,” Show said. “We were able to do that and get some transition buckets. We’re a good defensive team. We’re big, we’re long and we have decent quickness to keep guys in front of us.”