Facing a 12-point halftime deficit against the number-two ranked team in the state, Abington Heights battled back with a 12-2 run in the third quarter to cut the lead to five points, but Archbishop Carroll held on for a 59-55 win over the Comets in a PIAA Class AAA boys basketball clash at Parkland High School in Allentown Tuesday night.
Archbishop Carroll junior forward Derrick Jones scored seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a critical three-point play in the final minute when his team was trailing by a point.
“I apologized to him because we went away from him,” Archbishop Carroll head coach Paul Romanczuk said. “I should have stepped up earlier and got him the basketball in better situations. We made that adjustment during one of the timeouts, and he responded and played great.”
With the Comets trailing 38-26 with 6:30 left in the third quarter, Abington Heights senior guard J.C. Show started the comeback attempt with a three-point play. After a basket by Patriots center Ernest Aflakpui, Ethan Danzig and Joe Carroll each knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to three points with 4:42 left in the third.
“We knew we had to give it everything we had,” Danzig said. “We were down 12, they got up on us quick and we were hanging our heads a little bit, but we knew that if we wanted to compete, we would need to start making plays. We did that, we just couldn’t put it away.”
Carroll hit another 3-pointer to tie the score at 49 late in the fourth quarter and Show, who finished with 17 points and six assists, converted a three-point play to cap a 10-2 and give Abington Heights (27-1) a 52-49 lead with 3:23 left in the game.
“It was all heart,” Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi said. “They had a lot of talent, but we had the heart and we fought back and went up three.
“I’m just so proud of our guys. The season they had was remarkable. We had four guys starting for the first time and they all blended together. I told them, don’t let this defeat take away from the season that we had.”
Samir Taylor made two free throws and Josh Sharkey added another in the final seconds to seal the win for the Patriots.
“We battled them,” Show said, “but it was tough playing against their size and athleticism. I thought we handled it pretty well, unfortunately, we just didn’t make enough shots.”