SCRANTON – Abington Heights attacked Shikellamy from every angle Friday night, combining accurate 3-point shooting with the ability to get to the rim.
When it was over, the District 2 champion Comets provided more evidence of their potential to contend on the state level by advancing to the second round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAA boys basketball tournament with a 67-37 rout of the Braves at the Lackawanna College Student Union.
Jamie Egan led the incredible shooting night by hitting all five of his attempts, including four from 3-point range, while topping a balanced attack with 14 points.
Egan opened the fourth quarter by assisting baskets from T.J. Murray, J.C. Show and Kevin Elwell in the first 1:10. He then headed for the bench, beginning a parade of Abington Heights substitutions with the Comets in front, 58-25.
“We worked really hard to get that lead and to get everyone on the bench some time,” said Egan, who finished with five assists. “It was a fun game to get everyone in there.”
The players waited in the locker room after the game for coach Ken Bianchi to arrive so they could celebrate his 650th career victory.
The Comets, who were scheduled to continue in the second round Tuesday night against Philadelphia Electric in Bethlehem, can expect the challenges to become significantly tougher from here.
“Every game, we have to improve,” Egan said. “It gets tougher and tougher.”
Getting through the first round was not difficult for long.
Shikellamy’s only lead came when Ernie Tyler, who scored a team-high 15 points, hit a 3-pointer on the team’s first possession.
Egan answered 20 seconds later, then Murray converted a three-point play and Elwell hit a 3-point shot to put the Comets ahead to stay, 9-3.
Abington Heights scored the last five points of the first quarter, including another 3-pointer by Elwell with a second left, for an 18-10 lead.
The Comets turned the game into a blowout by outscoring the Braves, 31-4, from one minute into the second quarter until two minutes remained in the third.
Show started the stretch with a long 3-pointer and Egan ended it with another for a 51-18 lead.
“We moved the ball around real well, got open shots and I just made them; everyone did,” Egan said.
On his way to a 12-point, six-assist effort, Show scored the first seven points in a 17-2 finish to the first half.
The Comets then opened the second half with a 14-2 advantage helped by two of Egan’s 3-pointers.
“They were better than us in every way,” Shikellamy coach Tim Foor said. ”They were bigger and stronger and they shot the ball very well.”
Abington Heights went 9-for-15 (60 percent) on 3-pointers and 17-for-23 (73.9 percent) from inside the arc with the help of dunks by Jason Bamford and Evan Maxwell.
The Comets allowed the Braves just five rebounds in the first half while leading 24-12 on the boards for the game.
“Our big men did real well on defense, got points inside and got us rebounds,” Egan said.
Murray had 11 points while Elwell had 10, along with four assists. Bamford led with nine rebounds and two blocked shots while Nathan Hollander had three steals.
“They’re the fourth-ranked team in the state for a reason,” Foor said.