Abington Heights is back in the PIAA Class 5A semifinals thanks to the offense of Jackson Danzig. The senior scored 21 points, including the game-winning layup with 41.6 seconds left, to give the Comets a 49-48 victory over Chester in the second round. Then, in the quarterfinals against Northeastern, he came out and hit his first four shots and five of his first six — all 3-pointers — on his way to a career-high 38 points in a 76-56 win.
Here is more from Danzig’s interview:
Other sports I play: Soccer
Athletes I admire: Victor Oladipo. He was on Oklahoma City last year and wasn’t really the main guy. He got traded in the offseason to Indiana and he worked and now he’s the main player on the Pacers. He has that go-to, never-quit attitude and was an all-star this year. He really stepped up his game. It’s a great thing to look up to; that putting in hard work and effort, you’re able to change your game and your body into such a great athlete and great player.
Superstitions and rituals: I wear the same kind of socks every game. Other than that, sometimes I’ll eat Spaghetti-Os before a game.
Favorite food: Steaks my dad makes. They’re just so juicy and so good. That, mashed potatoes, gravy and some green beans. Delicious!
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: My dad’s mother. She passed away a long time ago. It would be nice to have one more dinner with her. And the rest of my grandparents (Hal Danzig, Linda and Randy Hessong). It’s always fun being around them.
What did it feel like to hit the game-winning layup? Once I made the shot, there was a bunch of relief. We got the lead again and all we had to do was stop them one more time and get the ball back. Knowing our defense, we were really confident in that.
You did miss a free throw with 9.4 seconds left to give Chester a final shot to win. What was going through your mind? Just to get back on defense to make sure we didn’t give up an easy bucket. I didn’t want to be the cause if I didn’t hustle that one play and it’s all over. So I made sure I got back and everyone else made sure they got back. George (Tinsley) contested the layup perfectly, (Mike) Malone was able to get a hand on (the ball) and tap it out and Jack (Nealon) was able to grab the rebound.
When you found out you scored 38 points against Northeastern, what was your reaction? Oh geez. That’s crazy. You dream about having big games like that. Once it happens, it’s like so surreal. You’re just grateful for it. Was that your career high? For high school. In AAU, I had 47.
You also had a key blocked shot in the third quarter of that game to help thwart a potential Northeastern rally and spark a 9-0 quarter-ending run that helped seal the victory: We turned the ball over and had to get back. Corey (Perkins) did a great job of taking that kid’s focus and making sure it was all on him. I was coming over from behind, just trying to contest it as much as possible. I blocked it. Malone was running back, grabbed the rebound and outleted it. I’m pretty sure we scored on a layup (Actually, Danzig hit a 3-pointer).
Back in the state semifinals for a second year in a row. Are you surprised by the team’s success, considering that a 7-footer graduated and another key player was lost to injury? Yes and no. We trust our team. Corey (Perkins) and Mike (Malone) have stepped up a lot this year, Jack (Nealon) has really stepped up a lot from coming off the bench last year. George (Tinsley) has kept up his momentum from last year as well. Trey (Koehler) has been a great leader off the court even though he’s not been playing because he’s hurt. He’s always helping us, picking us up, is always there for us. We all have a great bond. That really helps us out on the court. Since we all trust each other so much, our play has been able to excel.
What do you have to do to be successful in the state semifinal against Bonner-Prendergast and reach the final? Limit their shots, make sure we box out and just try to score every single possession. Make sure we take the best shots possible.
You’re going to the University of Scranton to continue your academic and athletic careers. Are you looking forward to playing for your father? It’s going to be great. From what my brothers told me. it’s not a cakewalk. You have to earn everything that happens. You have to work hard because he treats you just like everyone else. They enjoyed the process. On the court, he’s your coach and off the court, he’s your dad. It’s going to be great to be able to play for him.