On Tuesday, Abington Heights players and fans were probably still asking if what had happened the night before was in fact real.

Abington Heights defeated Bonner-Prendergast, 56-51, in overtime, surviving what is likely the most bizarre finish to a game witnessed or participated in. After seemingly salting away the game and punching a ticket to Hershey and the Giant Center, as is tradition, Hershey Kiss candy got launched onto the floor in a celebratory shower. The game, however, hadn’t ended. An official called a foul against Abington Heights as two players collided while chasing down a loose ball. Leading by 3 points, that foul did reward Bonner-Prendergast’s Michael Perretta two free throws with 1 tick remaining. And, because there was clearly candy on the floor, a technical foul was called. Now depending on who you talk to the technical was hung on the Abington Heights players for leaving the bench. But, again, the horn sounded and the clock had no time left.

Abington Heights’ Corey Perkins, left, and George Tinsley clean up Hershey’s Kisses thrown on the court during the PIAA 5A basketball semifinal against Bonner-Prendergast at Freedom High School in Bethlehem on Monday, March 19, 2018. Abington received a technical foul for objects being thrown on the court.
Christopher Dolan / Staff Photographer

 

 

 

Once the chaos and cleanup started, the real storm clouds started to brew. With a technical being handed down, that would give Bonner-Prendergast two additional free throws, and a chance to win a game, it should have had none sending Abington Heights fans, players and coaches into a somber state of disbelief. Perretta, who stood alone at the line, confidently drilled the first two. Each one had to feel like a painful pinching shot of novocaine into the gum from a dentist. Then, he stepped right back on the line and swished the third and the game was tied. Abington Heights players were agonizingly helpless. Jackson Danzig had the front of his jersey clenched between his teeth. George Tinsley turned away. Jack Nealon just hoped against all hope.

The fourth — and what would have been — the deciding free throw danced off the rim. Quickly, the Comets players shifted their emotions. They refocused. And showing the poise of a champion, Abington Heights stormed to the win by going 6 for 6 from the free throw line and continuing its dominant defensive effort..

 

From Scotty Walsh’s game story: 

 

“This is unreal, like a dream come true. We’ve all been dreaming about this since we were little kids. Now we’re in the state championship (game). It’s amazing, a great feeling. And we had to win it twice.”

 

 

— JACKSON DANZIG

 

Abington Heights’ Jackson Danzig (22) and George Tinsley celebrate after defeating Bonner-Prendergast in a PIAA Class 5A state championship semifinal game at Freedom High School in Bethlehem on Monday, March 19, 2018.
Christopher Dolan / Staff Photographer

 

 


 

 

THE ROAD TO HERSHEY

 

It’s been a remarkable trip for the Abington Heights Comets. The spotlight was on the program early because of coach Ken Bianchi’s pursuit of the all-time win record of 757 held by Julius Prezelski, then the Comets suffered the loss of a start player, and then battled all the way to a seventh straight district championship and a trip to the program’s first state final.

 

 

LEGENDARY COACH

 

 

 

Year

School

Record

67–68

Line Mountain

9–10

76–77

Scranton Tech

8–16

77–78

Scranton Tech

15–10

78–79

Scranton Tech

10–15

79–80

Scranton Tech

11–15

80–81

Scranton Tech

19–9

81–82

Scranton Tech

26–10

82–83

Scranton Tech

15–9

83–84

Scranton Tech

18–9

84–85

Scranton Tech

17–9

85–86

Scranton Tech

6–16

86–87

Scranton Tech

13–10

87–88

Scranton Tech

19–5

88–89

Scranton Tech

21–6

89–90

Scranton Tech

10–15

90–91

Scranton Tech

13–10

91–92

West Scranton

6–15

92–93

West Scranton

12–13

93–94

West Scranton

13–11

94–95

West Scranton

15–9

95–96

West Scranton

5–17

96–97

Abington Heights

17–8

97–98

Abington Heights

26–5

98–99

Abington Heights

20–8

99–00

Abington Heights

23–5

00–01

Abington Heights

15–10

01–02

Abington Heights

25–3

02–03

Abington Heights

21–4

03–04

Abington Heights

20–6

04–05

Abington Heights

21–4

05–06

Abington Heights

19–7

06–07

Abington Heights

22–6

07–08

Abington Heights

22–7

08–09

Abington Heights

23–3

09–10

Abington Heights

29–3

10–11

Abington Heights

16–11

11–12

Abington Heights

24–6

12–13

Abington Heights

27–3

13–14

Abington Heights

26–2

14–15

Abington Heights

22–4

15–16

Abington Heights

23–3

16–17

Abington Heights

25–4

17–18

Abington Heights

26–3

Total

773–354

 

 


 

 

A LOOK BACK

 

 

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Abington Heights 72, Holy Cross 32

 

Koehler

At Abington Heights, George Tinsley hit five 3-pointers and scored 25 points to lead the top-ranked (Comets.
Trey Koehler and Jackson Danzig each added 13 points for the winners.
Caleb Callejas scored 10 points for No. 4 Holy Cross.

NOTE: Holy Cross is playing in the PIAA Class 2A Semifinals.

 


 

 

Abington Heights 66, Harrisburg 63

 

Tinsley.

George Tinsley shot 14 of 16 from the field and scored 31 points to lead No. 1 Abington Heights to a 66-63 win over Harrisburg at the Play by Play Classics holiday event at Berks Catholic High School in Reading on Wednesday.
“We knew coming in it would be a fast-paced game and we couldn’t have too many turnovers,” said Tinsley, who is a 6-foot-5, forward and returning All-Region player. “It got tougher at the end, but we pulled through.
“My shots were falling, so I kept taking it to the hoop.”
Jackson Danzig had 20 points and eight assists for the Comets, who earned coach Ken Bianchi his 754th career win.
Penn State football recruit Micah Parsons scored 14 points for Harrisburg. According to Play By Play Classics’ Twitter account, Parsons “appeared to roll ankle pretty badly on last play.”

 


 

Abington Heights 67, West Scranton 47

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

SCRANTON — Abington Heights left no doubt Friday would be a night to celebrate.
The Comets scored the game’s first 15 points and rolled past West Scranton to give coach Ken Bianchi his 757th career win, tying Julius Prezelski as the area’s all-time boys basketball wins leader. 
Jackson Danzig scored a game-high 20 points and George Tinsley added 19 points and 12 rebounds as the top-ranked Abington Heights defeated the Invaders, 67-47, in the Lackawanna League Division I game at Scranton High School.
“It really hasn’t set in yet,” Bianchi said. “I’ve just been around so long that (the wins) add up, you don’t even realize it. It’s just the longevity that contributed to most of it.”
That the record-tying win for Bianchi came against West Scranton was somewhat fitting. Starting in 1991, he coached the Invaders and won 51 games in five seasons.

He also won 10 games in one season at Line Mountain; 221 games in 15 seasons at Scranton Tech; and 475 games in 22 seasons at Abington Heights.
Prezelski amassed his total in 42 seasons as coach at Waymart, Milford, Mountain View and Forest City high schools.
After the game, West Scranton and coach Jack Lyons presented Bianchi with a plaque commemorating the milestone. Jeff McLane also received one for his years as Bianchi’s longtime assistant coach.

 

 

 


 

 

Abington Heights 68, Scranton 56

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

SCRANTON — This is how you become the area’s winningest boys basketball coach. By making the right move at the right time.
With Abington Heights and Scranton tied late in the second quarter Friday night, the Knights were holding for the final shot of the first half. 
That’s when Comets coach Ken Bianchi called for his team to pressure the ball. It produced a steal that sparked a game-changing run and sent Abington Heights on its way to a 68-56 victory in a Lackawanna League Division I game at Scranton High School.
The win was No. 758 in Bianchi’s 43-year career, breaking the previous record of 757 set by Julius Prezelski, who coached 42 seasons at Waymart, Milford, Mountain View and Forest City high schools.

 

 


 

Abington Heights 67, Scranton Prep 47

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

Danzig

S. ABINGTON TWP. — After withstanding the impressive offensive display by Scranton Prep’s Leo O’Boyle in the first half, Abington Heights put on a defensive clinic in the second half.
The Comets held the Cavaliers scoreless for almost eight minutes and reeled off 21 consecutive points during that stretch to rally for a 67-47 victory in a Lackawanna League Division I showdown Tuesday night.
George Tinsley scored 31 points to lead No. 2 Abington Heights (15-2 overall, 8-1 league). Jackson Danzig added 17 points and six assists and Corey Perkins had 11 points as the Comets won their seventh straight game, stopped Scranton Prep’s 11-game winning streak and avenged a loss to the top-ranked Cavaliers three weeks earlier.
O’Boyle finished with 27 points for Scranton Prep — 22 of which came in the first half on 8-for-10 shooting, including 6 of 6 from 3-point range.
Wes Simons chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers (13-4, 8-1) and Brian Boland had five assists.
However, Abington Heights’ defense limited Scranton Prep to 18 second-half points on 5-for-21 shooting from the field and forced nine turnovers (15 overall).
“I’m proud of the way we came back,” Abington Heights coach Ken Bianchi said. “I told them at halftime, for the way we played (in the first half), we were extremely lucky to be down six. But they came out (in the second half) and executed.”

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

Abington Heights 65, Scranton 45

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

CLARKS SUMMIT — All season, Abington Heights boys basketball coach Ken Bianchi has talked about the importance of getting contributions from the three players on the floor besides George Tinsley and Jackson Danzig.
With a title at stake Tuesday night, the supporting cast came through for the Comets in a big way.
Danzig led four players in double figures with 21 points as No. 1 Abington Heights rolled to a 65-45 victory over No. 3 Scranton, clinching the Lackawanna League Division I championship.
But Jack Nealon added 12 points on four 3-pointers along with three assists and two steals for the Comets (19-3 overall, 12-1 league). Mike Malone had 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting and Corey Perkins chipped in (10 points, six rebounds, three steals and two assists.

 

2017-18 Lackawanna League Division I Champions

 

 

 

 


 

 

Abington Heights’ Jack Nealon moves the ball past Dallas’ Jay Bittner during the PIAA District 2 Class 5A basketball championship at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Christopher Dolan / Staff Photographer

 

 

 

 

2017-18 DISTRICT 2 CLASS 5A CHAMPIONS

 

 

 

 


 

PIAA CLASS 5A TOURNAMENT

Abington Heights 75, Garden Spot 47

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

Derry

SCRANTON — When he checks into the game, Alex Derry knows what his role is.
On Friday night, the Abington Heights senior performed it to perfection.
Derry drew a pair of offensive fouls against Garden Spot’s leading scorer Jordan Shewbridge — the second of which swung momentum in the Comets’ favor for good — as they rolled to a 75-47 win over the Spartans in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs at Scranton High School.
He also contributed five points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.
Jackson Danzig led four Abington Heights players in double figures with 18 points. George Tinsley finished one assist shy of a triple-double: 15 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists. Jack Nealon continued his hot shooting, hitting five 3-pointers for 15 points, while Corey Perkins added 11 points.
All agreed, though, that Derry’s play was the difference in helping District 2 champion Abington Heights advance to Tuesday’s second round. 
“That was a huge energy change,” Tinsley said. “Once we got those two charges, it slowed (Shewbridge) down a little bit and they weren’t driving as much. We just took over from there.”

 


 

 

Abington Heights 49, Chester 48

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

BETHLEHEM — Survive and advance.
At this time of the basketball season, those are the only two words teams care about. 
Those were the only words Abington Heights coach Ken Bianchi wanted to hear.
His team squandered a 17-point lead, but somehow survived to defeat Chester, 49-48, in the PIAA Class 5A second round at Bethlehem Liberty High School’s Memorial Gymnasium.
Senior Jackson Danzig scored a game-high 21 points, including the game-winning layup with 41.6 seconds left. 
He did, however, miss the front end of a one-and-one with 9.4 seconds to go, giving Chester a chance to win it. But Brian Randolph III ‘s layup was no good, and AbingtonHeights advanced to the state quarterfinals Friday against Northeastern, which won its second-round game, 63-60, over Penncrest.
“That’s the only thing I’m pleased about,” Bianchi said. “We survived and we have another game.”
Last year, in the state quarterfinals, Abington Heights outlasted Chester in double overtime, 65-61, behind Danzig’s 30 points. 

 


 

 

Abington Heights 76, Northeastern 56

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

Abington Heights’ Jackson Danzig puts in three against Northeastern at Martz Hall.
Andy Matsko / Staff Photographer

POTTSVILLE — Abington Heights boys basketball team is headed back to the state semifinals, thanks to the hot hand of Jackson Danzig.
The senior scored 38 points to power the Comets to a 76-56 victory over Northeastern in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals at Martz Hall.
George Tinsley added 17 points and Jack Nealon chipped in 13 for Abington Heights (25-3). It is the ninth straight win for the District 2 champions.
On Monday, the Comets will face Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast in the semifinals at a time and site to be determined. The District 12 champions won their quarterfinal game Friday, 71-61, over Allentown Central Catholic.
Antonio Rizzuto led Northeastern, the No. 3 seed from District 2, with 22 points. Fred Mulbah added 13.
Danzig shot 10 for 14 from the field, including 8 for 11 from 3-point range. He also hit 10 of 12 free throws.

 

 

 


 

 

Abington Heights 56, Bonner-Prendergast 51, OT

 

BY SCOTT WALSH

 

BETHLEHEM — George Tinsley spent more than 11 minutes on the bench in foul trouble. Corey Perkins joined him there for about 61/2 minutes for the same reason.
Yet despite playing without two starters for long stretches, Abington Heights found a way — twice.
The Comets survived the foul trouble and a controversial technical foul at the end of regulation Monday to defeat Philadelphia Catholic League power Bonner-Prendergast, 56-51, in overtime in the PIAA Class 5A semifinals at Freedom High School.
Abington Heights (26-3) will play for its first state championship in basketball Friday at 8 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey against District 7 champion Mars, which beat Milton Hershey in the other semifinal, 62-61. 
Tinsley led Abington Heights with 18 points and eight rebounds. Jackson Danzig added 15 points and Jack Nealon had 14 points.

 

 

 


 

 

The Team

 

 

Scoring

Player

Points

Avg.

George Tinsley

517

17.8

Jackson Danzig

507

17.5

Trey Koehler

96

13.7

Jack Nealon

200

6.9

Corey Perkins

177

6.1

Mike Malone

100

3.4

Alex Derry

58

2.1

Harry Johnson

39

1.9

Tucker Schimelfenig

20

1.0

Garrett Plantz

20

1.0

Free throw percentage

Player

FM–FT

Pct.

Trey Koehler

15–18

0.83

Jackson Danzig

75–99

0.76

Tucker Schimelfenig

6–8

0.75

Corey Perkins

23–31

0.74

Jack Nealon

27–39

0.69

George Tinsley

68–99

0.69

Harry Johnson

9–14

0.64

Jimmy Lefchak

3–5

0.60

Drew Nealon

2–4

0.50

Alex Derry

11–26

0.42

Mike Malone

12–33

0.36

Garrett Plantz

1–4

0.25

Aiden Demkowich

1–5

0.20

3-point shooting

Player

3-pointers

Avg.

Jackson Danzig

74

2.6

Trey Koehler

11

1.6

Jack Nealon

41

1.4

Corey Perkins

26

0.9

George Tinsley

24

0.8

Drew Nealon

3

0.1

Garrett Plantz

1

0.1

Andrew Keris

1

0.1

 

 

 

 


 

 

STATE HISTORY

 

(Courtesy of Rich Rhoades of d9sports.com and Rod Frisco and piaa.org)