DEFENDING CHAMPS HIT HARDWOOD
Koehler’s return sparks Comets’ opening night win Senior finishes with 16 points, 5 assists in first game back since foot injury.
S. ABINGTON TWP. — A restless Trey Koehler could barely get through the school day, eagerly awaiting the season opening basketball game at Abington Heights gymnasium.
Almost a year passed since the senior played with his teammates. A returning starter in 2017-18, a foot injury cut short his season and he missed out on playing during a memorable run by the Comets to the PIAA Class 5A championship.
After warmups Friday night, Koehler took his spot in the starting lineup. Dusting off some rust, he helped lead No. 1 Abington Heights to a 66-42 win over Pocono Mountain West in a nonleague boys basketball game.
“I kind of had butterflies like I did for my first ever game on varsity,” said Koehler, who started as a sophomore and also scored 96 points before being sidelined by his injury. “I could barely eat all day and couldn’t focus in school. I couldn’t even go to bed Thursday night because I was so excited.
“Coming up to the game, I was so nervous in warmups, but once I got out there, it was just amazing.”
Filled with adrenaline, Koehler missed his first two shots, which were just off the mark.
Once settled into the flow of what was at times a frenetic pace, he finished with 16 points and five assists, including a dazzling, no-look pass underneath the basket to center Mike Malone for an easy layup.
His 3-pointer with 3 minutes left in the first quarter gave the Comets a 10-3 lead and they weren’t threatened the rest of the way.
“At first, I was rushing my shots and my head was getting to me,” Koehler said. “Then, I started to dial in and I listened to coach and let the game come to me. “This was a really good team win for us.” As Koehler reacquainted himself with his teammates, Abington Heights steadied itself against a Pocono Mountain West team that launched 24 3-pointers, shot only 29 percent and had 21 turnovers in a game that never established a smooth flow of execution for either team.
George Tinsley, the reigning Times-tribune Player of the Year, scored a team-high 18 points and delivered his usual workmanlike effort inside by collecting 10 rebounds and swatting two shots.
The 6-foot-5, Binghamton University commit also connected on three 3-pointers with one coming at the end of the first quarter to give the Comets a 15-6 lead, and another at the buzzer of the third quarter to push the score to 47-28.
“In the first quarter, we only got a couple of buckets here and there, because of their pressure,” said Tinsley, who made 24 3-pointers in 32 games during last season’s run to a state title. “We had to get used to that. We made a couple of big plays, got a lead and kept it the whole game.”
Corey Perkins, another returning starter from last season’s team, helped the Comets create a more deliberate pace in the second half. He made all four of his shots in the second half and finished with 13 points and three steals.
Jack Nealon scored six of his nine points, and Perkins had four in the fourth and Abington Heights closed the game on a 9-1 run to win its 12th straight game dating back to Feb. 6.
“In the first half, I think we were kind of playing their game and playing too fast,” Perkins said. “We just wanted to come out in the second half, set up all our plays, play slow, take good shots and play good defense.”
Ishyne Pilgrim led Pocono Mountain West with 19 points and seven rebounds. Contact the writer: jb[email protected]rock.com; 570-348-9125; @sportstt on Twitter
Abington Heights’ Trey Koehler throws a no-look pass past Pocono Mountain West’s Ishyne Pilgrim.
Abington Heights’ George Tinsley, left, is fouled by Pocono Mountain West’s Laurian Duclair during Friday night’s game.