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.

The Times-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOBY FAWCETT STAFF WRITER

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

JA­SON FARMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Abing­ton Heights’ Trey Koehler throws a no-look pass past Po­cono Moun­tain West’s Ishyne Pil­grim.

JA­SON FARMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Abing­ton Heights’ Ge­orge Tins­ley, left, is fouled by Po­cono Moun­tain West’s Lau­rian Du­clair dur­ing Fri­day night’s game.

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