By TOM ROBINSON, NEPABasketball.com
HAZLETON – Susquehanna and Abington Heights each led most of the way Tuesday night.
That does not mean that getting through the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association boys basketball second round was easy for either team.
Susquehanna fought off a series of comebacks on a night when it never trailed to defeat Lancaster Country Day, 57-54, in a Class A game at Hazleton Area High School.
Abington Heights had its lead get away before rallying past Chester, 49-48, in Class 5A at Bethlehem Liberty High School.
The Sabers reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1999 and just the second time in school history.
The Comets are one win from making their second straight state semifinal appearance.
District 2-11 Subregional champion Susquehanna (19-8) will play District 4 champion Shamokin Lourdes Regional (24-4) Friday night at 7 at Wyoming Area High School. Lourdes beat Sankofa Freedom Academy from Philadelphia, 57-49, Tuesday.
District 2 champion Abington Heights (24-3) will face District 3 third-place finisher Northeastern York (27-3) Friday at Pottsville’s Martz Hall at 7:30. Northeastern York knocked out District 1 champion Penncrest, 63-60, Tuesday night.
District 2 teams went 3-5 on the night, including 2-3 in boys and 1-2 in girls.
CLASS 5A BOYS
Abington Heights and Chester did not quite repeat last year’s double-overtime classic which the Comets won in the state quarterfinal.
There was, however, still plenty of drama.
Jackson Danzig scored 21 points, including the game-winning drive to the basket in the final minute after Chester had overcome a 17-point, third-quarter deficit.
Chester had a shot at the potential game-winner in the closing seconds, but could not convert.
George Tinsley added 11 points in the win. Danzig also grabbed 9 rebounds.
Chester turned a 40-23 deficit into a 48-47 lead in less than eight minutes, but then did not score again for more than three minutes to end the game.
Dallas was the team that found itself in a double-overtime game.
The Mountaineers eventually fell short, 61-59, against District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic at Hazleton Area.
Keeshawn Kellman, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, and Jay Vaughan, who made three of four 3-point attempts in the first half, each had 15 points for the Vikings.
Matt Mathers led Dallas with 14 points. Jay Bittner added 13 points, including the 3-pointer that gave Dallas a 56-55 lead with 1:09 left in the second overtime. Alex Charlton made his last nine free throws, all after halftime, to finish with 12 points.
“I’m very proud of the season they had,” Dallas coach Mark Belenski said after the Mountaineers finished 21-6 and matched two squads from more than a quarter century ago as the only Dallas teams to reach the second round of the state tournament. “I think they put Dallas basketball back on the map.”
CLASS 4A BOYS
District 2 finalists Scranton Prep and Valley View both had their seasons come to an end.
Defending state champion Imhotep Charter ended the Scranton Prep season for the third time in four years with a 44-32 victory at Bethlehem Liberty.
Berks Catholic defeated Valley View, 56-36, at Berwick High School.
Both winning teams improved to 28-2.
Scranton Prep, the district champion, finished 21-6. The Cavaliers struggled with leading scorer Leo O’Boyle in foul trouble and were held to four points each in the first and third quarters.
Luis Garcia scored 20 points while Keba Mitchell had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots for District 3 champion Berks Catholic.
Valley View finished 17-10.
CLASS A BOYS
Bryce Baldwin and Mason Deakin each scored 20 points to lead Susquehanna.
Baldwin, who scored 13 in the first half, grabbed 10 rebounds.
With Baldwin going 6-for-9, the Sabers shot 56.5 percent (13-for-23) in the first half.
“We knew they were going to play man,” Susquehanna coach Lawrence Tompkins said. “We thought if we ran our sets, we’d be able to get good looks at the basket.”
Deakin returned from being academically ineligible for the past two games to also provide seven rebounds and six assists. He finished strong after being held to a point in the first quarter. He was 4-for-6 from the line in the last 19.1 seconds.
Eric Lee had 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Travis Craig had four assists, hit one of two free throws with 32.9 seconds left on his only shots of the game and again made his biggest contributions on defense. After Andrew Williams scored 17 first-half points for Lancaster Country Day, Craig harassed him all over the court in the second half, allowing just 4 points.
CLASS 3A GIRLS
Dunmore won, but Holy Redeemer was eliminated.
Kelly Quinn scored 20 points and made 5 steals to lead Dunmore past Mount Carmel, 52-47, at Hazleton Area.
District 1 champion St. Basil Academy eliminated Holy Redeemer, 38-26, in Bethlehem.
Sam Yencha had a team-high eight points for the Royals, who finished 23-5.
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Minersville held off a late Old Forge comeback to win 59-48 at Berwick.
The Lady Devils finished 13-13.