By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
SCRANTON – Jack Nealon put the ball in all the right places, then his teammates put it in the basket.
The Abington Heights senior point guard dished out a career-high 12 assists Friday on a night when the Comets were hitting 63.4 percent of their shots while opening the state Class 5A tournament with a 72-48 victory over Pottsgrove at Scranton High School.
Abington Heights won the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 5A state championship a year ago and were impressive while moving within four games of a title repeat.
They were over 70 percent for the second half before a meaningless 3-point attempt by a reserve at the final buzzer and wound up 30-for-47 for the game.
Nealon posted his dozen assists by finding every teammate he shared time with for a basket at least once.
“Jack is the perfect point guard,” said George Tinsley, the Comets’ all-state forward and Binghamton University recruit. “He can knock down the open shots when they’re there for him and you see him finishing at the hoop.
“And, all season, especially tonight, he’s been dishing out really good passes. Sometimes, it’s about the shot, but sometimes it’s more about the pass going into it if it’s right there in that perfect pocket. He’s really good at finding that.”
Nealon’s teammates responded by all hitting more than half their shots.
Trey Koehler was 11-for-15 while finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots.
George Tinsley went 8-for-13, including 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, to finish with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Corey Perkins was 5-for-8 while scoring 12 points.
Mike Malone made all three of his shots while adding six points and six rebounds.
Sixth man Drew Nealon made his only shot.
“Obviously, my teammates are going to draw (defenders) to them,” Nealon said. “Trey and George are the best two players in the state, so the lane kind of opened up for me. If I can just draw help and get them open shots, they’re going to knock them down, which is what they did.
“But it wasn’t just them. I got Corey going to the basket, Malone inside and Jack on the press break. It was a great team effort.”
Koehler and Perkins scored four points each when Abington Heights ran off 10 straight points to erase the last Pottsgrove lead and take a 14-7 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
A Tinsley three-point play and two Koehler baskets sparked a nine-point streak to a 51-33 lead late with a minute left in the third quarter. Another six in a row in less than a minute early in the fourth quarter made it 57-36.
Manny Clark and Khaliym Smith scored 17 points each for Pottsgrove, which finished 15-12.
“When we watched film on them, they were a quick athletic team with good shooters,” Tinsley said. “We had a really good defensive game tonight.”
Abington Heights (24-2) advances to play District 12 runner-up Mastery North from Philadelphia (20-6) at Bethlehem Liberty at 6 p.m.