Trey Koehler and his Abington Heights Comets teammates carried a tradition – and an obligation – with them on to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza court Friday night.
“Coach (Ken Bianchi) talked to us before the game,” Koehler said. “He was telling us, we were not only playing for ourselves, but we’re playing for the players before us who got the streak going and put a lot of time into making it such a good program.
“We’re basically trying to keep the streak going for them and the people who have been supporting us.”
Koehler provided the start the defending state champions needed to extend their streak of District 2 titles to eight with a 43-36 victory over Crestwood in the Class 5A boys championship game.
During the early stages of the game, when points were hard to come by for the Comets, Koehler got them started.
Koehler handled all of the scoring for the Comets in the first 10 minutes and their only field goals for the first 14:22.
Then, the latest PNC Bank District 2 Boys Basketball Player of the Week also helped Abington Heights close out the victory.
“I knew that in the beginning, they’d be keying on George (Tinsley), trying to take him away from our game and that I’d have to step up big,” said Koehler, who had 11 of his 15 points in the first half.
Koehler did just that. He scored the game’s first five points midway through the first quarter, then produced consecutive baskets early in the second to erase the last Crestwood lead and put Abington Heights ahead to stay.
In the first half, Koehler hit a 3-pointer, scored on a pair of low post moves, hit a reverse layup off a drive and turned a backcourt steal into another layup to help Abington Heights take a 16-11 lead at the break.
“We knew they were going to slow down the pace,” said Koehler, who also finished with a game-high eight rebounds along with three steals and three assists. “We knew we had to keep pushing the ball up the floor, running the fastbreak and that once we did that everything would start flowing.”
Abington Heights kept pushing into the final minute with Crestwood hanging within 38-32.
Koehler got free for a basket. He then made a steal and fed George Tinsley with a behind-the-back pass for a three-point play that ended any remaining doubt about the outcome.
The title continues a comeback season for Koehler, who missed most of his junior season, including the playoff run with a broken foot. He established that he was back, made a commitment to continue playing basketball at Ursinus College and has steadily increased his production as the team’s second-leading scorer behind returning first-team, all-stater Tinsley.
Prior to his injury, Koehler had also been a starting receiver and cornerback on the Abington Heights football team as a junior and had worked on developing his basketball skills outside of the high school season on the JB Hoops AAU team. He started on the championship basketball team, averaging in double figures in scoring as a sophomore and again as a junior prior to the injury taking him out of the lineup.
Trey is the son of Joe and Maggie Koehler of Clarks Summit.
The PNC Bank Players of the Week are announced each week on the John Bucci Show, which airs each Mondays at 6 p.m. on NEPA’s ESPN radio. This week’s show is available on demand at http://webca.st/148655.