NEPA Sports Nation

Cougars shut down Comets

By Tom Robinson,

PECKVILLE – Valley View controlled the boards and therefore the pace.

With that and a strong defensive effort, the Cougars also contained the high-powered Abington Heights offense.

Holding the visiting Comets to 14 points under their previous low and 27 below their season average, the Cougars tied up the Lackawanna League Division 1 boys basketball race with Friday night’s come-from-behind, 41-38 victory.

Abington Heights came in averaging more than 65 points per game. The lowest point total it had produced had been 52, in its only other loss of the season against Berks Catholic and while beating Valley View in he first meeting between the teams.

Kyle Rupp, who hit two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to force Abington Heights to go for a 3-pointer on the game’s final possession, pulled down 12 rebounds to lead a 28-23 advantage on the boards. Rupp held down the Comets second chances by grabbing 11 of his rebounds on the defensive end.

L.V. Pegula had three steals and Taheed Jewell two while Eli Yusavage and A.J. Kucharski each blocked shots.

But the effort was more about simply playing solid defense and challenging each shot, holding an explosive team to 33-percent shooting in the game, including a 10-minute stretch of the second half with just two field goals.

The game’s biggest lead for either team was six points.

Abington Heights took that lead three times, all on 3-pointers by Patrick Walsh, who was 4-for-5 from long distance while leading the Comets with 12 points.

Walsh capped an 8-0 run to an 18-12 lead with 6:29 left in the half, made it 25-19 with 4:05 left in the third quarter and put the lead back at 28-22 with 1:22 remaining in the quarter with one of the two baskets in the span of 9:51 before Mason Fedor led the last surge by the Comets.

After Walsh’s last 3-pointer, Valley View went on a 13-2 run led by Dominic Memo’s six points.

Kucharski scored the last point of the third quarter and the first basket of the fourth on a feed from Jewell in transition.

Yusavage, who led Valley View with 12 points, hit two free throws after a technical foul that caused Abington Heights coach Ken Bianchi to be seated for the last 6:42 of the game.

Ryan Nealon found Will Marion for a basket after an Abington Heights offensive rebound, making it 30-27 with 6:02 left.

Memo, who did all his scoring in the last 5:30, provided the next four points on two free throws and a go-ahead basket in the lane with 4:30 remaining.

Pegula added two free throws and, seconds later, Jewell sprinted toward the basket after making a steal. Jewell was unable to finish, but Memo followed him for the tip-in and biggest Valley View lead, 35-30.

Abington Heights was not done.

Fedor, who finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, scored the next five points, turning an offensive rebound into the tying, three-point play with 2:14 remaining.

The Cougars then won the game at the foul line where they were 12-for-16 in the fourth quarter, including making six of their last eight. The Comets were just 4-for-8 in the quarter.

Yusavage made the second of two with 1:55 left and the Cougars went into the final minute up by one.

Kucharski, who finished with 10 points, made three of four for a 39-35 lead.

Robby Lucas scored on a putback for Abington Heights with 26 seconds left, then made one of two free throws with 10.5 left to make it 39-38.

The Comets had to keep fouling and Rupp made both his shots.

Abington Heights advanced the ball to midcourt for a timeout with 7.3 seconds left and got a good look at a contested 3-pointer that did not fall.

Both teams come out of the game with 9-1 division records and three games remaining.

Abington Heights, the No. 1 Big School in the Riverfront Sports Super Six Power Rankings of District 2 teams all season, falls to 17-2 overall with the end of its eight-game winning streak.

No. 2 Valley View won its seventh straight to improve to 16-2.

The Comets and the Cougars also lead the races for the top seeds in the District 2 Class 5A and 4A playoffs.

Both teams still have games left against West Scranton (11-8).

Valley View also plays at Division 2 leader North Pocono (10-9) Tuesday and at Scranton Prep (12-7) in the Feb. 14 finale. Abington Heights is home for its other two games, against Scranton (6-11) and Wallenpaupack (10-9).

Jewell had three assists for Valley View. Marion had four and Nealon three for Abington Heights.

Walsh grabbed six rebounds for the Comets.


Photo Gallery by Tim Drewes: Abington Heights/Valley View boys basketball photo gallery – NEPA Sports Nation.

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