By Tom Robinson
For the Daily Item
SCRANTON -- Abington Heights overwhelmed Shikellamy Friday night with the combination of three effective perimeter shooters and a wave of dominant big men.
The District 2 champion Comets limited the Braves to just five first-half rebounds while building a 21-point halftime lead on the way to a 67-37 rout in the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball first-round playoff game at Lackawanna College.
"They were better than us in every way," Shikellamy coach Tim Foor said. "They were bigger and stronger and they shot the ball very well."
Ernie Tyler kept the Braves competitive early. Tyler hit a three-pointer on the team's first possession for Shikellamy's only lead.
On the way to a team-high 15-point effort, Tyler had the first eight Shikellamy points to keep the game close, 11-8, midway through the first quarter.
"Ernie's been doing that all year," Foor said. "He's stepped up for us game in and game out."
Zach Herbster connected from the foul line to make it 13-10 with 1:58 left before Abington Heights began to break away with the last five points of the first quarter.
The Comets closed the first half with a 17-2 run then opened the second with a 14-2 burst to blow the game open, 51-18, with 2:30 left in the third.
Jamie Egan produced the 33-point lead by finishing off a 5-for-5 night that included four 3-pointers.
"We moved the ball around real well," Egan said.
The three Abington Heights starting guards -- Egan, Kevin Elwell and J.C. Show -- combined to shoot 8-for-13 on 3-pointers while putting together 36 points and 15 assists.
"We saw them on tape four times and they didn't shoot the ball like that," Foor said.
That was not the only problem presented by the Comets (26-2).
Jason Bamford, a 6-foot-5 senior center, had six points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. T.J. Murray, a 6-3, 245-pound senior, added 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
When they needed a break, the Comets turned to 6-foot-9 junior Evan Maxwell, who ran the floor for an alley-oop dunk in transition, and 6-foot-5 freshman Timmy Toro.
"When they're bringing in 6-7, 6-7 off the bench, there's not a lot we can do bringing in 6-1 and 6-2," Foor said.
It all added up to a 69 percent shooting night and a 24-12 rebounding advantage for the Comets.
"We knew we were in for a battle," Foor said. "They're the fourth-ranked team in the state for a reason."
Just getting a showdown with one of the state's best was an accomplishment for the Braves.
"I don't think anyone thought we were going to be here," Foor said. "In the beginning, we just wanted to get to 11-11 and get into the District 4 playoffs.
"We ended the season in the state playoffs."
Shikellamy, the District 4 runner-up, finished 14-12.