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Grenadiers outgunned in 3A finals

March 01. 2013 11:58PM

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SCRANTON — The strategy early was the obvious choice later in the game.

And GAR couldn’t stop it either time Friday night.

Abington Heights carved up the Grenadiers inside, with center Jason Bamford scoring a game-high 25 points in the 58-37 victory for the District 2 Class 3A boys basketball title.

Both teams will continue play next Friday in the PIAA state tournament with games at District 2 sites. Abington (25-2) will face the District 4 runner-up, either Milton (15-8) or Shikellamy (14-11). Those teams play tonight for the D4 championship.

GAR (17-9) will face District 3 third seed Donegal (26-2). Donegal was the second seed in the D3 tournament.

“We’ve got to regain focus in practice and practice harder,” GAR junior guard Lamont Twyman said, “and come out with a good mindset and finish.”

Abington accomplished those factors early. Bamford established himself inside despite being five inches shorter than GAR’s 6-foot-10 Christian Skrepenak. The Comets threatened to make the game a rout as Bamford’s follow-up basket increased the lead to 22-9 with 6:02 left in the second quarter.

“He’s a great player,” Bamford said of Skrepenak. “He’s much bigger than I am and he’s much stronger than I am. I just wanted to stay in front of him and run the floor well.”

Abington’s attempt to run the Grenadiers out of the gym had a reverse effect. The Comets abruptly became impatient on offense and had eight of their 16 turnovers in the second quarter. GAR took advantage, going on an 11-2 run. Twyman connected on a pair of free throws to pull the Grenadiers within 22-20 with about three minutes left until halftime.

Abington bumped the lead to 26-20 by halftime, then a pair of inside baskets by T.J. Murray to start the third put the lead back to double digits. Once Skrepenak picked up his fourth foul, the Comets attacked at will inside with Bamford and Murray. At one point, Bamford found himself guarded by 6-foot Willie Winstead.

“It’s much easier to score from five feet than three-pointers,” Abington coach Ken Bianchi said. “Our inside guys are pretty good passers and look for each other. And J.C. (Show) looks for everybody, so if you’re open he’ll get you the ball.”

Aside from the second-quarter burst, GAR’s offense was plagued by inconsistent shooting. The Grenadiers were 7-of-23 from the field in the second half and 2-of-12 from three-point range in those quarters. Isaiah Francis paced GAR with 14 points. Darius Washington came off the bench to score eight.

“Tonight the offense didn’t look good at all,” GAR coach Paul Brown said. “We didn’t get the movement we’ve had in practice the last two days or against the teams we’ve played the last couple times. I thought our last two practices went well, but it’s hard to mimic the matchup. I thought we had a good gameplan coming in, but we were a little bit slow moving and had people standing around.”

The championship was Abington’s second in a row and third in the last four seasons. GAR was seeking its first district title since winning the Class 2A crown in 2002-03.

GAR (37): Isaiah Francis 6 2-2 14, James Holmes 1 0-0 2, Lamont Twyman 1 2-2 4, Willie Winstead 1 0-0 2, Christian Skrepenak 2 0-1 4, Darius Washington 3 0-0 8, Jahlil Harvey 1 0-0 3, Greg Skrepenak 0 0-0 0, Brandon Norbert 0 0-0 0, Nigebo Francis 0 0-0 0, Tydus Winstead 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 4-5 37.

ABINGTON HEIGHTS (58): J.C. Show 4 3-4 13, Kevin Elwell 0 0-0 0, Jason Bamford 12 1-4 25, T.J. Murray 5 0-1 10, Jamie Egan 1 0-0 3, Nate Hollander 0 0-0 0, Evan Maxwell 1 0-0 2, Joe Carroll 1 0-1 2, Tim Toro 0 1-3 1, Jamie Henzes 0 0-2 0, Chase Wickenheiser 1 0-0 2, Ethan Danzig 0 0-0 0, Matthew Huggler 0 0-0 0, Clay Basalyga 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 5-15 58.

GAR 6 14 6 11 — 37

Abington Heights 18 8 16 16 — 58

Three-point FGS: GAR 3 (Washington 2, Harvey); AH 2 (Show 2)

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