Abington Heights beats Bonner-Prendie in a bizarre overtime thriller to advance to PIAA state title game

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Bonner-Prendergast’s Yohance Garner (bottom) dives for a loose ball in the first quarter of the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball semifinal game on Monday.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — With about 5 seconds left, the public-address announcer asked spectators to stay off the court at the conclusion of the game.

In fairness to the Abington Heights crowd that packed Freedom High School for the PIAA Class 5A boys’ semifinals, he didn’t say anything about not throwing things onto the court.

It appeared the Comets would prevail in regulation, leading Bonner-Prendergast by three points with seconds remaining.

Chaos prevailed instead, and kisses were the culprit.

The District 2 top-seeded Comets eventually won, 56-51, in overtime. But after Michael Perretta rebounded Isaiah Wong’s desperate three-pointer in regulation and flung it over his head, Abington Heights fans threw Hershey kisses onto the court.

The problem — besides the cliche kisses — was that a referee had called a foul before the horn blared.

Several players from Abington Heights, assuming the game was over, also ran onto the court.

In the aftermath, officials called a “bench technical foul” for the chucked chocolate.

And because Bonner-Prendie was in the double-bonus, Perretta was awarded two freebies for the foul and two more for the technical.

To the visible consternation of the Comets, who watched helplessly at midcourt, Perretta calmly drained the first three free throws.

The fourth, however, rimmed out and elicited an eruption of emotion from all sides.

“We were scared,” said junior forward George Tinsley, who led the Comets with 18 points. “We wanted to get to the state. We thought we had it locked up and then that happened. We were just so confused about it. I just tried to bring them together and realize that we have to hope he misses one of these and play really good defense once he does.”

On the Friars’ ensuing possession, Donovan Rodriguez missed a long three-point attempt that came up just short.

In the overtime that followed, the Friars turned the ball over four times, while the Comets (26-3) hit all six of their free throws.

With a few seconds left in overtime, the PA announcer reiterated his previous reminder, with an addendum: “… and please do not throw anything onto the court.”

Comets senior wing Jackson Danzig finished with 15 points, three rebounds, and three steals. Junior guard Jack Nealon finished with 14 points and hit all seven of his free throws.

The Comets will play District 7 Mars in Hershey for the Class 5A championship.

Bonner-Prendergast (25-5), the District 12 Class 5A champions, finished 21 of 29 at the foul line and had only four field goals after halftime.

The Friars, who scored just three points in the third quarter, were paced by junior point guard Isaiah Wong, who finished with 19 points after scoring 15 by intermission, which provided a 31-27 Friars lead.

Wong was face-guarded and denied the ball by Nealon often in the second half in what appeared to be a triangle-and-one defense.

Wong finished 5 of 11 overall after hitting 4 of 7 at the half. He also added 8 of 11 free throws, four rebounds, two steals and a block.

Fellow junior Tariq Ingraham finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Abington Heights Comets (25-3) 14 13 10 11 8 56
Bonner-Prendie (25-4) 17 14 3 14 3 51

BP: Isaiah Wong 19, Tariq Ingraham 12, Donovan Rodriguez 7, Michael Perretta 6, Ajiri Johnson 4, James Welde 3.

AH: George Tinsley 18, Jackson Danzig 15, Jack Nealon 14, Mikey Malone 6, Corey Perkins 2, Drew Nealon 1.