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N.Eastern

PA Report

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Past Columns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ed note: We are pleased to have the some info from the North Eastern part of the state. We are pleased to have a long time LLHoops fan , Jon K. to contribute. Thanks Jon. Hope you enjoy.

 

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DISTRICT 2 BOYS DIVISION PREVIEWS

 

 

WYOMING VALLEY CONFERENCE

 

DIVISION 1

 

1.    Hazleton Area (Michael Joseph) 6A

2.    Crestwood (Mark Atherton) 5A

3.    Dallas (Mark Belinski) 5A

4.    Wyoming Valley West (Richard Jones) 5A

5.    Pittston Area (Alan Kiesinger) 5A

6.    Wilkes-Barre Coughlin (Mike Day) 5A

 

Division 1 is shaping up to be a fantastic race this year.  Unfortunately, it looks to be for second place as there is not much separation between the two through five positions.  The bigger gap resides at the top where Hazleton Area brings an experienced, athletic, and tall team into conference play.  The Cougars may not feature an MVP standout this season, but they have team balance all over the floor – senior point guard Michael Cusatis, 6-4 junior wing Jeff Planutis, 6-7 junior forward Josh Samec, 6-4 junior playmaker Joey Grula, 6-8 senior forward Nolan Genasevich, and 6-4 soph Da’Mir Faison.  Add in that Mike Joseph loaded up on a challenging exhibition schedule (including powerhouses Scranton Prep, Williamsport, and Whitehall) and you have a seasoned 6A team entering conference play.  As mentioned earlier, there is going to be a real battle among Crestwood, Dallas, Wyoming Valley West, and Pittston for second place.  The Comets graduated a bunch of talent, but coach Mark Atherton has already begun to fit the pieces around returning senior forward Lance Blass (8.8 ppg).  He is joined by 6-4 senior forward Kyle Richards (9.2 ppg) who is really strong around the basket.  In the backcourt the Comets feature multi-sport athletes in Kyle Gegaris (12.4 ppg) and Kevin Klusewitz (7.2 ppg).  Crestwood always brings their stingy defense and loves to keep scores in the 40s.  Dallas continues their upswing this year behind second year head coach Mark Belinski.  The Mounts are off to a great start behind a trio of juniors, Jay Bittner (13.4 ppg), Joey Parsons (11.0 ppg), and Alex Charlton (9.3 ppg).  Ben Donahue, a senior, hits about 8.8 ppg.  Wyoming Valley West is a team that people may be overlooking a bit, starting 2-4 after last year’s 8-16 record.  The Spartans return virtually their entire lineup, are very athletic, and have played a very difficult non-league slate.  On the downside, they may not have the height of some other teams.  WVW is led by forwards Draig Ruff (6-1 junior, 13.3 ppg), Aaron Austin (6-0 senior, 11.7 ppg), and Savion Saunders (6-2 senior, 6.2 ppg).  A trio of seniors anchor their perimeter, Sean Judge (11.7 ppg), Noah Frace (6.0 ppg), and Amistad Hackett (4.8 ppg).  Pittston Area has some decent height in 6-5 senior forwards Pat Mitchell and Michael Mazurkivich who net a combined 14 ppg.  Top junior scorer Alex McAndrew hits 12.8 ppg while guards Chris Klein and Matt McGlynn add a combined 13.8 ppg.  Wilkes-Barre Coughlin has been getting most of their firepower from 4-year starter Charles Cobbs (16.4 ppg, 17 triples) and junior Dominigue Flippen (11.6 ppg).  The Crusaders also rely on seniors Marco DeLuca and Melvin Robinson along with sophomore Julius Morris.  The division schedule is comprised of playing each team in Division 1 twice and playing each team in Division 2 once (16 total games).                                                     

 

 

DIVISION 2

 

1.    Wilkes-Barre Meyers (Pat Toole) 4A

2.    Berwick (Jason Kingery) 4A

3.    Nanticoke (John Beggs) 4A

4.    Wilkes-Barre GAR (Jerry Altavilla) 4A

5.    Wyoming Area (Pete Moses) 4A

6.    Tunkhannock (Spencer Lunger – 1st year) 4A

 

Although Wilkes-Barre Meyers gets the nod in Division 2, there is plenty of optimism from top to bottom.  Berwick, Nanticoke Area, and Wilkes-Barre GAR are going to be staging tremendous matchups, though the new schedule format has Division 2 teams playing each other only once – and that is a shame because this race is likely going to get settled by non-division matchups.  The Mohawks return much of their firepower and are paced by guards Juwane Buckner (junior, 14.5 ppg) and Matt Dessoye (senior, 10.8 ppg).  Inside, they have 6-4 senior forward Levaugn Soules (12 ppg).  Pat Toole has been getting about 14.6 ppg combined from junior guard Omar Kelly and senior forward Ryan Gilgallon.  Look for Berwick to continue their remarkable turnaround this season.  The Bulldogs are off to a 6-0 start behind the play of a trio of double-digit scorers.  Junior guards Damon Beckhorn (17.2 ppg) and Kenny Marshman (10.8 ppg) have hit 15 triples combined while 6-2 senior forward Jude Goddard leads the way with 17.5 ppg.  The Dawgs also get a solid effort from senior guard Matt Champ (8.3 ppg).  Nanticoke Area graduated a bunch of their top scorers, but the Trojans have been getting sensational contributions from sophomore Nate Kreitzer (13.8 ppg, 14 triples) and a core group of veterans led by Luke Butczynski (17.8 ppg, 14 treys).  John Beggs also gets steady scoring from seniors Justin Casey, Zack Cardone, and Cody Piestrak along with junior Tyler Thomas.  Wilkes-Barre GAR has a great mix of talent inside as well as one of the top guards in the entire conference.  Keyshawn Palmer (6-6 senior center) and Herman Suazo (6-5 junior forward) score a combined 16.6 ppg.  Outside, sophomore guard Will Johnson (16.4 ppg, 16 triples) is outstanding along with senior guard Andrew Campbell (10,4 ppg).  The Grenadiers, who were off to a great start this season, ran into a buzzsaw at the Allentown Holiday tourney against some of the top 6A programs in eastern PA.  If there were to be a sleeper team in the division, it would have to include both Wyoming Area and Tunkhannock.  These two teams return a majority of their offense and are off to a combined 9-1 start.  And both of these squads have plenty of youth in their lineup so the future is very bright.  Wyoming Area is led by a trio of juniors in Sam Greenfield (10.5 ppg), Kyre Zielinski (10.3 ppg), and Matt Wright (8 ppg).  The Warriors also get support from seniors Anthony Nardell and Anthony Saitta.  Tunkhannock may have graduated a top area scorer, but the Tigers are quickly replacing those points via underclassmen Tyler Faux (soph, 14.5 ppg), Sean Harder (junior, 9.3 ppg), and Evan Turner (junior, 9 ppg).  First year head coach Spencer Lunger also gets about 13.4 combined points from seniors Avery Newhart and Ethan Hoefert.  Division 2 teams play a very unique (and much-debated) conference schedule, playing each WVC team one time for a total of 17 games.                                         

 

 

DIVISION 3

 

1.    Holy Redeemer (Paul Guido) 3A

2.    Wyoming Seminary (C J Kersey) 3A

3.    Hanover Area (Bob Shoemaker) 4A

4.    Northwest Area (Dustin Babcock) 2A

5.    MMI Prep (Joe Flanagan) 1A

6.    Lake-Lehman (Nathan Schlichter) 4A

 

The Division 3 race appears to be a battle between Holy Redeemer and Wyoming Seminary.  Hanover Area and Northwest Area look to be poised for improvement this season.  And there are high hopes in Freeland for MMI Prep.  Holy Redeemer has seen a pair of sophomores make an impact inside on this year’s squad.  Nick Prociak (6-7 center, 9.6 ppg) and Colin Cook (6-3 forward, 6.6 ppg) have the Royals playing very well.  Returning guards Jason Stachokus (senior, 9 ppg), James Kosik (senior, 3.8 ppg), and Joey Judge (junior, 4.6 ppg) are joined by 6-4 senior forward Joe Layaou (6.2 ppg).  Wyoming Seminary has a young lineup that, so far, has been powered by 6-3 sophomore forward Dimitri Gnall (19.3 ppg) and freshman guard Jeremy Callahan (18.8 ppg, 16 triples).  Returning starter Nicholas Ganter (6-4 soph forward) hits about 9.7 ppg.  Junior guard Tyler Maddock adds 4.2 ppg for the Blue Knights.  Hanover Area returns seniors Tyler Diggs (14 ppg) and Brendan Chafin (8.2 ppg).  The Hawkeyes are getting contributions from Mike Piscotty (junior, 8.2 ppg), Luis Rivera (senior, 5.8 ppg), and Desmond McCance (junior, 5.3 ppg).  Northwest Area brings everyone back, so exceeding last year’s 5-win campaign seems to be a given at this point.  A duo of soph guards leads the way for the Rangers, Sam Saxe (16.8 ppg) and Jaxson Yaple (14.5 ppg) combined for 22 triples on the season.  Seniors Mitchell Mazonkey (guard), Nick Levandowski (6-1 center), and Jesse Tarnowski (6-1 forward) combine for over 14 ppg.  MMI Prep graduated a pair of top scorers, but the Preppers are soaring with confidence by the arrival of 6-7 freshman Phillip Byriel (18 ppg).  So far, Joe Flangan has been able to work Byriel into a veteran lineup led by Kyle Williams (6-1 forward, 7.7 ppg).  And, Lake-Lehman is still looking for consistency and improvement on the court.  The Black Knights return seniors Cole Spencer (8.5 ppg) and Adam Motovidlak along with soph CJ Cerone.  Tyler Scharff has been netting 6.8 ppg while Garrett Weston and Walker Shaw have each been contributing 4.3 ppg.  Teams play each Division 3 team twice and each Division 2 team once for a total of 16 games.                                   

 

             

 

 

 

LACKAWANNA LEAGUE

 

DIVISION 1

 

1.    Scranton Prep (Andrew Kettel) 4A

2.    Abington Heights (Ken Bianchi) 5A

3.    Scranton (Tony Battaglia) 6A

4.    West Scranton (Jack Lyons) 5A

5.    Valley View (Mike Kurpis) 4A

 

There are several exciting division races throughout District 2 this season, but this one is going to be a blast and will likely fill Scranton-area gyms consistently.  Once again, it looks to be a showdown between Scranton Prep and Abington Heights in Division 1, but city schools Scranton and West Scranton both feature effective (though wildly different) offensive styles.  And, even though Valley View is building toward being a future division winner, the Cougars should not be overlooked.  Scranton Prep, coming off impressive wins over 6A powers Hazleton Area and Williamsport, again boasts excellent team balance and great senior leadership.  The Cavaliers seniors guards, Paddy Casey (17.3 ppg) and Nick Dende (10.7 ppg) have combined for 21 triples.  If that long-range number seems a bit low, it’s because the Cavs have a great ability to get the ball inside.  Senior 6-4 playmakers Logan Bailey (12.8 ppg) and Brett Para (12.7 ppg) are joined by 6-5 junior Wes Simons in the middle.  One of the surprises so far has been the stellar play of 6-7 soph forward Leo O’Boyle (5.7 ppg) off the bench.  Prep has shown the ability to weather a storm, and that comes from their veteran lineup.  Right on their heels, though, will be Abington Heights.  Sure, the Comets graduated skill in the backcourt and a ton of rebounds, but the Comets have a starting 5 that is very impressive.  Inside, Seth Maxwell (7-0 senior) returns and hits about 10.5 ppg.  He is joined by a duo of talented, versatile sophomores in George Tinsley (6-4 forward, 12.8 ppg) and Trey Koehler (6-2 senior guard, 11.8 ppg).  Koehler, of late, has been on a roll for Ken Bianchi’s squad.  On the perimeter, junior guard Jackson Danzig (10.3 ppg) is steady.  Ball handling is in the capable hands of 5-7 senior Tom Rothenberger who can launch a triple if left open.  The Comets are still working on using their inside advantage without creating turnovers in the process.  Scranton and West Side are both going to be in the mix and definitely capable of pulling off a big win over the division leaders.  The Knights feature an outstanding junior guard in Ky’Ron Harbin (14.2 ppg) who can really make things happen on the floor.  Inside, Matt Hart (6-9 senior center) is quite agile and nets 12.7 ppg.  They also return 6-3 senior forward Jacob Watts (5.5 ppg) and junior guard Robbie McAndrew (7.2 ppg).  Senior 6-3 forward Nasir Cunningham has been adding 5.2 ppg.  West Scranton, with a majority of their lineup back, will be a dangerous team.  The Invaders deliberate pace and tenacious defense always pays dividends for head coach Jack Lyons.  In the backcourt, senior guards Cole Stetzar (10.9 ppg) and Blake Carlton (6 ppg) each have 11 triples so far.  Inside, 6-2 seniors Matt Williams (8.3 ppg) and Shaun Fanning (6.7 ppg) are joined by 6-4 senior DeShawn Minnick (8 ppg) who can launch a triple.  Valley View features a youthful, balanced lineup that is going to be a force in a year or two.  The Cougars have no seniors and only two juniors on their roster.  They are led by soph guard Marc Kudrich (8.6 ppg).  Other sophomores include Brian Durkin (6-4 forward) plus guards Bobby Craig and Chase Combs.  Freshman Dixon Black has been contributing about 7 ppg.  Teams play each Division 1 team twice and each Division 2 team once for a total of 13 games.                                               

 

 

DIVISION 2

 

1.    North Pocono (Joe Ferguson) 5A

2.    Honesdale (Tim Wood) 4A

3.    Delaware Valley (Kris Holtzer) 6A

4.    Wallenpaupack (Chris Strong – 1st year) 5A

5.    Western Wayne (Al Semenza – 1st year) 4A

 

While Division 2 might not feature as much firepower as some other division races, every indication points to a terrific battle between North Pocono, Honesdale, and Delaware Valley.  And look for significant improvement for Wallenpaupack and Western Wayne under the guidance of new head coaches.  North Pocono returns senior guard Randy Bocan (5.7 ppg) and forward James Ildefsonso (7.4 ppg).  They are joined by senior Nick Mokan along with underclassmen Anthony Kosiba and freshman Robert van Brunt who have been scoring a combined 16.5 ppg.  Honesdale has been paced by junior guard Anthony DeGori who nets 15.3 ppg (with 17 triples so far).  He is joined by senior guard Konnor Burke.  6-3 senior forward Jack Rickard is a good outside shooter who hits 9 ppg.  The Hornets are also getting about 13.2 ppg combined from soph guard Colin Rickard and 6-3 freshman Joey Scarfalloto.  So far, Delaware Valley has struggled a bit, but don’t count out the Warriors as they are anchored by one of the district’s top players in 6-6 senior forward Shane Acoveno (16 ppg).  Del-Val is also getting about 7 ppg each from Zach Klapak (junior guard), Tyler Smith (returning senior guard), and Blake Gearhart.  Wallenpaupack has already exceeded their 3-win total from last year and so far the Buckhorns are getting plenty of players into the rotation.  Paupack is led by a trio of returning guards, senior sharp-shooter Mitch Guerrieri (10.1 ppg, 20 triples), junior Mac Peet (4 ppg), and senior Cody Fenstermacher (3.3 ppg).  The addition of freshman guard Elijah Rosenthal (11.8 ppg, 17 treys) has payed immediate dividends.  Western Wayne has also exceeded last year’s win total already under first year head coach Al Semenza.  The Wildcats are getting double digit scoring from soph guard Dahlton Frisbie (13.3 ppg) and frosh guard Zachary Rovinsky (12.3 ppg).  The duo have combined to hit 24 triples so far.  Inside, 6-3 senior forward Luke Pike contributes 9.2 ppg.  Teams play each Division 2 team twice and each Division 1 team once for a total of 13 games.                                                                                                               

 

 

DIVISION 3

 

1.    Mid Valley (Mike Abda) 3A

2.    Dunmore (Tony Lacertosa) 3A

3.    Holy Cross (Al Callejas) 2A

4.    Old Forge (Jared Yanniello) 2A

5.    Carbondale (Landon Gabriel) 3A

6.    Riverside (Mike Morgan) 3A

7.    Lakeland (Jeff Evans) 3A

 

The race in Division 3 is going to be very competitive this year.  There is more parity and most teams are having to deal with a potential weakness here or there in their lineup.  Through late December, the non-league combined record is a modest 16-32.  Mid Valley, with four returning starters, gets the nod over Dunmore to win the division.  The Spartans features a senior lineup led by talented guards Brad Kalinowski (17.8 ppg) and Noah Tanner (11.5 ppg).  Additional perimeter support comes from junior JJ Glinsky and senior Brendan Davies.  Mid Valley does not have much of a post game, but gets a ton of help inside from RJ Gouldsbury (6-0 senior forward) who hits 13.5 ppg.  Look for Dunmore to challenge the Spartans as the Bucks have a solid group of returning players.  They are led by a trio of senior guards, Conor Walsh (9.5 ppg), Michael Dougherty (6.5 ppg), and John Mandarano (8.5 ppg).  Nick Maldanato (6-2 senior center) scores about 4.4 ppg.  Like the Bucks, Holy Cross has gotten off to a rough start and needs more balanced scoring.  But, that’s how the Crusaders typically get rolling through December.  So far, 6-6 senior center Malachi Phillips has been their top offensive player, leading the way with 11.7 ppg.  Sophomore guard Tyler Mozeleski had some big early games and is averaging 10 ppg.  Returning backcourt of Matt Nelson (senior) and Patrick Galvin (junior) are contributing a combined 13.8 ppg.  Old Forge, despite their 1-6 start, has played well at times considering their challenging schedule.  The Blue Devils strength is in the middle with 6-4 senior Ben Grochowski (13.6 ppg).  Returning junior guards Joey Verespey and Brendan Nee have been scoring a combined 15.2 ppg while Kevin Walsh (junior guard) has provided a spark with 12.3 ppg.  Looking for a sleeper to make some real noise?  Carbondale has that potential.  The Chargers took Mid Valley to overtime before dropping a loss in a recent holiday tourney game.  They are a great outside shooting team (almost 50 triples) and get balanced scoring from a mix of veteran and younger players.  Senior shooting guard Evan Dearie averages 9.7 ppg and Giovanni Mustica (6-5 senior center) hits 9.5 ppg.  They also get about 20 ppg combined from underclassmen guards Andrew Manarchuck (junior), Bobby Salitsky (junior), and Pat Durkin (sophomore).  Riverside and Lakeland look to get on track in the new year.  The Vikings feature 6-3 senior forward Bill Nash (10.5 ppg) and 6-2 junior forward Marcos Echeverria (7.1 ppg).  Seniors Nick Sottile (a guard) and Josh Davis (6-5 center) contribute a combined 8.8 ppg.  Lakeland is a young team with only two seniors on their roster.  They are led by 6-4 soph forward Jake Curnow (18.1 ppg), a solid outside shooter.  On the perimeter, they have junior guards Rodney LaBorde (6.3 ppg) and Sam Morgan (3.9 ppg) along with sophomore James Lewis (6.9 ppg).  Teams play each Division 3 team twice and also play a crossover Division 4 team twice (that does not count in the division standings).                             

                          

 

DIVISION 4

 

1.    Blue Ridge (Casey Jenkins) 2A

2.    Montrose (Cody Ivey – 1st year) 3A

3.    Mountain View (Joe Gibbons) 2A

4.    Elk Lake (Richard Emmons – 1st year) 2A

5.    Forest City (Luke Pisarcik) 2A

6.    Lackawanna Trail (Christian Sunseri) 2A

7.    Susquehanna (Lawrence Tompkins) 1A

 

As always, Division 4 is going to be very balanced.  Blue Ridge looks to be the team to beat, but after that, the remaining positions could be wide open.  The Raiders don’t have much height, but are physical, and have lots of seniors getting plenty of playing time.  Jeff Morris (6-1 forward) is hitting 20.7 ppg.  He is joined inside by 6-1 forward Kyle Donovan (6 ppg).  On the perimeter, they have a pair of senior guards in sharpshooter Mike Allen (7.4 ppg, 15 treys) and Jarred Mills (6.1 ppg).  Additional support comes from returning players Tyrell Cheeseboro and Sam Cosmello.  Montrose has gotten strong play from an underclassmen duo to go along with returning starter Brendan Buck (7 ppg).  Sophomore Brennan Gilhool (11.3 ppg) and Jacob Peck (9.1 ppg) are leading the scoring for the Meteors.  They also get about 5.5 ppg each from Liam McGranahan, Devin Nash, and Harley Mullins.  Mountain View once again is paced by senior guard Matt Lavin (16.3 ppg), but the Eagles are also getting strong play from three underclassmen guards (Kyle Streich, Alex Showalter, and Mikey Schermerhorn).  Elk Lake was bit hard by graduation but returns top scorer Ben Woolcock (senior guard, 15.1 ppg).  He is joined in the backcourt by Reirdan Reyan (17 ppg with 17 triples).  Inside, the Warriors have senior forwards Griffin Burnell (6-4, 6.7 ppg) and Zach Groover (6-3, 3.6 ppg).  Looking for a sleeper team in Division 4?  How about Forest City who has several talented starters returning and some size too.  Senior guard Jared Paulin (9.7 ppg) and 6-5 junior center Noah Yates (9.2 ppg) lead the way for the Foresters, but they also get strong play from 6-3 senior forward Kolby Rotella and junior guard Jordan Non who contribute a combined 12 ppg.  Lackawanna Trail brings back several starters and the Lions are working on getting more offense going.  They are led by a trio of seniors in Travis Ankoff (guard, 8.5 ppg), Anthony Berrios (6-2 forward, 4.3 ppg), and Ronnie Traver (forward, 3.8 ppg).  LT has also been getting about 13 ppg combined from juniors Shawn Jones and Griffin Holmes along with freshman Josh Rzucildo.  Susquehanna is also going to be very competitive.  Don’t be surprised to see the Sabers climb the standings.  They are led by sophomore guard Mason Deakin (11.9 ppg) along with senior guards Tyler Williams (11 ppg) and Garret Grausgruber (7.3 ppg).  The Sabers have 24 triples so far between those three players.  Eric Lee (6-0 junior forward) nets about 5.5 ppg.  Teams play each Division 4 team twice and also play a crossover Division 3 team twice (that does not count in the division standings).                                                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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