All-Around District 2 (BOYS Highlights)
Written by: Jon K on Tuesday, December 17th, 2019
Welcome back to the LLHoops Northeast Beat
So, What Have We Learned?
11 days into the District 2 high school hoops season and there are plenty of storylines developing. December is filled with many of the area’s top teams playing rugged exhibition slates, so there’s no lack of marque action taking place each night. With Mother Nature having her way with most of the Monday and Tuesday lineup, it looks like a perfect opportunity to dial through what’s been happening across the district so far. Today we’ll take a glance back at the Boys’ highlights and then shift over and post a summary of the Girls’ action on Wednesday.
Wyoming Valley Conference
DIVISION 1 TEAMS
Crestwood and Dallas have definitely impressed with their early season performances. The Comets (3-0) return a solid nucleus of talented juniors and they are all making solid contributions. Add in several key players from the junior varsity program, such as 6-2 junior Paul Feisel (18.3 ppg), and you quickly learn that this is not your father’s mid-40s scoring offense. These high-powered Comets (73 ppg so far) have defeated Scranton (four players in doubles, led by Ryan Petrosky with 21), Lake-Lehman (87-44), and Williamsport (61-35). Added contributions are provided by Marcus Vieney, Brad Papura, and Jacob Zaleski. Dallas (3-1) led at the break (36-31), but dropped a season-opening loss to Boys’ Latin, 70-65, as the Mounts were led by sophomore Austin Finarelli (13.3 ppg) with 22 points. They rebounded for a trio of solid wins over North Pocono (62-61), Delaware Valley (57-43), and Wyoming Seminary (64-58). They’re getting solid efforts from senior Jack Farrell (15.3 ppg) and sophomore Nick Nocito (15.0 ppg). The Mountaineers rallied from a 46-42 deficit to get that impressive road win over Sem on Saturday night. Hazleton Area evened their mark at 2-2 with 69-61 win at North Pocono as senior Scotty Campbell netted 28 points (including 8 triples !!!) while junior Angel Cruz added 17 points. After the Cougars began their season at the Manheim Township Tourney (losing to host MT 60-54 and bouncing back to defeat E-town 78-65), they dropped their home opener to Scranton Prep 60-56. That game had a playoff intensity vibe as Campbell led with 19 while Chris Garcia added 18 (they combined for 9 triples). The Cougars are very-well coached and are going to be a fun team to watch develop this year. Pittston Area (1-2) started out with a 42-40 victory over Hanover Area as they got 21 combined points from sophomore JJ Walsh and senior Mike George. The Patriots then dropped losses to powerful Holy Cross (65-42) and West Scranton (61-57 in double OT). Brennan Higgins netted 15 in each of those games while Logan Booth hit 22 in the loss to the Invaders. Pittston has plenty of veteran experience both on the court and near the bench, so keep an eye on the Pats. Nanticoke Area (1-3) is just a handful of points away from having a perfect season mark. So far, the bulk of their scoring is via senior Colby Butczynski (19.5 ppg) plus juniors JJ Bielecki (10 ppg) and Jake Krupinski (14.3 ppg). The Trojans dropped their opener to North Pocono (65-60) as Butczynski led with 22. They rebounded as Butczynski then netted 31 in a 64-54 win over Lake-Lehman. Jack Krupinski paced GNA with 25 points as they lost to Riverside 59-53. On Saturday, Nanticoke got 17 from Bielecki as their rally came up short in a 45-42 Conference Challenge loss to undefeated Holy Cross. Wilkes-Barre Area (1-3) got an opening night win over Delaware Valley (68-44), but then dropped losses to Lackawanna Division 1 contenders Scranton Prep (61-50) and Scranton (64-49). On Saturday, the Wolfpack also came up short against Philly Catholic League powerhouse Archbishop Carroll (76-41). WBA has been led by juniors Cole Walker (14.5 ppg), Brandon Hall (11.0 ppg), Blake Masker (7.5 ppg), and Jordan Diggs (9.8 ppg). Berwick (1-3) got their first win of the season, a 42-36 victory over Southern Columbia. Wyoming Valley West (0-4) is still looking for their first win. The Spartans placed 4 players into doubles in a 73-69 opening night loss to Riverside. Monday night, they got 26 points (including 3 triples) from freshman Jordon Redguard in a 65-57 loss to Scranton Prep.
DIVISION 2 TEAMS
Holy Redeemer and Wyoming Seminary have both started their season at 1-2. And interestingly, they both played (and lost to) Philly Catholic League contender Cardinal O’Hara. The Royals began their campaign with an 82-43 romp over Hunter College (NY) high school as they placed four players into doubles, led by Justice Shoats (16.3 ppg) with 17 while Mason Mendygral added 13. They next traveled to play at COH but came up short, 64-56, as Shoats and Matthew Prociak each contributed 16 points. On Saturday afternoon, HR participated in the Conference Challenge, but lost to red-hot Valley View 44-39. Wyoming Seminary began their season with a home 70-55 loss to Cardinal O’Hara as Jake Koretz netted 22 (Todd Phillips and Jeremy Callahan each added 10). The Blue Knights bounced back with a decisive 81-46 win over Wyoming Valley West as they put placed four into double digit scoring (Koretz 23, Phillips 21, Callahan 13, and Ethan Meuser 12). On Saturday, Dallas rallied on the final period for a 64-58 win as Sem got 21 from Callahan, 14 from Phillips, and 13 from Koretz. Tunkhannock (4-1) has won four in a row including the consolation of the Joseph Nespoli Tournament. The Tigers defeated Berwick (43-22), Lackawanna Trail (46-28), Elk Lake (51-22), and Montrose (67-30). Junior Ryan Harder has been on-fire, hitting 21.3 ppg including 30 points in their win over Montrose. He has 17 triples over the 4-game span. Junior Jack Chilson netted 15 points in their win over Berwick. Northwest Area (2-1) got 23 points (including 5 treys) in their opening 71-32 victory over Bucktail. The Rangers then lost to Hughesville (48-30) before bouncing back to defeat Susquehanna (42-26). Walker Yaple (14 ppg) led the way with 18 points in their Conference Challenge win over the Sabers. Wyoming Area (1-1) began their season with a 67-59 win over Mountain View as Cole Coolbaugh hit 23 while Sam Solomon and Jesse Mikoliczyk combined for 28 points. The Warriors then placed four players into doubles but lost to Lackawanna Trail 53-47. Hanover Area (1-3) has played a challenging slate, dropping games to Pittston Area (42-40), Western Wayne (51-43), and North Pocono (70-56). The Hawkeyes did secure a 49-34 win over Delaware Valley. They have been getting a steady effort from senior Auggie George (12.8 ppg). Senior Asad Whitehead hit 18 points in their win over Del-Val while junior Khairi Carson added 19 in the loss to North Pocono. MMI Prep (1-2) sandwiched a win over Meadowbrook Christian (54-31) around losses to Sullivan County (60-36) and Marian Catholic (72-35). Lake-Lehman (0-4) is still looking for their first win of the season. The Black Knights will be relying on a trio of juniors this season, Josh Kane, Neil Dougherty, and Max Paczewski.
DIVISION 1 TEAMS
There is plenty of excitement and optimism around Division 1 as the teams have combined for a 15-6 start so far through the non-league portion of the season. Starting with Valley View (4-1), the Cougars continue to roll along behind the play of junior guard Zack Kovalchik (14.2 ppg) and newcomer Adam Howanitz, a sensational 6-4 freshman forward hitting 13.2 ppg. They defeated Lakeland (59-29), Mid Valley (36-34), Holy Redeemer (44-39 in the Conference Challenge), and Dunmore (58-47) Monday night. The only loss was to undefeated Holy Cross, 60-55. Abington Heights (3-1) has played teams from across the state, getting victories over Emmaus (51-33), Wyoming Valley West (48-29), and highly regarded Pottsville (46-37). Against Williamsport, they rallied from a 26-15 halftime deficit to take a late lead before dropping a 48-46 loss at the overtime buzzer. They are getting great leadership from senior guard Corey Perkins (14.8 ppg) and plenty of inside power from 6-4 junior forward Harry Johnson (14.3 ppg), but the Comets need to find some additional offensive punch. Scranton Prep (3-1) is another program that loves to play a robust non-league schedule and this year is no different as the Cavaliers have already taken on three 6A squads. They started out with 61-50 win over Wilkes-Barre Area and then rallied for a 60-56 win over Hazleton Area. On Saturday in the Diane Mosco Shootout opening game, Norristown pulled away in the final period for a 67-57 win. On Monday night, Prep defeated Wyoming Valley West 65-57 as their 6-7 senior forward Rhys Merritt (19.8 ppg) netted 30 points. His play has been very impressive so far. The Cavaliers play extremely well as a team and get balanced scoring from junior guards Gavin Bednarz (11.5 ppg) and Michael Skoff (9.8 ppg) plus sophomore forward Robert Rossi (10.8 ppg). West Scranton (3-1) dropped their opener to Dunmore (43-35) before winning the Finan Tourney with wins over Honesdale (56-54) and Carbondale (66-32). The Invaders also got a 61-57 victory over Pittston Area. West features senior guard Lewin Fernandez along with juniors Cayden Merrifield (15.6 ppg with 12 triples) and Londall Wright (10.3 ppg). They also have a pair of versatile juniors in Nick Forsette and Brandon Barnes (hitting a combined 17.5 ppg). With most of the talk often centers on other teams in the division, West Scranton might get overlooked a bit. It will be interesting to see how they match up in January league play. Scranton (2-2) is another team playing a tough schedule that will pay dividends next month. The Knights hit 11 triples and placed 5 players in double digit scoring as they came up short to a very talented Crestwood squad, 71-62. In their 66-52 win over Riverside, Jason Shields (sophomore guard) hit 23 points while Kevin Lazdowsky (6-2 junior forward) added 16. That same duo came up big hitting 33 points in a 64-49 win over Wilkes-Barre Area. John Rose (junior guard) contributed 15 points. The Knights then got 18 points from Lazdowsky but could not hold off held off a Mid Valley rally in the final period as the Spartans prevailed at the buzzer, 37-36.
DIVISION 2 TEAMS
Wallenpaupack (3-0) captured the championship of the Lake Region Tip Off with wins over Stroudsburg (51-43) and Monticello, NY (46-44). The Buckhorns also added a win over Elk Lake (66-19). As expected, they are being led by senior guard Elijah Rosenthal (20.3 ppg). He is joined by sophomore guard Jack Smith. Paupack also returns Gerald McGrath (5-11 senior forward), Gabe Springer (6-6 senior forward), and will be helped by the addition of 6-2 senior forward Grant Berrios. Western Wayne (3-1) graduated a big chunk of their offense, but the Wildcats still have plenty of experience and floor talent. They began the season by rallying back from a big deficit to defeat Hanover Area, 51-43. They then got by Division 3 contender Dunmore 62-51 before splitting a pair of games at the Cal King Tournament. After dropping the semi-final to Lakeland (54-52), the ‘Cats rebounded to get by host Lackawanna Trail, 61-52. Their 6-7 powerhouse is senior Zachary Rovinsky who is averaging 24.8 ppg, including a 39-point effort in the win over Trail. He is joined by 6-2 junior forward Matt Henneforth (6 ppg) and junior guard Zane Janiszewski (10.5 ppg). The steady contributions from 6-5 sophomore forward Thomas Chernasky (13.5 ppg) have been a big reason why Western Wayne is finding early season success. North Pocono (2-2) a team with virtually their entire lineup back is going to quickly flip last year’s 5-18 season mark. The Trojans have played a challenging schedule so far and have performed quite well. After leading off with a 65-60 win over Nanticoke Area, they lost a tight 62-61 game to Dallas (in which they led at the break, 40-33). They rebounded to get by Hanover Area 70-56 before losing a home game to Hazleton Area (69-61) on Saturday night. NP is led by junior guards Damarco Maglio (15.2 ppg) and Zach Walsh (15.8 ppg). Walsh had a combined 45 points in their two losses to Dallas and Hazleton Area. Maglio netted 21 in the victory over Hanover Area. The Trojans also rely on sophomore guard Ryan Ruddy (10.8 ppg) and 6-3 senior forward Robert VanBrunt (11.8 ppg). This is yet another exciting squad where there is tremendous potential. Honesdale (1-2) started off the season with a big rally that fell just short in the Finan Tourney semi-final (56-54 loss to West Scranton) but came back to win the consolation, 72-27 over Forest City. The Hornets also dropped a 59-46 loss to Dunmore. Honesdale is led by senior guards Chris Cespedes (14.3 ppg) and Robbie Campen (6.3 ppg). They have plenty of height in 6-4 senior Joe Scarfalloto (13 ppg) plus juniors Jimmy Roda (6-5) and Jacob Lyle (6-4) who have been combining for 17 ppg. Delaware Valley (0-3) is still looking for the first win. The Warriors, who have dropped games to Wilkes-Barre Area (68-44), Hanover Area (49-34), and Dallas (57-43), rely on a pair of seniors – guard Jackson Melnick (8.7 ppg) and versatile 6-4 forward Jackson Shafer (15 ppg with 7 triples).
DIVISION 3 TEAMS
The overall won-loss season mark for Division 3 teams is 16-7 and might be an early indication of how competitive this division is going to be. At this point, however, undefeated Holy Cross (4-0) is living up to the anticipation of being the team to beat. The Crusaders have plenty of senior backcourt leadership and skill. After leading off with a 51-26 win over Mountain View, they rolled over Pittston Area 65-42. HC then came away with a pair of solid wins over talented district squads, a 60-55 victory over Valley View followed by a 45-42 Conference Challenge win over Nanticoke Area. Senior guards Leahy O’Connor and Kieran Burrier are each hitting 11.8 ppg. They are joined by seniors Caleb Callejas and James Calciano are also hitting a combined 11.8 ppg. Junior forward Patrick Bennie is adding 9 ppg. Lakeland (3-1) bounced back following a season-opening 59-29 loss to Valley View by defeating Susquehanna (43-28) and then winning the Cal King Tourney (54-52 over Western Wayne and 34-31 over Lackawanna Trail). The Chiefs return a pair of solid guards in Nick Bertholf and Caleb Vigil who are each scoring 12.5 ppg. Dunmore (2-2) is another team that returns most of their lineup. They have lots of offensive balance. Following a 43-35 win over rival West Scranton, the Bucks lost to Western Wayne (62-51) before rebounding to get by Honesdale (59-46). Monday night they lost to a talented Valley View team, 58-47. Junior guard Frank Ruggerio (13 ppg with 10 triples) leads the way. He netted 18 points in the win over Western Wayne. Dunmore also features 6-2 senior forward Thomas Dougherty (10.8 ppg) along with 6-2 junior forward Dom Temperino. In the backcourt, they also have seniors Steve Borgia and Ian Cowder. Mid Valley (2-1) is one of those programs in which seems to achieve remarkable success despite facing significant graduation impacts. Year after year. Of course, having a freshman guard step in to contribute 16.7 ppg certainly helps too. Danny Nemitz is their top scorer and provides nice balance. He is joined by junior guard Tyler O’Connor. Their returning 6-6 senior center is Mike Miller (10 ppg). Mid Valley rolled over Montrose to begin their season, 61-22. They then lost to Valley View 36-34 before getting a game winner from Nemitz for a 37-36 win over Scranton. Riverside (2-1) is another squad with plenty of good returning talent. The Vikings made an incredible second half comeback to defeat Wyoming Valley West in their opener, 73-69 as junior guards Michael Rickert (35 points with 7 triples) and Brandon Reed (26 points) led the way. Riverside then dropped a 66-52 loss to Scranton as the same duo combined for 31 points. The Vikes rebounded with an impressive 59-53 victory over Nanticoke Area (senior guard Michael Antoniacci netted 15). Todd Monahan (6-0 junior forward) has also been contributing 8.3 ppg. Old Forge (2-0) has logged wins over South Williamsport (63-51) and Mountain View (48-28). The Blue Devils have a trio of talented juniors in Dante Lucarelli (6-1 forward, 19 ppg), Michael DiGregorio (guard, 14.5 ppg), and Sean Donovan (guard, 7.5 ppg). Old Forge also a promising freshman guard in Casey Holzman (8 ppg). Carbondale (1-2) defeated Elk Lake in the annual Red Wallace Game 46-45 as 6-3 junior forward Ray Ofner netted 26 points. The Chargers then got a Finan Tourney semi-final win over Forest City (57-54) as senior guard Jesse Miller hit 21 points and 6-4 junior center Jaheim Brooker added 13. Carbondale lost the championship game to West Scranton, 66-32.
DIVISION 4 TEAMS
OK, so while the overall won-loss mark among these teams (4-19) may present a slightly different story, keep in mind that many of these teams have played opponents that are at a much higher caliber level. Lackawanna Trail (3-2) dropped their opener to Tunkhannock (46-28) before getting back-to-back wins over Wyoming Area (53-47) and Lake-Lehman (55-38). They then lost the Cal King Tourney title game to Lakeland (34-31). Monday night they topped Towanda 45-30. The Lions have three talented seniors back, 6-3 forward Richard Helbing (13.8 ppg) along with guards Josh Rzucidlo (10.8 ppg) and Nico Berrios (8.4 ppg). Trail also has a pair of promising sophomore guards in Brycen Decker and Owen Lisk. Mountain View (0-3) dropped games to Holy Cross (51-26), Wyoming Area (67-59), and Old Forge (48-28). The Eagles are led by 6-3 senior forward Mike Fanelli (12.7 ppg) along with senior guard Wyatt Brozonis and sophomore guard Ryan Henke. Blue Ridge (0-2) played a pair of teams from District 4 so far, losing to Sayre (67-59) and Wyalusing (49-36). The Raiders are led by senior guard Ben Bleck (14 ppg), junior guard Carson Koehler, and 6-3 senior forward Gavin Rosa. Forest City (0-2) returns several players this season. The Foresters lost to Carbondale (57-54) and Honesdale (72-27) in the Finan Tourney. In the loss to the Chargers, Jay Lipko and Austin Dishong combined for 30 points. Montrose (0-3) also played a rugged schedule so far, dropping games to Mid Valley (61-22), Towanda (54-37), and Tunkhannock (67-30). So far, the Meteors have been getting good efforts from junior guard Trent Leonard and sophomore guard Connor Watkins. Susquehanna Community (0-4) was hit hard by graduation. The Sabers have lost to Wyalusing (53-43), Sayre (61-53), Lakeland (43-28), and Northwest Area (42-26 in the Conference Challenge). So far, they have been getting good efforts from juniors Garrett Decker and Gavin Baker along with senior Matt Phillips. Elk Lake (1-3) got an opening 46-45 win over Carbondale in the Red Wallace Game before dropping games to Tunkhannock (51-22), Wallenpaupack (66-19), and Wyalusing Valley (58-53). The Warriors have been getting contributions from sophomores Matt Mowry, Trevor Graham, and Caden Ramey along with senior Brant Marshall.
A quick update on Williamsport (1-3). As in previous years, Port opened their season in the York Tournament. In the opening round, they got 26 combined points from James Evans-McQuay and Ahmir Ellzy in a 70-50 loss to Reading. In the consolation, Ellzy and Evans-McQuay each netted 10 points while Cole Johnson added 15 in a 64-51 loss to Williams Penn. The Millionaires then gave up a 26-15 halftime lead at Abington Heights but regrouped to force overtime and eventually got a winning shot at the buzzer for a 48-46 victory. Evans-McQuay led the way with 18 points while Johnson added 12. On Friday night against powerhouse Crestwood, the Cherry and White lost to the Comets 61-35.
See you in the bleachers !
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