District 2 Basketball Tournament (Boys 5A Preview)

Written by: on Monday, February 17th, 2020





(1) Wallenpaupack (20-2) vs. (8) Honesdale (9-13)

(4) Crestwood (18-7) vs. (5) Pittston Area (15-8)

(2) Abington Heights (16-6) vs. (7) North Pocono (11-11)

(3) Dallas (17-6) vs. (6) West Scranton (13-9)


FAVORITES:  Wallenpaupack, Abington Heights            

KEEP AN EYE ON:  Crestwood, Dallas            

DON’T COUNT OUT:  West Scranton, Pittston Area             

BEST QUARTER-FINAL:  Dallas vs. West Scranton              

BEST SEMI-FINAL:  Wallenpaupack vs. Crestwood 


     From the earliest days of the 2019-2020 hoops season, local fans have been pointing to the Boys 5A classification as being one of the most competitive brackets seen in a long time.  And certainly, after perennial district winner Abington Heights began the new year with a 4-5 mark, the anticipation only grew.  This group of teams definitely represents some of the best talent among all of District 2.  Three of the squads (Crestwood, Abington Heights, and Wallenpaupack) are division winners and two others (Pittston Area and Dallas) were in strong contention.  Without question, this is going to be an extremely fun bracket to watch unfold.  Fortunately, three teams will be advancing to the state playoffs so there is opportunity for semi-final losers to play their way back.  Wallenpaupack, the #1 seed, came within a few points of a perfect season mark.  The Buckhorns began the season 9-0 before dropping mid-season division crossover losses to Abington Heights (33-32) and Scranton Prep (51-45).  They finished the season on a 7-game winning streak.  Paupack has a stellar outside-inside combo which is difficult to defend.  Elijah Rosenthal, a 1,000-point scorer, is their senior guard who averages 21 ppg (including 76 triples).  Their 6-7 versatile senior center, Gabe Springer, hits 11.3 ppg.  Gerald McGrath (6.8 ppg, 40 triples) is another experienced senior in their lineup.  They also have a sophomore point guard, Jack Smith (6.3 ppg), who has 26 triples on the season.  Abington Heights, the #2 seed, has steadily worked their way up the 5A seedings.  After their slow start, the Comets won 12 of their final 13 games, including hitting a season-high 69 points in the season finale in which they defeated top rival Scranton Prep to win the division title.  Abington Heights had some big scoring shoes to fill this year and despite their offensive outburst against Prep, this is a team that is quite comfy keeping things to a deliberate 46 ppg pace.  It’s been a work-in-progress, but this team has developed some good floor chemistry.  Senior guard Corey Perkins (12.2 ppg, 33 treys) along with 6-4 senior center Mike Malone (6.5 ppg) have plenty of playoff experience.  Joining them are a duo of juniors, guard Kyle Nealon (8.2 ppg, 36 triples)and 6-5 forward Harry Johnson (6.5 ppg) plus senior guard Phil Johnson (5.2 ppg).  Nealon has become a key scorer throughout the season.  Dallas, comes in at the #3 seed.  The Mountaineers struggled a bit in early January, losing 3 of 5 games, but since bounced back to win 8 of their final 9 games.  They were among a 4-team tie for the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 lead but got crushed by Crestwood (82-54) in the tiebreaker semi-finals.  So, there is no question that they are looking to rebound in the playoffs.  Dallas has a terrific pair of senior forwards in 6-4 Jack Farrell (14.4 ppg, 22 triples) and 6-3 Luke DelGaudio (8.4 ppg).  On the perimeter, a duo of sophomore guards both average in double figures, point Nick Nocito (11.3 ppg, 36 treys) and Austin Finarelli (12 ppg, 26 treys).  They are joined by senior Dylan Schuster.  One of the hottest teams coming into the district playoffs has got to Crestwood, the #4 seed.  The Comets are another team that had a mid-January slump, but fought their way into the division playoffs where they rolled over Dallas and Wilkes-Barre Area (52-31 for the title).  Two of their season losses were to powerhouse Wyoming Seminary, including Saturday’s WVC Championship game (55-52).  Crestwood features a lineup of superb ball-handlers and excellent long-range shooters (over 170 team triples !!!).  Not a lot of height on their roster, but they play tall and are well-coached.  Junior point guard Marcus Vieney gets things going.  He’s extremely quick and contributes 6.8 ppg.  He is joined in the backcourt by another pair of juniors, Ryan Petrosky (13.9 ppg, 40 treys) and Jacob Zaleski (11.3 ppg, 31 triples).  Junior guard Mike Zaleski (6.3 ppg, 20 triples) will come into game a make a big impact.  Senior 6-3 forward Brad Papura nets 6.8 ppg while versatile Paul Feisel adds 8.1 ppg and has a great outside shot (47 treys).  The Comets may be the #4 seed, but they have the talent to win a district championship.  Pittston Area, the #5 seed, has been one of the great hoops’ stories of the season, from their exceptional success under first-year head coach Al Semenza, to breaking an incredible 30-game losing streak to Hazleton Area.  The Patriots have a pair of wins over Wilkes-Barre Area and one over Crestwood.  They have a balanced, experienced lineup featuring a trio of senior guards, Brennan Higgans (11.8 ppg, 24 triples), Mike George (6.9 ppg, 22 triples), and Logan Booth (9.8 ppg).  JJ Walsh is a talented sophomore guard who hits 11.6 ppg and has over 50 triples.  They also feature 6-2 senior forward Andrew Krawczyk (5.3 ppg).  Coming in at the #6 seed is West Scranton guided by 500-game winner Jack Lyons.  The Invaders started out 9-2 before slumping with a 2-7 streak.  However, they finished the year strong with key wins over Scranton and Valley ViewWest is an athletic, streaky team that can present match-up problems.  Cayden Merrifield (junior guard) is terrific and leads the way with 18.1 ppg and 63 triples.  He is joined by junior Londell Wright (8.6 ppg, 29 triples) and senior Lewin Fernandez (6.4 ppg).  In the post, West has junior Brandon Barnes (6-2 forward, 7.7 ppg, 17 triples) and Nick Forsette (6-1 junior forward) who contributes 7.2 ppg.  North Pocono comes in at the #7 position, but don’t let their 11-11 record deceive you.  Six of their loses were in games in which they came up short by 5 points or less.  The Trojans feature four players scoring in double figures, 6-2 senior forward Robert Van Brunt (15.9 ppg, 40 treys), junior guard Zach Walsh (14.4 ppg, 46 triples), sophomore guard Ryan Ruddy (10.9 ppg), and 6-2 junior forward Damarco Maglio (10.4 ppg, 29 triples).  And the #8 seed, Honesdale, has a pair of strong forwards along with a senior guard in their lineup.  Joey Scarfalloto (6-4 senior forward, 13.8 ppg) and Jimmy Rodda (6-5 junior forward, 7.6 ppg) have 31 combined triples.  Chris Cespedes contributes 13.1 ppg from the perimeter.  The 5A tourney gets going on Tuesday night.  Three teams will advance to the state tournament.          



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