The District 2 exhibition season gets underway TONIGHT night with 20 boys’ and girls’ tilts to be played across the area. There are also 12 Tip-Off tourneys taking place throughout the region involving another 28 hoops teams (including Williamsport, a District 4 squad which competes through the 6A District 2/4 sub-regional). As always, there is tremendous excitement and renewed optimism at all 42 Wyoming Valley Conference and Lackawanna League member schools. Many of the perennial top-rated teams are replacing critical pieces of their lineup and will be using these December exhibition games to prepare them for league play and beyond. Losses at this point of the season, especially for those with challenging schedules, are building opportunities that pay dividends come March.
Abington Heights, a team which came oh-so-close to reaching Hershey last season, returns a core nucleus of that lineup, led by Jackson Danzig, George Tinsley, and Trey Koehler. But the Comets’ outside sparkplug and dominating center have graduated and so 747-career win head coach Ken Bianchi faces some challenges, namely on defense. However, the opportunity to run a more up-tempo offense might be tempting. Their opponent Friday night, Holy Cross, must also replace key contributors, but the Crusaders do bring back a strong duo in Pat Galvin and Tyler Mozeleski. Their head coach, Al Callejas, does a masterful job each season developing talent. Also Friday night, Wilkes-Barre GAR travels to play Delaware Valley. This is a great matchup of heavyweight competitors from the WVC and LL. The Grenadiers, anchored by their sensational point guard Will Johnson, are always an athletic squad. Meanwhile, the Warriors take the court after graduating their versatile playmaker Shane Acoveno. On Saturday, Scranton visits Crestwood. The Knights return several top players while the Comets graduated a ton of their scoring punch. Also Saturday, the Dallas Mountaineers, a rising squad with a sensational, deep backcourt, entertains Boy’ Latin Charter from Philly. The Mounts might not have the firepower to challenge state-ranked Hazleton in WVC Division 1 play, but they will be fun to watch. Speaking of fun, despite the fact that much of their starting lineup has moved on, don’t think for a moment that Scranton Prep is down or out. The Cavaliers return what any team would love to have, versatile length inside from Wes Simons and Leo O’Boyle. They visit Wilkes-Barre Meyers in what has become an intriguing annual tilt. Peeking into next week, Prep also travels to take on Hazleton Area. The Cougars have maturity, plenty of height, and seem to have any dilemma at the point position already figured out. And, most important of all, this is a hungry bunch. After facing recent disappointment in the district playoffs to the likes of Abington Heights and Williamsport, Mike Joseph’s squad is squarely focused on displaying their talents across the state come March.
There is also plenty of tourney action taking place this weekend. In Berwick, a strong Wyoming Seminary team joins the always-tough home Bulldogs at the Nespoli event. Carbondale and Honesdale, if they can navigate through their semi-finals, could provide a terrific clash in the Finan Tournament. And Williamsport once again takes part in the York Tourney. If the Millionaires can handle the host Bearcats, there is a possible date looming with defending 6A state champion Reading.
On the girls’ side, Friday night features a trio of must-see games. Dunmore now enters LAM (life after Maddie), but the Lady Bucks have plenty of talent returning. They travel to take on perennial contender Mount Carmel. Holy Cross, graduating an equally impactful player their own, visits Scranton. The Lady Crusaders return several key players. Scranton, another team minus their all-everything playmaker guard, has been building a very competitive team in recent years. Susquehanna Community, featuring a youthful, talented lineup heads to play Wyoming Area. The Lady Warriors have established a winning tradition and look to continue it behind the incredible play of 4-year starter Sarah Holweg. On Saturday night, Nanticoke Area hosts North Schuylkill. The Trojanettes must replace a pair of high-scoring all-star guards, but they look to find success with Lisa Radziak, Katie Butczynski, and Alyssa Lewis. Also on Saturday, North Pocono visits the Lehigh Valley to take on Allentown Central Catholic. Great matchup played in a legendary venue, Rockne Hall. Peeking into next week, several top games are on the slate including Dunmore at Scranton, Williamsport at Hazleton Area (who features top contributors in Maddie Mrochko and Marissa Trivelpiece). And Abington Heights entertains Holy Redeemer. That should be a great matchup.
In Girls’ Tourney action, Hazleton Area hosts the Lady Cougar event with Lake-Lehman, Abington Heights and Harrisburg. Northwest Area takes on Wellsboro in the Muncy Rotary Tourney. And, once again, WVW hosts a great tip-off event with Dallas, Honesdale, and West Scranton.
Enjoy the games, drive safely, and be sure to stop back throughout the weekend for more updates.