Saturday, July 26, 2014





Some questions to ponder entering the state tournament


March 07. 2013 12:00AM

By - jerzar@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6394






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Now that the Wyoming Valley Conference season and District 2 tournaments are over, it’s time to march on to states. Of course, there won’t be many footsteps to hear with only GAR and Meyers qualifying from the WVC.


So to fill the void, here are 10 questions that I asked myself before the locals return to action on Friday.


1. District 2 returned to open tournaments this season. Has you’re opinion changed on them?


Absolutely not. Teams should have to accomplish something … anything … during the regular season to qualify. The Class 3A and 2A tournaments were once again laden with lopsided losses in the first round.


In Class 3A, 16th-seeded Berwick lost by 44 to top-seeded Abington Heights. Dallas, the 15th seed, fell by 38 to second-seeded GAR. In Class 2A, No. 16 Carbondale lost by 28 to No. 1 Meyers, which was missing two starters. And 15th-seeded Northwest made a long trip to No. 2 Holy Cross and lost by 30.


Three of the No. 15 and No. 16 seeds couldn’t crack 40 points, with Northwest scoring only 20.


The bad news is since high school sports are done on a two-year cycle, we’re stuck with the open tournaments against next season. The good news is there is plenty of time to find a solution if desired.


2. Was the District 2 Class 4A title game between Wyoming Valley West and Scranton, two teams eliminated from state playoff contention, a good idea?


Whenever you can determine a champion on the court or field, it’s a good idea. Unfortunately, plenty of fans didn’t think that way as the crowd was sparse at Wilkes University. The Spartans and Knights, though, played hard despite knowing their seasons were about to end. It might take a few seasons for the game to catch on.


3. What happened to The Times Leader District 2 Top-10?


The rankings were on hiatus during the district playoffs. Here are the final rankings, with the previous ranking in parentheses. The only newcomer is Delaware Valley, which replaced Riverside in the 10th spot.


1. (2) Abington Heights, 25-2; 2. (3) Holy Cross, 23-5; 3. (5) Scranton, 20-6; 4. (1) Meyers, 23-3; 5. (6) Hazleton Area, 18-6; 6. (4) Mid Valley, 23-5; 7. (9) GAR, 17-9; 8. (7) Wyoming Valley West, 16-10; 9. (8) Scranton Prep, 17-8; 10. (NR) Delaware Valley 16-9.


4. Would Meyers have been better off finishing third in the District 2 Class 2A playoffs instead of second?


Yes and no. Finishing second meant the Mohawks played for the D2-2A title. But it also meant a tougher draw in the first round, traditional District 3 power Trinity.


Meanwhile, D2-2A champ Holy Cross and third-seeded Mid Valley will draw teams from District 4, an area not known for strong basketball programs. In the past 10 seasons, District 2 Class 2A teams are 12-6 against their District 4 counterparts in the first round. District 2 Class 2A teams are 4-10 against D3 teams in that same span.


5. How would you assess the overall play in the Wyoming Valley Conference this season?


Below average, and that’s just not my opinion. A few coaches and officials have mentioned the same. That’s not a knock on the kids out there on the court. The WVC was in a cycle where many teams had to field inexperienced lineups for one reason or another. The product suffered this season, but should be much better in 2013-14.


6. Why did the Lackawanna Conference sweep districts for the first time since the 2009-10 season?


The answer to Question 5 is one reason. Another is Lackawanna teams have a tendency to play within the framework of the gameplan more so than WVC squads. They also seemed to have more depth.


7. What D2 champion has the best chance to repeat next season?


Old Forge would be the easy choice. It doesn’t take a genius to rubberstamp the Blue Devils every season to win the rather weak Class A bracket.


Digging a little deeper, I would say Abington Heights. The Comets will lose three starters to graduation, but have the premier player up north back in J.C. Show. Plus, they have some big underclassmen ready to step up that will make them very tough inside.


8. Which teams are the early favorites to win WVC divisional titles in 2013-14?


Hazleton Area in Division I. The Cougars will have the premier player in the WVC in guard Sal Biasi plus five other guys who either started or contributed heavily to this season’s championship team.


GAR should repeat in Division II, although it won’t be as easy with big man Christian Skrepenak and guard Willie Winstead leaving. The division will be much tighter since Holy Redeemer, Lake-Lehman and Nanticoke relied greatly on underclassmen this season.


Meyers gets the nod in Division III, but I can see their 56-game WVC winning streak coming to an end. The inside-outside combination of Rasheed Moore and Ryan Krawczeniuk just can’t be replaced. Their departure could open the door a bit for Wyoming Seminary. The Blue Knights will have the best all-around player in the division next season in Seth Callahan.


9. What were the best and worst games you saw this season?


The best was Nanticoke’s 57-55 overtime victory over Wyoming Seminary on Jan. 25. Entertaining from beginning to end. Nanticoke tied it at the buzzer. Momentum swung several times, yet neither team could get a firm grasp on it.


The worst was GAR’s 35-27 victory over Holy Redeemer on Jan. 22. Both teams played well below their capabilities. The best team didn’t win; the team that didn’t play as badly as the other did. Both coaches admitted that afterward, although in a roundabout way. It also didn’t help that it was about 140 degrees in the GAR gym.


10. What is the worst part of the state basketball tournament?


The possibility of the dreaded trip to Shamokin High School. The facilities are great and parking is plentiful, but the school is one of the toughest places on the planet to find no matter how many times you’ve been there.


The Times Leader publishes a map to Shamokin High School every day. Go to the page with the puzzles. See the Minute Maze? Draw your car at the top and Shamokin High School at the bottom, and there you go. Believe me, it would beat using a GPS device.




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