WILKES-BARRE — All options were just about exhausted for GAR center Christian Skrepenak. Then Jahlil Harvey darted along the baseline.
A quick pass, a sweet shot and a lead. Then everything steadily crumbled from that midway point of the first quarter Friday night as GAR’s first trip to the PIAA boys basketball playoffs in three seasons amounted to nothing more than a cameo.
District 3 third seed Donegal methodically eased away from the Grenadiers, eventually turning the Class 3A first-round game into a 64-44 blowout at Holy Redeemer High School.
Donegal (27-2) moves to Tuesday’s second round, playing District 11 champ Allentown Central Catholic. District 2 runner-up GAR ended its season at 18-9.
“It’s just one of those years where we did some positive things,” GAR coach Paul Brown said, “and we ran into a buzzsaw with this team.”
Donegal was able to cut down the effectiveness of GAR’s top two scorers — 6-foot-10 Skrepenak and Wyoming Valley Conference Division II MVP Isaiah Francis. A 9-0 run reversed the Grenadiers’ final lead, 12-11 at 3:21 of the first quarter, for good.
Skrepenak finished with three points, all from the foul line. The Indians put a guy in front and behind the 330-pounder, a strategy that led to plenty of shoving and leaning but no points from the field.
Francis’ problems extended beyond Donegal’s defense. The 6-3 junior suffered an apparent broken finger in the first quarter and played with his right index and middle fingers taped together. He finished with four points after scoring in double figures in all four District 2 playoff games.
“You probably noticed every time he drove to the basket, he was driving left,” Brown said.
With neither top scorer contributing much, GAR found success from outside the arc. Harvey and Darius Washington netted two three-pointers each, keeping the Grenadiers within striking distance. A late burst by Donegal, though, bumped the advantage to 35-24 at halftime.
“I was a little surprised they made as many threes as they did tonight,” Donegal coach Ryan Butt said. “Give them credit. They came out and hit some big threes to keep them in it. But we knew we would keep fighting defensively to take some of those threes away.”
GAR had five treys in the first half, but only two in the final two quarters. And Donegal began to distance itself with a barrage of its own. The crushing blow came to end the third. After some nifty ball movement, Martin Dietrich swung free and nailed a three at the buzzer for a 50-36 lead.
“It was 11 points there and we still felt pretty confident,” Brown said.
Confidence waned not only on the three-pointer but on an 8-0 Donegal run to start the fourth that ended all comeback hopes. Jason Dietrich led that final run to finish with a game-high 26 points. Martin Dietrich, his twin brother, tossed in 17.
Willie Winstead scored nine to pace GAR in his final game in a Grenadier uniform. Harvey and Washington added eight each.
DONEGAL (64): Jason Dietrich 9 6-6 26, Dylan Housal 1 0-0 2, Martin Dietrich 6 1-4 17, Matt Foltz 5 1-2 12, Michael Banwell 1 2-4 5, Tommy Hatt 1 0-0 2, Chris Robinson 0 0-1 0, Jarrod Smith 0 0-0 0, Elijah Schlaybach 0 0-0 0, Neftaly Perales 0 0-0 0, Kris Trimby 0 0-0 0, Brandon Peters 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 10-17 64.
GAR (44): Isaiah Francis 2 0-0 4, James Holmes 2 0-0 6, Willie Winstead 4 0-0 9, Jahlil Harvey 3 0-0 8, Christian Skrepenak 0 3-6 3, Darius Washington 3 0-0 8, Lamont Twyman 1 0-0 2, Nigebo Francis 1 0-0 2, Greg Skrepenak 0 0-0 0, Tydus Winstead 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 3-7 44.
Three-point FGs: DON 8 (J. Dietrich 2, M. Dietrich 4, Foltz, Banwell); GAR 7 (Holmes 2, W.Winstead, Harvey 2, Washington 2).