DUNMORE — The way its season played out, Wyoming Valley West should not have expected to find any luck or good fortunes its way. Injuries decimated a Spartans lineup that hadn’t seen a consistent starting lineup in its last five games.
And so Scranton’s Sean Padden’s circus-style half-court shot at the third quarter buzzer was just another one of many unpleasant surprises this season. On the heels of a charge call that would have otherwise tied the game at 42 apiece, Padden managed to corral a loose ball and hurl a two-handed overhead shot between two defenders that kissed the glass before going into the net.
Padden’s shot pushed Scranton to a 51-49 victory over Wyoming Valley West on Thursday in a District 2/4 boys basketball quarterfinal at Dunmore High School. It downplayed a 16-point comeback after a torrid start by the Spartans in the first quarter.
“When he hit that above the three-point line with a two-handed launch, I almost had a palpitation,” Wyoming Valley West coach George Reimiller said. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me; it’s going to be one of those nights.’ If that kid doesn’t make that at the buzzer with the two-hand shove, we would have won.”
Even down by as many seven in the fourth quarter, Reimiller’s team faced two chances to either send the game to overtime or move to a semifinal matchup at Williamsport.
Steve Doroskiewicz tied the game at 49-49 with 70 seconds left from a baseline pass from Mike Sands. Scranton’s Sadeed Johnson landed a right-handed hook shot with 21.4 seconds remaining.
Evan McCue launched a three for the lead but it rattled off the front rim and out of bounds with 0.7 seconds left. Wyoming Valley West finally — for once — caught a break when Scranton’s inbound pass miraculously hit Dunmore’s low-rising ceiling to give the Spartans’ an inbound chance from under the basket. A pass to Jamie Calloway was deflected by a defender and out of bounds to end the game.
“I give my kids a lot of credit,” Reimiller said. “After that first quarter, they didn’t bite the bullet. We had two shots to win it in the end. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. That’s basketball. With the injuries we had this year, I’m proud of these kids.”
Things could not have started out worse for the Spartans. Scranton scored the first 15 points of the game, and Wyoming Valley West failed to get a rebound during the first 5:30 of the contest.
The Spartans changed things up defensively, and the second quarter played out like total contrast of the first eight minutes. Wyoming Valley West’s zone defense swiped seven second quarter steals. A 19-4 run was capped by a Mike Sands layup from a full-court Hason Milton pass to push Wyoming Valley West within one at 25-24 with 1:30 left in the first half.
“We did a lousy job of playing man to man,” Reimiller said. “Once we started changing our 2-3 and 32 defense and looking into the corners for the passes. Once we started rotating because they kept slipping someone into the lane, it was a different game.
“Every situation we worked on, every play we ran worked except for the man-to-man. And I could kick myself in the dupa for starting out that way because we’ve been a zone team all year with the injuries we had.”
The Spartans took the lead for the first and only time (28-27) when Jamie Calloway drove the lane for an old-fashioned three-point play 1:40 into the second half.
Mike Baur proved to be a difference maker for the Spartans behind the boards. Baur finished with a game-high 10 rebounds. Jamie Calloway scored 20 points on three treys. Sands finished with 12 points.
Scranton’s Cody Miller scored 16 points. Kyle Pieczynski was three rebounds away from a double-double with 12 points.
Scranton 51, Wyoming Valley West 49
WYOMING VALLEY WEST (49) — Hason Milton 0 0-0 0, Jamie Calloway 5 7-7 20, Mike Sands 5 0-0 12, Steve Doroskiewicz 4 0-0 8, Evan McCue 2 1-2 6, Mike Baur 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 8-9 49.
SCRANTON (51) — Jayvon Nickson 2 0-0 4, Sean Padden 3 2-2 10, Cody Miller 6 0-0 16, Sadeed Johnson 4 0-0 9, Kyle Pieczynski 6 0-0 12. Totals 21 2-2 51.
Wyoming Valley West`5`19`16`9`—`49
Three-point goals — WVW 7 (Calloway 3, Sands 2, Doroskiewicz, McCue); SCR 7 (Miller 4, Padden 2, Johnson).