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Last updated: March 10. 2014 11:32PM - 2973 Views

William Hierro, center, of Hazleton Area takes a shot between Stroudsburg defenders Ryan Brandt, left, and Evan Choy during the first round of the PIAA boys 4A championships at Berwick on Saturday.
William Hierro, center, of Hazleton Area takes a shot between Stroudsburg defenders Ryan Brandt, left, and Evan Choy during the first round of the PIAA boys 4A championships at Berwick on Saturday.
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HAZLETON AREA (22-4) vs. CHESTER (23-5)

PIAA Class 4A Second Round

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Bethlehem Freedom H.S.

What’s At Stake: The winner advances to the quarterfinals on Saturday, playing the winner of the game between District 1 fourth seed West Chester Rustin (18-10) and District 11 champion Parkland (22-5). Those teams play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Geigle Complex in Reading.


How They Got Here: District 1 champ Chester posted a 79-38 victory over D3 seventh seed Carlisle in the first round. District 2 champion Hazleton Area defeated D11 third seed Stroudsburg 63-53.


Scouting Hazleton Area: The Cougars will be playing in the state second round for the first time since the 2006-07 season when they were eliminated 63-52 by D3 fifth seed Wilson. Between that season and this season, their only other state appearance ended in a 70-51 first-round knockout by D3 champion Reading in 2009-10.


Hazleton Area fell behind by five points late in the third quarter against Stroudsburg, which was missing its top scorer — 6-foot-6 Danny Cuevas. The Cougars took control in the fourth quarter by outscoring Stroudsburg 24-10 for a 63-53 victory.


Hazleton Area went inside early with Cuevas out, but received little offensive production. The Cougars d0n’t match up inside with Kyle Karmonick and Reynal Santana — a pair of 6-foot-3 forwards — the tallest starters. Hunter Samec, a 6-6 senior, brings size off the bench.


Of course, Hazleton Area’s forte is its perimeter game. Senior Sal Biasi, the two-time WVC Division I MVP, scored 28 against Stroudsburg despite playing on an injured left ankle. Guards Jon Fogarty (14) and Brett Barron (12) also contributed offensively. Will Hierro did a nice job on the board coming off the bench.


About Chester: Since losing in the first round of the 2008-09 Class 4A playoffs and finishing 16-11, Chester has been on quite a roll. The Clippers won the 4A state championship in 2010-11 and 2011-12. They lost in the title game last season. Including this season, Chester is 114-10 since that 16-11 campaign.


Of Chester’s five losses, only the 73-62 setback to Interboro (10-11) on Feb. 4 is a head-scratcher. The Clippers had defeated Interboro by 20 points earlier in the season. They led Carlisle 20-19 after one quarter, but built the lead to 17 by halftime and held Carlisle to 15 points in the second half in the 79-38 victory.


Chester has a strong inside-outside combination in seniors Tyrell Sturdivant and Mahir Johnson. The 6-foot-8 Sturdivant averages 16 points and has committed to Division I Stony Brook. Johnson is a 6-2 shooting guard who hit for his season average with 19 vs. Carlisle. Marquis Collins, a 6-7 sophomore, and senior point guard Conrad Chambers also enter off big games.


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