Two seasons ago, Meyers had the team.
Two standout juniors — Ryan Krawczeniuk and Rasheed Moore — both of whom are currently playing at the Division II college level. A transfer from Wyoming Valley West named Eugene Lewis, who could be playing college basketball if he wasn’t a wide receiver at Penn State. A capable, athletic point guard in Fabian Smith. And a nice group of role players.
Everything was in place to make a deep run in the PIAA Class 2A playoffs. Everything came crashing down in a second-round loss.
Timing — even more than talent sometimes — can be more important to how far a team advances.
District 2 champion Meyers (21-7) will try to take the next step at 2:30 p.m. Saturday when it plays District 12 third seed Delaware Valley Charter (19-7) at Allentown’s Allen High School in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals. The winner plays Tuesday against the winner of the 1 p.m. opener at Allen between D2 runner-up Holy Cross (22-6) and D1 champion Constitution (25-5).
Meyers coach Pat Toole dipped even further back into Meyers history to dig out how things could go wrong for a very good team.
“Eighteen years ago, Meyers had a team and the star player was Dave Jannuzzi,” Toole said. “Everybody thought that was the team Meyers was going to make a run in states. They got beat. The next year, they had a team that struggled all through the playoffs that went down and upset Trinity at Martz Hall and ended up going to the state championship game. They lost to Aliquippa. That was 17 years ago.
“You just don’t know how you’re going to get there. It’s the luck of the draw. There are so many things that go into the matchups.”
By winning the District 2 title, Meyers avoided the upper part of the bracket’s heaviest hitter in Constitution. The Mohawks took care of an undersized and outmanned Towanda team in their state opener 48-35 and then defeated D12 runner-up West Catholic 51-41 on Wednesday.
West Catholic plays in the powerful Philadelphia Catholic League, but didn’t resemble the behemoths that league produces annually. West Catholic was — at best — more of a third-place team in Division I of the Wyoming Valley Conference.
That’s not to say Meyers is in the quarterfinals due to shear luck. The Mohawks made it there by defeating some quality teams in the District 2 tournament, including Mid Valley and Holy Cross, and by playing stellar defense since a 46-42 victory over GAR seven games ago.
“This team has accomplished more than I could have dreamed off at the beginning of the season,” Toole said. “Everyone asks me what happened. They just decided they wanted it and bought into their roles. They’re all doing good things at their positions. And we’re taking better care of the basketball.”
Senior forward Tyriek Steward, the WVC Division III MVP, led the victory over West Catholic with 18 points. Guard Shahee Aurelus had 10 and 6-foot-5 center Ryan Wasley had a strong game inside with 10 points. Roles sometimes expand or contract based on the opponent. Reserves like guard Tyon Thomas and forward Dominic Pittman didn’t see a lot of playing time against West Catholic, but have in other games and produced.
DelVal Charter loves to shoot the three-pointers, so there may be a need for more quickness on Meyers’ perimeter defense. DelVal Charter isn’t overly big — three regulars check in at 6-3 — but is athletic and tenacious.
Junior Karl Lewis led the Warriors by averaging 10.2 points in the Philadelphia Public League. But in a 46-45 victory over Loyalsock on Wednesday, junior DaShon Giddings (11 points) and senior Darius Wallace (10) stepped up. Wallace hit a game-winning three with 19 seconds remaining.
It’s been that way all season for DelVal Charter. Different game, different player. So that kind of balance could make it difficult for Meyers today.
‘They’re good,” Toole said. “They don’t quit. They’re all over the place, they’re athletic. … They have a lot of balance. There’s not one guy who jumps out and you say ‘He’s their best player.’ They have about six or seven different guys.”