Offensive efficiency in basketball can be measured in more than one way.
Pittston Area ran the floor at times while putting up the points it needed for 23 minutes Thursday night.
The Patriots then ran time off the clock in the fourth quarter to protect a lead and turn back Dallas, 49-39, despite not scoring a field goal in the final 9:11 of the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 game.
Pittston Area (7-3) won its seventh straight overall by again showing off its offensive versatility.
Patriots coach Alan Kiesinger said he was happy with his team’s play, even without adding any baskets from the floor in the fourth quarter when they took only three shots.
“I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half,” Kiesinger said. “They were in a junk defense and we decided we’re going to make them come out and play us man-to-man.”
A deeper look at the numbers showed Pittston Area still found ways to be effective.
The Patriots took 2:04 off the clock in one possession, taking the game to the midway point in the fourth quarter with a 43-32 lead.
“We decided to be patient and basically hold the ball,” Kiesinger said.
Pittston Area turned the ball over only seven times in the game and only three times before that long possession ended with 4:03 left, beginning a brief sloppy stretch.
Once they ceased scoring points two or three at a time, the Patriots still managed to go 8-for-12 from the line in the fourth quarter.
When the few turnovers allowed Dallas to creep within six points twice, Pittston Area bounced back at the line.
Mason Gross made six straight free throws in the final 55.5 seconds to finish with a game-high 18 points.
Gross and Hassan Maxwell played large roles in getting the Patriots out to a fast start. In addition to being the team’s top two scorers, Gross led the rebounding effort while Maxwell sparked the defense.
Gross grabbed 10 rebounds, including four on the offensive end. Maxwell had 16 points and a game-high five steals. Tyler McGarry chipped in with eight rebounds, James Emmett with eight points and three steals and Michael Schwab with six assists.
Gross opened the scoring with a 3-pointer. Chad DeBona answered to allow Dallas to tie the game, but once McGarry hit a 3-pointer 2:10 into the game for a 6-3 edge, the Patriots led the rest of the way.
Maxwell, who did his scoring in the transition game, and Gross had five points each for a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
“That’s what we talk about,” Maxwell said. “Just try to get the ball and run.”
Gross found Maxwell with a long outlet pass for a three-point play and 18-9 lead less than three minutes into the second quarter. Another 3-pointer by Gross off an in-bounds play with 2:02 left in the half gave Pittston Area its first 11-point lead, 27-16.
Emmett hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first 2:25 of the second half and the Patriots eventually built the lead as high as 13 four times in the second half with three of those times coming off drives by Maxwell.
Kiesinger praised Emmett and Maxwell for passing up more scoring opportunities when they had momentum in order to stick with the team goal of protecting the lead and dictating the pace.
“Really, the whole team does what I ask,” Kiesinger said.
Suk Mathon, a 6-foot-8 sophomore center, led Dallas with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.
The Patriots took a 2-0 division record into Saturday’s game against Tunkhannock, the first of three road games in five days. Pittston Area is at Crestwood Tuesday and Hazleton Area Wednesday in the make-up of a game that was called off last week because of cold weather.
Lake-Lehman 68, Wyoming Area 40
Wyoming Area’s Jeremy Zezza scored a team-high 14 points, including three from downtown to lead the Warriors in a losing effort against Lake-Lehman.
Pete Borum totaled 27 points in the Black Knights’ win. Adam Dizbon added 22 points in the victory.
Evan Musto had eight points, while Mike Gushka and Ryan Shuleski each had six points.