There’s nothing like the real thing. Pittston Area discovered that Friday night against Bishop McDevitt.
McDevitt broke from the gates at full gallop and never let up, routing the Patriots 77-42 in a PIAA Class 3A boys basketball first-round game at Wyoming Area High School.
District 2 runner-up Pittston Area (18-9) prepared for what was coming — an all-out, full-throttle tempo from the D3 third seed Crusaders (27-2). It dumped the Patriots into a 10-0 hole to start the game.
“In practice all week, we worked against their 1-3-1,” Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. “The personnel, it’s a little bit different when you get on the floor. But we didn’t always do what we worked on all week.
“We really wanted to be really patient and we weren’t. We took the first open shot. And they give a lot of open shots. They kind of suck you in with that. They give you open looks and if you’re not making them, you’re in trouble.”
The Patriots shot 3-of-25 in the first half, including 1-of-15 from three-point range. And, yes, that led to trouble. Plenty of trouble.
McDevitt had its transition offensive working to near perfection, leading to a 39-11 halftime lead. Dyllon Hudson-Emory, the Crusaders’ 6-foot-6 senior forward, punctuated the first-half onslaught with three consecutive dunks in the final two minutes before intermission.
“You get sucked into it because they give you open shots,” Kiesinger said. “They’re really not a good defensive team. I hope he doesn’t read our papers, but they just aren’t. They force you to play fast by giving you open looks because they figure they’ll just outscore you.”
That, McDevitt coach Jeff Hoke said, is pretty much the way it works. Open looks are fine as long as they are permitted during a frantic pace. It has led to the Crusaders scoring 80 or more points 13 times, including a 104-point game.
“Well, we try not to,” Hoke said. “They’re open looks … but they’re not in rhythm. They were a little nervous on the open ones. We thought they would come in a little nervous. When we’re flying at the ball, it isn’t as easy as you think it is when you’re stepping in when you’re open.
“No, we didn’t want to give them open looks. But we were OK giving them hurried looks.”
Mason Gross and Tyler McGarry, the Patriots’ top two scorers, combined for one field goal through three quarters as the deficit ballooned to 58-23 entering the fourth. The Patriots scored just seven baskets through three quarters. By contrast, Hudson-Emory had nine on the way to a game-high 24 points.
Gross, one of four seniors in the starting lineup, finished with 16 points. James Emmett had seven, while Hassan Maxwell and Mike Schwab added six each.
“They were here the second year I was the head coach,” Kiesinger said. “They were all in ninth grade and they were all pulled up to the varsity team as freshmen. They are the complete reason we were here. It’s nothing else. They listened all year, they believed in the system.”
McDevitt will play D11 champion Allentown Central Catholic (28-0) in the second round on Tuesday.