High school sports don’t get much better than Tuesday. Not just boys basketball, but any high school sporting event.
Hazleton Area at Crestwood. The place will be packed. The place will be nuts. The Wyoming Valley Conference Division I championship could be decided when the two rivals meet.
“It’s just another game,” Crestwood coach Mark Atherton said.
Of course, he was joking.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Atherton continued. “Last game, both teams had great support and in the end, they came out by three points. It’s a great, fun rivalry and we’re looking forward to the chance to meeting them at our place.”
Certainly no bulletin board material there. Not like the Cougars need any extra incentive when it comes to playing Crestwood.
Hazleton Area defeated Crestwood 60-57 on Jan. 17 before a crowd that Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said brought back memories of the frenzied Hazleton atmospheres of years past. It was also a game typical of many played between them.
In the past 25 meeting, 16 of which have been won by Hazleton Area:
• The margin of victory has been three points or less eight times, and in single digits 15 times.
• Five of the last eight meetings have been decided by six points or less.
• Four of those 25 games were special playoffs for the divisional title.
• Only twice have there been blowout victories by 20 or more. Both times Hazleton Area was the victor.
Crestwood senior forward Chris Fazzini has been there for many of them, first as a spectator watching brothers Adam and John play and the past four seasons as a player.
“It was a game I loved watching as a kid. It’s a game I’ve loved playing in the past three years,” Fazzini said. “I could only hope there is a crowd like there was at Hazleton for the game Tuesday night.”
Don’t worry, there will be for sure.
The WVC enters its final week of the regular season with all three divisional crowns up for grabs. Two could be decided Tuesday.
In Division I, Hazleton Area (12-0) is at Crestwood (11-1). A Hazleton Area victory would lock up the title. If Crestwood wins, probably the best the Comets could hope for is a tie.
On Thursday, Hazleton Area is at Berwick, and the Cougars defeated the Dawgs 93-42 two weeks ago. Crestwood travels to Tunkhannock on Thursday. The Comets won the first meeting 64-46. But if Tunkhannock can tighten up its defense inside and shoot better than in that Jan. 29 game, it could be a tough night for Crestwood.
GAR (11-0) can with the Division II title Tuesday with a victory against visiting Holy Redeemer (9-2), the only team with a chance to catch the Grenadiers. If Redeemer wins, it needs GAR to lose to Meyers on Thursday. The Royals play Thursday against Wyoming Area, which has lost 26 consecutive games, so they shouldn’t have too much trouble taking care of the Warriors.
In Division III, Meyers (9-2) leads Hanover Area (8-3). Meyers is a big favorite over Northwest on Tuesday, while Hanover Area has a tough game against Lake-Lehman. So things could be sorted out prior to Thursday’s finales. If not, then the roles are switched Thursday with Meyers drawing GAR and Hanover Area getting Northwest.
If any divisions remained tied after Thursday (weather permitting, of course), look for any needed divisional title games to be played Saturday. The District 2 tournaments start Feb. 18-19, and with divisional champions getting priority in the seedings, the district probably won’t want the regular season to extend past Saturday.
Been a long time
Dallas’ 84-80 victory over Tunkhannock on Friday was the most points the Mountaineers scored in their last 232 games. You have to go back to Dec. 18, 2004, to find a higher offensive output. That was when Dallas defeated West Side Tech 96-32.
Like other teams this season, Dallas was able to exploit the undersized Tigers inside, with 6-foot-6 junior Allen Fell scoring 29 points and 6-8 sophomore Suk Mathon adding 20. While the Mountaineers (7-13) probably won’t make it to the D2-3A semifinals, that size could cause matchup problems in the earlier rounds and could lead to an upset of a higher seed.
Lake-Lehman guard Adam Dizbon dislocated his left shoulder on Jan. 28 against GAR. Three days later, he scored 10 points against MMI Prep, and followed with two solid performances against Holy Redeemer and Wyoming Seminary.
“It was surprising,” Lehman coach Brian Cutter said. “He was supposed to go to the (orthopedist) the next day and I thought they would say it would be two or three weeks. And the orthopedic surgeon said `Are you sure it was popped out all the way because you have full range of motion?’ It’s going to take a while to heal.”
If you were at the GAR game, you didn’t need a medical degree to see Dizbon’s shoulder wasn’t in the right spot.
Most medical websites say the recovery time from a dislocated shoulder is between 3-12 weeks. Dizbon, though, was aggressive as ever against Redeemer.
Another to 1,000
Crestwood’s Chris Fazzini became the latest WVC player to reach 1,000 points for his career in Tuesday’s 71-31 victory over Coughlin. He joins Lake-Lehman’s Pete Borum and GAR’s Isaiah Francis.
What makes the feats of Fazzini and Francis more impressive is that both are unselfish players who do a great job distributing the ball to their teammates. As for the 6-foot-6 Borum, he plays under the basket, so passing isn’t one of his primary objectives. However, rebounding is and he recorded the 1,000th of his career Friday against Wyoming Seminary.
Since the smaller Catholic school disappeared from the landscape after the 2005-06 season because of mergers, Old Forge has dominated District 2 Class A. The Blue Devils have won six of seven D2-A championships since then, with Susquehanna breaking up the run in 2011-12.
All four teams in the D2-A bracket have losing records, but the Blue Devils (8-11) appear to be the favorite. Or are they?
Don’t count out MMI Prep (8-11). The Preppers have lost two of their last three, but those losses were close to quality teams — 53-49 to Lake-Lehman and 58-55 to Holy Redeemer.