WILKES-BARRE — As Dallas’ Chad DeBona slapped away Holy Redeemer’s final hopes Wednesday, he didn’t immediately join the celebration.
Instead, the senior guard walked to the bench while his teammates and classmates from the crowd formed a jubilant mob. Relief rather than happiness was his first emotion after Dallas edged Redeemer 57-56 in the first round of the District 2 Class 3A boys basketball playoffs.
DeBona hit what proved the game-winner at 1:14, nailing a three-pointer from the left of the key for the 57-56 lead. He also missed the front of a one-and-one and two more free throws in the finals 30 seconds that gave Redeemer three cracks at the lead.
“It was just like the Tunkhannock game,” DeBona said. “I missed one at the end and I was able to get the rebound and the time ran out. I knew even if I miss that, my team would have my back and play great defense. You can hear them celebrating now.”
DeBona missed his two free throws with 12.5 seconds left, and Redeemer’s John Kane grabbed the rebound. After a timeout, the Royals tried to get guard Lenny Radziak free on a screen, but Dallas committed a non-shooting foul with 6.1 seconds remaining.
That gave Redeemer one more chance, and the Royals put the ball in the hand of guard Darius Washington. The left-handed Washington tried to drive the left side of the lane, but Dallas altered his path and shot just enough. As the rebound bounced in the backcourt, DeBona poked it down the court as the buzzer sounded.
“When we got the ball on the sideline after our last timeout, that went just the way we wanted it to, perfect,” Redeemer coach Paul Guido said. “We did it just like we drew it up. … We screened for Darius to get the ball and penetrate there and go to his left because he’s a left-handed player. We just couldn’t get that one to go.”
Dallas (10-13) became only the second 11th seed to win the D2-3A opening round in the 10 seasons the district has conducted an open tournament. The Mountaineers will play third-seeded GAR (18-5) on Friday at a site and time to be determined. Sixth-seeded Redeemer ended its season at 13-10.
The game featured 12 lead changes, with Redeemer on top for the last time 56-54 when Radziak netted a three-pointer with 1:28 to play. Dallas, though, took the lead for good 14 seconds later when 6-foot-8 Suk Mathon founded things gummed up inside and passed to perimeter to DeBona for a three-pointer.
Mathon had 13 points — second to DeBona’s 15 — but his main contribution was on the glass. He hauled down 17 rebounds, including two in the final 30 seconds after Redeemer misses.
“Rebounds, blocked shot. He’s so long he affects everything,” Dallas coach Doug Miller said. “He didn’t have a big night offensively, but when started getting the ball inside to the bigs we told them every possession the bigs have to touch the ball. The bigs touched the ball and we did good things.”
Allen Fell, a 6-6 junior, added 12 for Dallas. Radziak had 20 and Washington added 12 to paced Redeemer.
Dallas 57, Holy Redeemer 56
DALLAS (57) — Chad DeBona 6 1-6 15, Stephen Wempa 1 1-2 3, Allen Fell 3 6-6 12, Matt Ross 2 0-0 6, Suk Mathon 5 3-4 13, Omar Nijmeh 3 0-0 8. Totals 20 11-18 57.
HOLY REDEEMER (56) — Mike Boutanos 2 0-0 4, Len Radziak 7 2-4 20, Darius Washington 5 0-0 12, Mike Prociak 4 1-2 9, John Kane 4 0-0 8, Jerry Busch 0 0-0 0, Jim Slavinski 1 0-0 3, John Carr 0 0-0 0, Justin Renfer 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 3-6 56.
Three-point goals — DAL 6 (DeBona 2, Ross 2, Nijmeh 2); HR 7 (Radziak 4, Washington 2, Slavinski).