YATESVILLE – As bad as the third quarter was for Pittston Area, it could have been worse Tuesday night.
Except Crestwood never made it that way for the Patriots.
Instead, Pittston Area survived a brutal eight minutes – and a last-second three-point attempt by Crestwood – to hold on for a 39-36 victory in Wyoming Valley Conference Division I boys basketball.
Pittston Area (4-1 Div. I, 8-5 overall) will now get a crack at first place when it travels to Wyoming Valley West (5-0, 8-5) on Friday night.
The Patriots seemed poised to open up the game when Mason Gross increased their lead to 24-15 early in the third quarter. But Gross' basket would be just one of three shots Pittston Area attempted as it turned over the ball nine times in the period.
They're so good defensively, Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. You don't plan for that to happen, but you know there's a chance that it could. You just have to be able to weather the storm.
That storm never picked up any force. Crestwood (3-2, 8-5) hit just 2 of 13 shots in the third quarter and was able to slice just four points off the deficit.
I thought we picked up some intensity defensive in the second half, Crestwood coach Mark Atherton said, but our offense went south. In turning them over, we really didn't attack the basket or create anything. We just come down and basically dribble around the arc.
Still, Crestwood's struggles from the floor didn't ease Pittston Area's frustrations.
It's very tough, said Pittston Area center Mason Gross. The coaches talked about it. We had nine turnovers and just two (actually three) shots off. But we played great defense. It's was a team effort.
The effort extended to rebounding as Gross, James Emmett and James Tobisch had at least five boards each. Crestwood had just one player – Chris Fazzini – with more than three.
The Comets were 9 of 35 (26 percent) from the field through three quarters. They moved within one three times in the fourth quarter, the final on an inside basket by Fazzini that cut the deficit to 37-36 with 1:24 left.
But in the final minute, Crestwood missed two free throws that could have given it its first lead. The Comets followed with two three-point misses that would have tied the game.
If we're going to be a team that lives or dies by the arc, this is what happens to you, said Atherton, whose team was 4 of 15 from three-point range. We don't have much of an inside game.
Give Pittston Area credit. They played with energy and came up with bigger plays when they needed to.
CRESTWOOD (36): Brady Gallagher 2 0-0 6, Cole Wasco 2 1-2 6, Brian Markowski 2 0-2 5, Steve Roberts 5 3-4 13, Chris Fazzini 3 0-0 6, Robbie Hopkins 0 0-0 0, Brandon Cole 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 4-8 36.
PITTSTON AREA (39): Michael Schwab 1 1-2 3, Jay Crawford 0 0-0 0, James Emmett 3 1-2 7, James Tobisch 5 2-2 12, Mason Gross 4 1-1 9, Hassan Maxwell 1 0-0 2, Michael Delaney 2 1-1 6, Tyler McGarry 0 0-1 0. Totals 16 6-9 39.
3-Point Field Goals— CRE 4 (Gallagher 2, Wasco, Markowski); PA 1 (Delaney)