It’s Friday, it’s cold, but we are up and the coffee is piping hot!
We had a great night of high school basketball action, we crowned another champion, and we have one to go as we head toward the District 2 playoffs.
OK, before I get too far ahead of myself, because the caffeine is pumping (Meghan must have thought I needed an extra scoop today), I want to say to all of the seniors out there, thank you. I don’t do it often enough, because we get so wrapped up in the intensity of the season. But, look, without you there is no local sports beat to cover. You all devote so much time, I do appreciate it.
During the last weeks of the season, I get to take in, and celebrate several Senior Night activities. They are all emotional, even for me. So, just remember, and pass along my many thanks to those who don’t read the Day after Games BLOG POST (and I can’t imagine that being too many). WINK!
And also, throughout the season, I have received very loud shout outs from the various Student Sections. Kids, it is humbling. Last night, as has been the case in gyms across the Lackawanna League, the Blue Ridge students yelled to me, this tattered, old sports writer. It reminded me how important this job is to you all. Again, I can’t thank you all enough, and I wish you all the best in your futures.
Speaking of Students. I had a pretty interesting night, to say the least.
After covering the Mountain View at Blue Ridge boys basketball game (more on that later), I got a text, inquiring my whereabouts? Normally, that is not a good sign. Apparently, some students needed a photo with me? Why? I have no idea. It’s not worth much, I wouldn’t think. I agreed to meet and have my photo snapped with one of these young scavenger hunters. Good luck!
CONSTANT AS THE NORTHERN STAR
After a win over Dunmore on Wednesday which all but locked up the Lackawanna Division III title, Mid Valley got to celebrate officially on its Senior Night. The Spartans rolled past Old Forge, 61-36, to win the championship.
Mid Valley, which had not won a Lackawanna League Division title in the first 44 years of the program, has now won two of the last four. There are 10 seniors on this team and in their four years of service, the Spartans have 90 wins. They have also won three Cal King Championships, four Peter Turonis/PNC Bank Tournaments, a District 2 Class 2A championship and been to the PIAA playoffs three times.
What more can you say about the job coach Mike Abda has done? Mid Valley is 141-43 in the seven years since he took over as head coach. The Spartans will enter the District 2 Class 3A playoffs as the No. 1 seed.
ONE MORE GAME
Last night, I traveled to Blue Ridge for the Division IV regular-season finale. Again, the Raiders had Senior Night activities. Sometimes, I rarely get the opportunity to cover too many Lackawanna Division IV games, basically because of logistics.
This season, however, I have been at three Blue Ridge boys games. There were a lot of seniors honored. It resonates with me. These kids have really poured their souls into making this a great season at Blue Ridge. And listen, the team has had a tough hand dealt to it this week. Back-to-back games against Holy Cross left the Raiders battered and bruised. But there is still the matter of the Division IV championship. In order to get a shot at first-half winner and defending champion Elk Lake, Blue Ridge had to win Thursday night’s game. There were tense moments as Mountain View played hard for four quarters. Why? Because it had a chance at the second-half title too.
In the end, Blue Ridge had too much Jeff Morris, Ian Townend had big plays and Mike Allen hit another clutch 3-pointer — he has had a knack for doing that at games I attend — and the Raiders won, 53-46.
Here are the highlights:
Lackawanna League Division IV Championship
Elk Lake vs. Blue Ridge
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Valley View High School
OK, so the result sets up an all-season playoff game between Blue Ridge and Elk Lake on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Valley View High School.
Interesting matchup considering the legacy of the two programs. Elk Lake has a couple of state championships in its history in 1969 and 1977, and has won five Lackawanna Division championships since 2008. Blue Ridge has a record in the Lackawanna League of 60-73 in that time and have played in only one playoff game which came in the first half of the 2010-11 season.
Elk Lake won the first-half title and was hitting its stride. But Griffin Bunnell, a 6-foot-5 senior center, fell to an injury after scoring 19 points against the Raiders on Jan. 19. The Warriors have not been the same, going 6-4 in his absence.
Blue Ridge has played Elk Lake three times this season and won them all:
- Dec. 28: Blue Ridge 67, Elk Lake 65 (BR: Jeff Morris 28, EL: Ben Woolcock 22, Rierdan Reyan 21).
- Jan. 19: Blue Ridge 57, Elk Lake 55 (BR: Jeff Morris 20, Sam Cosmello 15, EL: Rierdan Reyan 19, Griffin Bunnell 19, Ben Woolcock 13).
- Feb. 2: Blue Ridge 75, Elk Lake 62 (BR: Jeff Morris 26, Jarred Mills 12, Mike Allen 10, EL: Rierdan Reyan 20, Ben Woolcock 13).
Again, this game is for the Division IV title. It will have no impact on the District 2 seeding in terms of locking into a top seed. That belongs to Holy Cross, which beat Blue Ridge twice this week.
LOOKING AT DISTRICTS
OK, Hazleton Area has one game remaining against Meyers at home tonight to complete its 22-game schedule. NOTE: Meyers beat rival GAR, 66-55, last night, so back-to-back games will be a challenge.
As of press time today, that game could have a significant impact on the District 2 Class 6A chase for the No. 1 seed. I am not a math major, so I will leave that up to those who crunch the numbers.
What I do know is Scranton and Delaware Valley are locked into the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. They will be paired up against Hazleton Area and Williamsport, the District 4 representative. This is a subregional, so if Williamsport wins the championship, District 2 will hold a championship game between the two teams which lost to the Millionaires. CLASS 5A
While nothing is official until Mike Ognosky signs off, the pairings are set based upon the Power Rating standings released by piaad2.org.
These are only PROJECTIONS or as I like to call them EDUCATED GUESSES (But that might be giving me too much credit).
- No. 1 Abington Heights will open against No. 8 Wallenpaupack
- No. 2 Crestwood will play No. 7 Pittston Area
- No. 3 West Scranton will play No. 6 North Pocono
- No. 4 Wyoming Valley West will play No. 5 Dallas.
Now, we still have a game to play remember with Meyers facing Hazleton Area tonight. So nothing here has been completed. And then there will be this little thing called the WVC Division II title that might need to be resolved. I believe that would take place this weekend, probably Sunday.
I emphasize again. … Playoff games needed to determined champions do not count toward a Power Rating.
So, let’s say Meyers holds onto the No. 2 spot, because a loss to Class 6A Hazleton Area shouldn’t greatly impact its Power Rating. Though, it might. For argument’s sake, let’s project Meyers as no worse than the No. 2 seed and would play Valley View, and GAR stays the No. 3 and will play No. 6 Berwick. Just reverse those matchups if GAR leaps ahead of Meyers for the No. 2 seed.
What we do know:
- No. 1 Scranton Prep will open against No. 8 Tunkhannock
- No. 4 Nanticoke will play No. 5 Wyoming Area
Sites and times will be announced Sunday.
Top 8 qualify
Everybody has completed their 22 games. Mid Valley is the No. 1 seed and “unofficially” the pairings look like this:
- No. 1 Mid Valley vs. No. 8 Lakeland
- No. 2 Dunmore vs. No. 7 Riverside
- No. 3 Holy Redeemer vs. No. 6 Montrose
- No. 4 Wyoming Seminary vs. No. 5 Carbondale Area
Sites and times will be announced Sunday.
OK, again, I am not official, but this looks locked in unless something cooky happens — And it always does. The Blue Ridge vs. Elk Lake game does not impact the 22-game Power Rating and there is no preference given to division champions, so we can project these to be the “unofficial” pairings:
- No. 1 Holy Cross vs. No. 8 Forest City
- No. 2 Blue Ridge vs. No. 7 Lackawanna Trail
- No. 3 Mountain View vs. No. 6 Old Forge*
- No. 4 Elk Lake vs. No. 5 Northwest Area*
* NOTE: There is a narrow margin between Northwest Area and Old Forge, and Northwest Area has a game against Montoursville (9-12) tonight. Northwest Area and Old Forge could flip-flop. So that game tonight is important. CLASS 1A
This is a subregional with District 11. Susquehanna locked in the District 2 berth into the playoffs. Remember, unless Susquehanna wins the subregional tournament, there will be a District 2 championship game, so MMI Prep is not eliminated. Remember the important dates for the tournaments folks. Again, this is not an open tournament, so we are playing on neutral courts to start next week:
COACHES vs. CANCER
It was another great fundraising effort by NEPA. Scranton Prep coach Andrew Kettel is sending out this reminder about this year’s gala which will honor cancer survivor Patty Lynett: _______________________________________________________________________________
That is all for today.
I am off the court for a few days, and jumping into the pool (well, not literally) as I cover the Les Richards Championships this weekend.
However, I will have tournament updates as soon as the brackets are “OFFICIAL” so stay tuned.
Have a great weekend and as always. … ENJOY!