Good Thursday to you all!

OK, this isn’t funny. It isn’t funny at all!

As many of you know, I spent nine glorious days in Orlando, Florida on my bi-annual family vacation to Disney World. Sure the excitement is a little tempered now that Meghan and Grace have gone six times and are 16 and 13 years old as opposed to 7 and 4 when they started going and a giant Mickey Mouse left them awestruck, but the weather makes it all better.

This Polar Vortex is not for me!

Yes, we started our journey in a snow storm, but were welcomed in Orlando by temperatures in the 80s. Naturally, I went swimming on Dec. 5, just to say I went swimming in December. We did have some rough spots however, as an Arctic blast hit late in the week. The days went from being sunny with one day of rain and in the upper 70s to an almost frigid 62 on Friday. But, then it soared right back up to 72, 78 and 83 on the final three days of our adventure.

I’d love to bore you all to death with my tales on the high seas fighting pirates in the Caribbean, splashing through the water falls from high atop a mountain, days on a runaway train, journeys into space, a soaring ride around the globe through blue skies, and my darting and weaving Disney2016through masses of people, avoiding an abundance of strollers and motorized travel carts like I did defenders in my playing days, but that would just remind me of the wonderful time we all had. As we awaited our plane for the flight back to NEPA which had been blanketed by snow, I reflected back, repeating in my head how great it would be to stay in Florida. Those tricks played on my mind, when I realized, living in Florida and vacationing there are definitely two different things, and it’s the vacationing days we cherish. “That’s why we work,” I told my daughters. It’s those days, the smiles on their faces, the refreshing warm air of Florida, the sun, the food, that we strive to enjoy again some day and the reason why i am are right back in front of the lap top, restarting the engine so there can at least be a chance to revisit this experience. Maybe this stood as the final excursion for us all together. There are new challenges and explorations ahead for the girls as they both grow older, I remembered. So, despite the almost overpowering desire to stay and Grace saying, “You know, if you found a job in Orlando, I wouldn’t be upset,” we returned to our humble abode. Maybe the weather isn’t so great as the snow piles up and the temperatures plummet, but we are home, and there is great comfort in that, and knowing the goal is to return in two years.

Any way, we had to get right back in the saddle. The longer you procrastinate and revel in your freedom from work, the harder it is to get going again. So, Wednesday, I budgeted my next three weeks of assignments, then took in my first high school basketball game of the season. Williamsport at Abington Heights looked remarkably exciting on paper because of it being a rematch of last season’s District 2 Class 4A (then the largest class) title game, and because of the talent on the court, again this season. Also, Scranton Prep hosted Hazleton Area in a marquee matchup of district powerhouses, and Dunmore took on West Scranton in a traditional rivalry game between two proud programs. All in one night! Not a bad way to shake the post-vacation blues.

Abington Heights' George Tinsley scores against Williamsport. Photo by Butch Comegys

Abington Heights’ George Tinsley scores against Williamsport.
Photo by Butch Comegys

Williamsport looked every bit as athletic and quick as it did last season. Stanley Scott can still elevate, Qayyim Ali, a past Class 3A state champion high jumper, combines size and speed with his remarkable leaping ability, and Darryl Wilson is lightning quick. Their defensive intensity and fast-break offense had only one really dominant surge against the towering Comets, who are led by 7-foot center Seth Maxwell, 6-4 sophomore George Tinsley and 6-4 Jackson Danzig, who can also get up above the rim. The Millionaires took control of the intense battle with a 14-0 run the Comets hoped to avoid with execution. Eventually, Williamsport won the rematch, 58-47. Next week, the Millionaires will visit the Xavier Center to take on Scranton Prep. These are the types of preseason games you love to see, especially because all the games count in this new “Power System” being used to qualify teams for the District 2 playoffs in the classifications with more than eight schools. With this new system, every game counts and yes a loss hurts, but it hurts far less now when it comes against a program like Williamsport. Abington Heights will have to recover quickly as it faces La Salle College on Saturday at Muhlenberg College Memorial Hall.

Here are some highlights:

 

Also, Scranton Prep won a dramatic 73-72 game over Hazleton Area, which is expected to be Williamsport’s closest challenger in Class 6A. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 1 for a reason, and with the senior leadership of Logan Bailey, Paddy Casey, Brett Para and Nick Dende combining with junior center Wes Simons, they are an overwhelming contender even on the state level. Knowing that, the Cavaliers upgrade their schedule even more in the coming days as they play at state power Archbishop Wood on Saturday night at 7:30.

Dunmore, which lost a close game to North Pocono on opening night, clawed out a one-point win over West Scranton, 35-34. True, it looks more like a football score, but these teams play physical even on the basketball court. The Bucks, who are the pick as favorites by the coaches to win in the Lackawanna Division III, exacted a measure of revenge from last season when they lost 56-41 to West Scranton.

That’s a lot to digest on my first night back!

I got to doing some additional research, and decided to update you all on how the preseason Top 10 teams are doing so far this season. I will try to keep this feature all season.

HOW THE TOP 10 HAS FARED

Week 1

Rec

This week

Next

1. Scranton Prep

2-0

Beat Meyers, 77-65; Beat Hazleton Area, 73-72

Saturday at Archbishop Wood

2. Abington Heights

2-1

Beat Holy Cross, 56-33; Beat WVW, 85-43; Lost to Williamsport, 58-47

Saturday vs. La Salle College at Muhlenberg College

3. West Scranton

1-1

Beat Honesdale, 49-48: Lost to Dunmore, 35-34

Friday at Pittston Area

4. Dunmore

1-1

Lost to North Pocono, 44-40; Beat West Scranton, 35-34

Wednesday vs. Abington Heights

5. Mid Valley

2-0

Beat Montrose, 44-25; Beat Valley View, 60-39

Friday vs. North Pocono

6. Holy Cross

2-1

Lost to Abington Heights, 56-33; Beat Pittston Area, 55-43; Beat Valley View, 49-28

Friday vs. Holy Redeemer

7. Delaware Valley

1-1

Lost to GAR, 64-46; Beat Pocono Mountain East, 69-56

Friday vs. Tunkhannock

8. North Pocono

1-1

Beat Dunmore, 44-40; Lost to Pittston Area, 53-47

Friday at Mid Valley

9. Scranton

1-1

Beat Crestwood, 68-44; Lost to ES-South, 48-44

Tonight at GAR

10. Old Forge

0-2

Lost to Nanticoke, 68-46; Lost to Minersville, 57-47

Friday at Valley View, 5:30 p.m. (No JV)

 

Scranton Prep's Nick Dende scores against Meyers on opening night. Photo by Jason Farmer

Scranton Prep’s Nick Dende scores against Meyers on opening night.
Photo by Jason Farmer

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POWER RATINGS

With the new power ratings system in place, I could certainly spend all day doing math, but I strive to continue my quest of never having to use calculus again in my life. So, I shall let Mike Ognosky and Mid Valley AD Tommy Nowakowski maintain the standings on a district level, because they are a boat load smarter than I am.

Here is what the District 2 standings will look like at piaad2.org: 

D2Hoops

 

 

D2Hoops2

As you can see. … There are also teams relocated in the new six classification format. In classfications of more than 8 teams only 8 will qualify for the championships.

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WHAT’S AHEAD?

OK, so we are back at this full steam ahead. There are several, if not an abundance, of great early season games. I am going to try to get to as many as I can. Looks like I will be covering North Pocono at Mid Valley on Friday and on the road for No. 1 Scranton Prep at Archbishop Wood on Saturday, and if the weather cooperates, the Jerry Finan Memorial final on Sunday at Carbondale Area High School.

Winter Sports GuideOn Sunday, we publish our Winter Sports Guide. Look, Chris Imperiale (editor, layout), Conor Foley (design, layout), Shane Hennigan (wrestling)Marty Myers (girls basketball) and Herb Smith (everything in between) worked tirelessly on this over the past week while I took in the sun in Florida. They really put together an outstanding look at the winter sports teams and seasons. Check it out, because it’s really well done by these guys, again.

Then comes the Holiday tournament season. Herb is working night and day, and longer hours than Santa himself to get the schedule straight. If you are hosting a tournament and have not sent in your pairings, please do so to Herb via email at sports@timesshamrock.com.

That’s it for today. I will post as often as I can.

As always, ENJOY!