Feb. 22—Basketball coaches in the Wyoming Valley Conference have been spending just as much time monitoring weather forecasts as they have scouting reports over the last week or so.
Expect that to be the case again this week, as the conference heads toward the final days of the regular season. From the looks of it all, this week is a high school basketball fan’s dream. There is a game scheduled every day of the week through Sunday — the final day games can be played before the pairings for the district tournament are announced.
Unfortunately, due to crowd restrictions, the casual fan is going to miss out on the fun. Unless, of course, you can catch a game or two, or more, on a school’s YouTube channel.
There is still some meaningful basketball to be played. The Crestwood boys wrapped up the Division 1 championship with a win at Hazleton Area on Saturday night. In Division 2, Wyoming Seminary holds a two-game edge in the loss column over Lake-Lehman.
As far as the girls’ side of things, Hazleton Area is one game ahead of red hot Berwick, and Holy Redeemer and Lake-Lehman are tied in the loss column with two each in Division 2.
And that brings us to one of the changes this year: Should there be a tie in any of the division races, there aren’t plans for a playoff.
Due to the pandemic and the timing of the district playoffs and state tournament, time is not on the side of teams finishing tied atop their respective divisions.
As we get closer to the district tournament, the WVC will be struggling to get the top seed in just about all the classifications.
The Hazleton Area girls are currently the No. 1 seed in 6A. The other current top seeds are Holy Cross in 2A, Riverside in 3A, Scranton Prep in 4A and Abington Heights in 5A.
From the boys bracket, Wyoming Seminary in currently the top seed in 3A. After that, the Lackawanna League is in position to secure the remainder of the No. 1 seeds.
Elk Lake is the top seed in 2A, Scranton Prep leads 4A, Abington Heights leads 5A, while Scranton leads 6A. The Northwest boys are currently the 5th seed in 2A, while the Northwest girls are also the No. 5 seed based on the recent rankings.
Berwick’s Katie Starr reached a pair of milestones in her career. On Tuesday night, she scored the 1,000th point of her career. A few days later, she hit the mark again when she pulled down her 1,000th rebound. In the game where she reached the scoring milestone, she also grabbed 13 boards.
Starr joined Crestwood’s Ryan Petrosky and Lake-Lehman’s Max Paczewski as players in the conference who have reached the 1,000-point scoring milestone this season.
Friday is the deadline for any team wishing not to participate in the upcoming district tournament to formally opt out.
All first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal games of the district tournament will be played at the home site of the higher seed. For schools that permit fans to attend, the host school is to let the visiting team know of its procedures. If spectators and cheerleaders are permitted by the host school, at least 50% of the allowed capacity must be provided to the visiting team.
The championship games will be played at Mohegan Sun Arena. There are stipulations in regards to the travel party for teams advancing to the championship round. Each school will be allowed 12 players, an athletic trainer and two coaches on the bench for the game. All others must sit in a designated area in the stands.
Only district champions will advance to the state tournament.
Walking the gauntlet
The team that wins the girls Class 4A district championship will certainly have earned it. There may not be a tougher bracket to navigate in the eastern part of the state.
Scranton Prep and Dunmore are two of the best teams. Throw in Lake-Lehman, Berwick, Holy Redeemer, Valley View, Nanticoke Area and Tunkhannock, and it will be one of the most entertaining set of games the district has seen in a single classification in a long time.
Even though Wyoming Area slipped out of the top eight, the Warriors are capable of putting together a winning streak and making some noise if they get a shot.
All indications are pointing to a Scranton Prep vs. Dunmore final, but at this time of year anything can happen.
Proving once again he can teach more than RPOs and zone reads, Ted Jackson Jr. is back in the game coaching basketball. Jackson is the seventh grade coach at Wilkes-Barre Area, and the Wolfpack recently wrapped up an undefeated season.
The Wolfpack have plenty to look forward to in the future, and this year’s squad was led by Max Jackson and David Jannuzzi — two names you can expect to be hearing a lot from.
Leading the way
Wyoming Seminary’s Jake Koretz is the top scorer in the conference, averaging 24.1 points per game. Ryan Harder of Tunkhannock (18.3), Austin Finarelli of Dallas (18.2), Finarelli’s teammate Nick Nocito (17.7) and Cole Walker of Wilkes-Barre Area (16.9) round out the top five.
There have been 2,609 2-point baskets made and 946 3-pointers made. The conference as a whole is averaging 49.7 points per game and shooting 63.1% from the foul line.
Berwick’s Starr leads the girls scoring race with 16.5 points per game. The rest of the top five are Kallie Booth, Pittston Area (15.7); Helena Jardine, Crestwood (15.4); Gloria Adjayi, Wilkes-Barre Area (15.2); and Claire Dougherty, Lake-Lehman (15.0).
There have been 2,121 2-point baskets made and 618 3-pointers made. Teams are averaging 42.2 points per game and shooting 57.7% from the foul line.
A pair of coaches in the WVC reached milestones. Wyoming Seminary’s Pete Moses won the 100th game of his career when the Blue Knights defeated Hanover Area.
On Friday night, Holy Redeemer girls coach John Jezorwski picked up his 100th win with the Royals with a win over Hanover Area.
The Northwest boys returned to WVC action and took on Berwick on Wednesday. The Rangers picked up a 57-56 victory in double overtime.
While the game had several twists and turns, the most interesting part of the box score was the teams combined to shoot 66 free throws. That makes it extremely difficult to watch a basketball game at times, and really hurts a team’s chance of getting into any type of offensive rhythm with all the starts and stops.
Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570 821-2062; @CVSteveBennett