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Royals, Trojans set for matchup

Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke to meet for Class 3A crown today.

Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke were both unbeaten in Wyoning Valley Conference play while capturing the Division 2 and 3 titles, respectively. The Royals were awarded the No. 1 seed after winning a coin flip

But today’s game won’t be decided by pocket change.

The defending champion Royals (22-2) and the Trojanettes (20-4) will square off in the District 2, Class 3A championship game at 2 p.m. at Wilkes University

Two other members of the WVC also will have a chance to nail down District 2 championships today.

No. 1 seed Hazleton (21-2) faces No. 2 seed and defending champion Scranton (16-5) in the Class 4A title game at 4 p.m. at Wilkes. No. 6 seed Meyers (13-12) will take on No. 1 seed Dunmore (22-1) in the Class 2A final at 2:30 p.m. at Carbondale High School.

The winners and runners-up in the championship games qualify for a berth in the state playoffs.

In other action, No. 5 seed Coughlin (19-6) plays No. 3 seed Abington Heights (19-6) in the Class 3A third-place game, with the winner advancing to states.

Holy Redeemer, which made it to the state quarterfinals last season, turned back upset-minded Coughlin, 42-38, in semifinal action on Thursday night.

“We let them (Coughlin) hang around too long,” Redeemer coach Rich Nemetz said. “We had a lot of good shots, but they weren’t falling.

“It was a wake-up call,” Nemetz. “We can’t just walk on the floor and be assured of a win because of our record.”

The Royals are led by 6-foot-2 junior center Monica Wignot, who is the complete package. She leads the Royals in scoring, blocks and assists. “We just need Monica to play her normal game,” said Nemetz.

Nanticoke is led by the talented guard tandem of 5-2 junior Jen Harnischfeger and 5-7 senior Morgan Thomas.

The teams style of play mirror each other. The Royals and Trojanettes have explosive offenses that thrive on the fast break. However, Redeemer may have a slight edge because its depth.

“Nanticoke is playing really well,” Nemetz said. “It may come down to who tires first.”

Harnischfeger is arguably the top point guard in the WVC.

“She’s the best guard in the area, from Wilkes-Barre to Scranton to Hazleton,” Nanticoke coach Jack Rentko said. “She’s a coach on the floor.”

Rentko also expects big things from senior center Kelsey Yohey, who is a strong inside player who is also capable of scoring from the perimeter.

“Kelsey is 5-8, but plays more like 6-1,” Rentko said. “She dominates the boards and she’s the heart-and-soul of our team.”

The key for Nanticoke is keeping the ball out of Wignot’s hands, but that’s very difficult to do, Rentko added.

“Holy Redeemer is ranked fifth in the state and they are hands down the best team in our district. We have a huge mountain to climb.”

Hazleton is seeking to avenge its loss to Scranton in last years’ semifinals. The Cougars edged the Knights 60-58 in an exhibition game in December.

The Cougars advanced to the finals with a 43-30 win over Wallenpaupack. They got a big effort from senior forward Maddy Ludwig, who scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter.

Ludwig re-injured her right knee in the last game of the regular season, and wasn’t expected to play. But she got medical clearance just two days earlier.

“You could say Ludwig got a second life and she took advantage of it,” Hazleton coach Joe Gavio said. “Her return seemed to give out whole team a boost.”

According to Gavio, the Cougars must contain Scranton center Terika Turner, who pulled down 22 rebounds when the teams met in December.

“Turner’s a superb shot blocker and rebounder. “She’s a handful, because she goes after the ball with reckless abandon.”

Meyers faces the unenviable task of containing Dunmore senior guard Lauren Carra, who recently scored her 2,000th point.

“I think we have a shot if everybody plays well,” said Meyers coach Chris Grey. “If Ashlee Ward and Maddie Lavery step up inside, it will help free up our guards. We’re playing our best basketball of the year right now.”

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