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Patriot playoff hopes slipping away

PA loses three games this week as D2 Class 3A postseason approaches

Pictured above, Pittston Area’s Jordan Houseman goes to the basket against Coughlin earlier this season. Below left, WA’s Bart Chupka shoots over a Hazleton Area defender last week. Below right, PA’s Steve Stravinski head-fakes as he tries to get off a shot against Coughlin last week.

PA photos by Charlotte Bartizek / WA photo by Bill Tarutis

It might not have looked like much of a game on the schedule, but Monday night’s boys’ basketball game between Dallas and Pittston Area was one of the most important of the season.

Both teams want to be one of the five Wyoming Valley spots in the District 2 Class 3A playoffs, and right now because of its 47-40 victory in the Back Mountain, the Mountaineers are in the driver’s seat.

The victory moved Dallas into fourth place among Class 3A teams from the WVC. The top five WVC teams – along with the top three from the Lackawanna League – will comprise the eight-team D2 playoff.

Despite a poor shooting night, Pittston Area stayed close and pulled within 41-39 on a three-point shot by Steve Stravinski with 2:26 remaining. But Shane Dunn made a layup and Travis DeBona made went 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 1:02 to seal the win for the Mounts.

Dallas controlled the boards in taking an early lead against the Patriots. Led by Dunn’s eight points, the Mountaineers led by scores of 8-0 and 12-1 before Pittston Area used a 13-0 run to take a 14-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“That’s the one thing about our guys,” said Pittston Area coach Al Kiesinger. “No matter how ugly it might look, they never quit. They never stop playing hard. I thought the difference tonight was that Dallas did a great job on the boards in the first half. They’re very athletic and they out-rebounded us in the first two quarters.”

Stravinski, who finished with a game-high 21 points, gave the Patriots their biggest lead of the game, 18-12, with five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Pittston Area made just two field goals the rest of the quarter, while Dallas used a 9-0 run en route to taking a 23-22 halftime lead.

The Mountaineers scored the first seven points of the third quarter to increase their lead to 30-22, but Pittston Area cut the deficit to 32-29 entering the fourth quarter and Stravinski’s basket made the score 32-31 in the opening seconds of the final period.

Although its playoff hopes took a big hit, Pittston Area remains alive in the race. The Patriots are tied with Coughlin for the fifth spot with a game against Wyoming Area remaining.

“We have a shot,” said Kiesinger. “A win tonight would have been nice, but give credit to Dallas. Teddy (Jackson Jr.) does a great job with that program. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.”

Stravinski was the only Patriots player to reach double figures. RJ Emmett added six for PA, and Steve Sklanka and Joe Coyne chipped in with four each.

PA 53, Valley West 85

Pittston Area gave up the most points it has all season in an 85-53 loss to Wyoming Valley West in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division I matchup on Friday night in Plymouth.

The Patriots trailed by just six entering the second quarter but the Spartans reeled off 50 points over the next 16 minutes to take a 31-point lead into the final quarter.

Steve Stravinski led PA with 15 points and Joe Coyne added 11. RJ Emmett chipped in with eight points for the Patriots.

PA 43, Hazleton 79

Steve Stravinski and Joe Coyne were the only Pittston Area players to reach double figures in a 79-43 loss to Hazleton in a WVC Division I game in the Thomas R. Kelly Gymnasium on Tuesday night in Yatesville.

Stravinski scored 15 points, and so did Coyne, but no other Patriot scored more than the four points that Jordan Houseman did. Joe Ardoline made the only three-pointer for PA, his only bucket of the game.

WA 49, Tunkhannock 68

A six-point third quarter did in any hopes of a Wyoming Area upset on Senior Parents Night on Friday night in Exeter.

The Warriors trailed by just one point to start the second half, but Tunkhannock outscored WA, 24-6, in the third quarter to put the game out of reach in a 68-49 loss for Wyoming Area.

The Tigers took a 14-10 lead after the first stanza, but the Warriors battled back to within 26-25 at intermission.

Ryan Carey led Wyoming Area with 16 points, and Cody Gates added 12. Trent Grove chipped in with nine points for the Warriors.

WA 34, Dallas 50

Wyoming Area managed just 10 points in the first half of a 50-34 loss to Dallas on Tuesday night in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division II matchup in the Back Mountain.

The Warriors fell behind 29-10 in the first half as the Mounts allowed the visitors just five points each in the first and second quarters.

Ryan Carey was the only Wyoming Area player to reach double figures with 11 points. Lou Vullo added eight points for the Warriors, and Cody Gates chipped in with seven.

WA 43, Valley West 63

Wyoming Area had trouble getting started in both the first and second halves of play in a 63-43 loss to Wyoming Valley West last Saturday night in a Wyoming Valley Conference crossover game in Exeter.

The Spartans ran out to a 17-7 lead after the first quarter and then expanded on its lead in the third quarter with a 15-2 run against the Warriors to take a 25-point lead into the final stanza.

Ryan Carey drilled five three-pointers for Wyoming Area on his way to a game-high 18 points. Bart Chupka added six points for the Warriors and Cody Gates chipped in with five points.

OF 41, Carbondale 28

Old Forge won its third straight game with a 41-28 victory over Carbondale in the Peter Turonis Memorial Gymnasium on Friday night in the Pioneer City.

The Blue Devils pulled away in the second half with a 21-13 run while allowing the Chargers just four field goals in the final 16 minutes.

Tony Goodall led Old Forge with 11 points, and Mario Martinelli added 10.

OF 62, Western Wayne 33

Eleven different players scored as Old Forge defeated Western Wayne, 62-33, in a Lackawanna League Division II game on Wednesday night in the Elio Ghigiarelli Gymnasium.

The Blue Devils outscored the Wildcats, 33-10, over the middle quarters as Dom Avvisato scored all 12 of his points during that span. Western Wayne managed just three points in the second quarter when Old Forge ran out with a 19-3 run.

Tony Goodall added 10 points for the Blue Devils, and Bill Nocera, Jake Manetti and Connor Fultz combined for 21 points equally.

OF 52, Dunmore 42

Old Forge avenged its first half loss to Dunmore in a 52-42 victory over in a Lackawanna League Division II matchup in Bucktown on Tuesday night.

The Blue Devils never trailed in its matchup with the Bucks as Mario Martinelli scored five of his six points in the first quarter to put Old Forge out in front.

Old Forge used a 35-18 run in the middle quarters to build a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter as Bill Nocera scored nine of his career-high 11 points during the run.

Tony Goodall led all scorers with 18 points, and Dom Avvisato added 10 for the Blue Devils. Martinelli also handed out seven assists for Old Forge.

Sunday Dispatch Staff Writer Rick Notari also contributed to this report.

This week’s schedule

Tuesday

WA at Pittston Area

OF v. Holy Cross

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