Wow, has the high school hoops season flown by. Congrats to Ben Sosa on scoring his 1,000th point! Moose came up big for Loyalsock in their win over Lewisburg this past week, scoring 24 points, including a foul with just seconds remaining to reach the magic number. The foul shot also gave CI’s boys a two point lead and helped secure the HAC II Championship. There has been some great local action to keep the gyms warm on a cold winter's night. But the best time of scholastic basketball is now upon us.
Good luck to all and congrats on a good season. What happens now will determine if it becomes great seasons!
First we have the Heartland Athletic Conference Championship. In a "Hoosier" inspired way the HAC plays their three division winners and a wildcard off for the overall HAC Title. Small school vs. Big school, the hoop is the same height and the rules are the same. May the best team win. This format has produced some great games since its inception. Tip of the cap to the Heartland Basketball Committee.
This year we're looking at Shamokin as the HAC I, big school champ. Loyalsock as the HAC II caught in the middle size champ and St. John Neumann as the HAC III, small school division champ. The wild card is the Lewisburg Green Dragons the HAC II runner up with an overall 20–2 record.
The way it appears it will match up is CI's Lancers vs. Shamokin and Coach Paul Petcavage's Neumann Knights facing Lewisburg and league leading scorer Sam Allen (21.7 PPG). Two great matchups leading to the championship game.
Then it's time for the PIAA District IV playoffs. Three local teams are looking strong for a district crown and hopeful for a run in the State Tournament. A fourth is my wild card pick for District Gold.
First in Single A, Coach Petcavage had his Cathletic Knights sitting undefeated at press time. Folks wondered how Newmann would do following up last year’s great season and the loss of all everything player Alize Johnson.
Just fine I would say. They are clearly the class of the field in District Single A play. Depending on their draw they could make noise in the State Tournament.
SJN has three players carrying the scoring lead. Kevin Anderson 19.4 PPG, Nazsa Short 17.5 PPG and Otis Anderson at 13 PPG. Otis has also done an excellent job running the offense and I do mean running! The Knights get up and down the floor.
It's great to see consistent play and great basketball return to the proud traditions of St. John Neumann. Tip of the cap to Coach Petcavage and his staff. Good luck and keep it rolling!
At the Double A level CI and his Lancers seem to be primed for a State Title run. The District Title path got a little easier with Lewisburg moving up to 3A this season. If the Lancers play well they will put up some big numbers during their District Title run.
Sock has been balanced on offense all year. Omar Little and Ben Sosa lead the way at about 16 PPG each and both have passed the 1,000-point mark. Mike Pastori scores about 11 per contest and Tommy Baggett and Kyle Datres are right around 10 PPG. With the starting five all scoring around double figures and Kyle Datres being the veteran point guard that makes them go. Only one thing was missing at the beginning of the season, some depth.
Marcus Williams, Brennan Casale and Michael Lapoint have solved that problem. If the Lancers play the defense they are capable of, lookout. Tip of the cap to Assistant Coach Jeff Everett and his effort for CI and the troops.
District 4’s 3A level has the strongest field. Never count out Head Coach Nick Tagliaferri, who is in his rookie season with Jersey Shore. He has had plenty of playoff success while at Hughesville and he has the Bulldogs currently playing their best ball in about 10 years.
Eric Hulling leads a well-balanced, disciplined offensive attack at about 12 PPG. Athletic Brody Smith scores near 11 PPG. Zac Miller chips in over 10 per game. Coach Tag can flat out coach. The improvement of the Bulldog program is ahead of schedule. What a year for “Dawg” sports programs.
Lewisburg is the 3A favorite. Coach John Vaji has built a great hoops program. Junior Sam Allen is a Division I college prospect and 1,000 point scorer. He can score inside and out. Matt Fedorjaka can shoot it and contributes almost 13 PPG. Nadir Boone is solid and adds over 11 PPG.
Coach Vaji always has his team fundamentally sound and ready to play. Shore and Lewisburg could be an outstanding District match up. Both also have to contend with Shamokin who is a quality team.
Last but not least, Coach Allen Taylor and his young Millionaires. They are definitely young bucks but have come a long way in one season. If they can play up to their defensive capabilities a District Crown is within reach. Their athleticism and quickness will give District 2 schools fits.
The Cherry and White compete at the 4A level; their bracket includes District 2 schools.
Maleak Benjamin is the area's premier shooter, he scores about 15 PPG. Stanley Scott averages just below 13 PPG. The Millionaires will need some others to step up and provide offense to claim a District Crown. The best way for this to happen is for Coach Taylor's squad to turn defense into easy offense.
Get out and take in some great basketball and support your school's team. Great playoff action can be found across our Valley.