Mar. 3—The road to Mohegan Sun gets underway for the basketball teams lucky enough to qualify for the District 2 playoffs.
It promises to be a tricky road with the potential for a few bumps along the way. The one that is different about this year's tournament is that only the district champion will advance to the state tournament.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the difficulty in potentially finding venues across the state to host teams from out of their respective areas, teams seeded higher on the bracket for the state tournament will host games in their own facility up until the championship games.
The same goes for the district tournament. The higher seeds get to host. The home court advantage will not be as noticeable as it has been in past seasons due to limitations on crowd sizes and the urgency to get immediate family members in the seats to have the opportunity to see their kids play.
Also, a few quarterfinal round games have been pushed back due to teams dealing with COVID-19 issues. The semifinal rounds are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, and those dates won't change. Same can be said for the championship games at Mohegan Sun Arena.
DEFENDING CHAMP: Wilkes-Barre Area
DATES: Quarterfinals, March 5; Semifinals, March 9; Finals, March 13.
MOVING ON: The champion advances to the state tournament to play the District 3 champ.
THE SEEDS: 1. Scranton. 2. Williamsport. 3. Wilkes-Barre Area. 4. Hazleton Area. 5. Delaware Valley.
QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUP: Delaware Valley plays at Hazleton Area on Friday night. The winner plays at Scranton on Tuesday night in one semifinal. Wilkes-Barre Area plays at Williamsport on Tuesday night in the other semifinal.
FAVORITE: Williamsport. The Millionaires are fast, athletic and can shoot the ball.
BRACKET BUSTER: Wilkes-Barre Area. If the Wolfpack can get back on track and play like they were in January, they will be a tough out.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cole Walker, Wilkes-Barre Area, (16.1); Saquan Portee, Wilkes-Barre Area, (8.4); Matt Egidio, Wilkes-Barre Area, (7.4); Naquan Hollman, Wilkes-Barre Area, (6.9); Jack Gilgallon, Wilkes-Barre Area, (4.9);Angel Cruz, Hazleton Area, (10.3); Brett Antolick, Hazleton Area, (9.7); Josian Geurrero, Hazleton Area, (9.6); Christopher Garcia, Hazleton Area, (5.1); Jason Shields, Scranton, (19.2); Kevin Lazdowsky, Scranton, (11.1); Arvel Chandler, Scranton, (7.5); John Rose, Scranton, (8.7); Mike Leonardo, Delaware Valley, (16.3); Chris Davis, Delaware Valley, (7.7)
BREAKDOWN: With the inclusion of Williamsport, this bracket is technically considered a sub-regional. The Millionaires defeated Dallas and Holy Redeemer from the Wyoming Valley Conference this season. ...Wilkes-Barre Area has a marquee victory, knocking off perennial state power Math Civics & Sciences on Jan. 29. The win put the Wolpfack at 7-1 at the time. Since then, Wilkes-Barre Area is 4-5. ...Hazleton Area has won two of its last three games, holding each opponent to no more than 37 points. In its regular-season finale, the Cougars allowed 29 points to Wilkes-Barre Area. ...Hazleton Area was crowned district champs the first three years before Wilkes-Barre Area won it last year.
DEFENDING CHAMP: Wallenpaupack
DATES: Quarterfinals, March 5; Semifinals, March 9; Finals, March 12.
MOVING ON: The champion moves on to the state tournament and plays the top seed from District 1.
THE SEEDS: 1. Crestwood. 2. Abington Heights. 3. North Pocono. 4. Valley View. 5. Tunkhannock. 6. Pittston Area. 7. Valley West. 8. West Scranton.
QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: West Scranton at Crestwood, Valley West at Abington Heights, Pittston Area at North Pocono, Tunkhannock at Valley View.
FAVORITE: Crestwood. Senior oriented team that can shoot it. Could have problems with teams that feature multiple big men.
BRACKET BUSTER: North Pocono. The Trojans can score in bunches. If they get hot, will be a team nobody wants to play.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Ryan Petrosky, Crestwood, (12.8); Paul Feisel, Crestwood, (11.3); Jacob Zaleski, Crestwood, (10.7); Mike Zaleski, Crestwood, (7.3); Cole Gorham, Valley West, (7.9); Christian Michak, Valley West, (7.7); Jonathan Mann, Valley West, J.J. Walsh, Pittston Area, (13.6); Matt Johnson, Pittston Area, (9.5); David Behm, Pittston Area, (8.1); Anthony Cencetti, Pittston Area, (6.6); Ryan Harder, Tunkhannock, (17.6); Ben Chilson, (15.2); Jack Chilson, Tunkhannock, (10.4); Zack Kovalchik, Valley View, (17.2); Harry Johnson, Abington Heights, (15.2); Zach Walsh, North Pocono, (13.8); Jack Smith, Wallenpaupack, (13.7).
Tunkhannock's Ben Chilson scored 50 points in a game this season against Athens. The Tigers have three players averaging in double figures. Tunkhannock has to wait until Sunday afternoon to play its quarterfinal round game at Valley View due to COVID-19 concerns. ...A team from the WVC has never won the 5A championships. ...Abington Heights won the first three before Wallenpaupack won it last season. ...Crestwood last won a district title in 2009 when it was playing 3A. The most points Crestwood has allowed in a game this season is 58. The first came in a loss to Dallas, while the second was a win over Valley West. ...After going through a five-game losing streak, Pittston Area rebounded and has won its last three heading into the tournament.
DEFENDING CHAMP: Scranton Prep
DATES: Quarterfinals, March 6; Semifinals, March 9; Finals, March 13.
MOVING ON: The champion advances to the state tournament and hosts the District 4 champ.
THE SEEDS: 1.Scranton Prep. 2.Dallas. 3.Mid Valley. 4.Lake-Lehman. 5.Nanticoke Area. 6.Wyoming Area. 7. Honesdale. 8.Hanover Area.
QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Hanover Area at Scranton Prep, Honesdale at Dallas, Wyoming Area at Mid Valley, Nanticoke Area at Lake-Lehman.
FAVORITE: Scranton Prep.
BRACKET BUSTER: Dallas. You needs guards to win in March and Dallas has two of the best around.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Austin Finarelli, Dallas, (17.5); Nick Nocito, Dallas, (15.8); Michael Bufalino, Dallas, (5.9); Max Paczewski, Lake-Lehman, (15.1); Josh Kane, Lake-Lehman, (12.1); Neil Dougherty, Lake-Lehman, (7.9); Jake Krupinski, Nanticoke Area, (13.6); Sincere Shiloh, Nanticoke Area, (8.4); Luke Myers, Nanticoke Area, (8.1); J.J. Bielecki, Nanticoke Area, (7.2); Jesse Mikoliczyk, Wyoming Area, (8.6); Dane Schutter, Wyoming Area, (6.9); Jake Greenfield, Wyoming Area, (8.5); Matt Barber, Hanover Area, (7.6); Todd Kolbicka, Hanover Area, (8.1); Gavin Benarz, Scranton Prep, (14.5); Robert Rossi, Scranton Prep, (13.7); Danny Nemitz, Mid Valley, (11.8); Tyler O'Connor, Mid Valley, (10.8).
BREAKDOWN: Scranton Prep has won the last four district championships and return four starters from last year's team. ...Lake-Lehman has won three of its last five games and has a pair of victories over Dallas to its credit. The wins over Dallas are by a combined five points. ...When Finarelli and Nocito each reach double figures Dallas is a tough team to beat. They have combined for 44 3-pointers on the season with Nocito leading the team with 30. Wyoming Area's wins this season have come against Nanticoke Area and Hanover Area. The last 4A team from the WVC to win a district title was Hazleton Area in 2014. Hanover Area's two wins this season have come against Wyoming Area and Northwest. Since Feb. 19, Nanticoke Area has played seven games, at one point winning three in a row. It's last two losses to Dallas and Wyoming Seminary have been by a combined 16 points.
CLASS 3A Holy Redeemer
DATES: Quarterfinals, March 4; Semifinals, March 8; Final, March 11
MOVING ON: The champion advances to the state tournament to play the No. 1 seed from District 3.
THE SEEDS: 1.Riverside. 2.Wyoming Seminary. 3.Holy Redeemer. 4.Dunmore. 5.Lakeland. 6.Montrose. 7.Carbondale.
QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Carbondale at Wyoming Seminary, Montrose at Holy Redeemer, Lakeland at Dunmore.
FAVORITE: At full strength Wyoming Seminary is the favorite. At less than full strength this thing gets pretty interesting.
BRACKET BUSTER: Tough to pick the defending champ here, but Holy Redeemer got hot at the right time.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jake Koretz, Wyoming Seminary, (22.5); Ethan Meuser, Wyoming Seminary, (16.7); Gavin Flanley, Wyoming Seminary, (9.5); Matt Prociak, Holy Redeemer, (15.0); Justice Shoats, Holy Redeemer, (15.5); Alex Rymar, Holy Redeemer, (7.1); Caleb Vigil, Lakeland, (20.3); Brandon Reed, Riverside, (19.5); Michael Rickert, Riverside, (13.4); Connor Watkins, Montrose, (12.4); Kevin Walsh, Dunmore, (10.3), Ray Ofner, Carbondale, (14.4).
BREAKDOWN: This is one of the brackets where the final seeds were not expected to be officially finalized until late Tuesday night. That gives the No. 2 seed not much time to prepare for its quarterfinal matchup. Regardless, either team should be able to get by to the semifinals. ...Since 2017, Holy Redeemer and Wyoming Seminary have each won two district championships. Scranton Prep was the last Lackawanna League team to win the classification. ...Koretz was injured against Holy Redeemer on Feb. 24 missing all of the second half and the remaining three games on Seminary's schedule. The Blue Knights are 2-2 without him, though they were losing to the Royals at the time of Koretz's injury. ...Holy Redeemer's season has been one of streaks. The Royals started 0-3, won their next three, lost their next five and now enter the tournament on a seven-game winning streak. The Royals have a two-point win over Loyalsock on their resume. Lakeland will play at Dunmore on Sunday afternoon due to COVID-19 concerns.
DEFENDING CHAMP: Holy Cross
DATES: Quarterfinals, March 5; Semifinals, March 9; Finals, March 13.
MOVING ON: The champion will advance to the state playoffs and play at the No. 1 seed in District 4.
THE SEEDS: 1.Elk Lake. 2.Holy Cross. 3.Blue Ridge. 4.Susquehanna. 5.Northwest. 6.Old Forge. 7.Mountain View. 8.Lackawanna Trail.
QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Lackawanna Trail at Elk Lake, Mountain View at Holy Cross, Old Forge at Blue Ridge, Northwest at Susquehanna.
FAVORITE: Holy Cross. It's basically been its tournament to lose. No reason to change now.
BRACKET BUSTER: Northwest. The Rangers were able to play 19 games this season so that should count for something.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Matt Pierontoni, Northwest, (9.8); Tayler Yaple, Northwest, (9.0); Gary McLendon, Northwest, (8.8); Landon Hufford, Northwest, (7.5); Chase Biller, Northwest, (7.3); Ryan Henke, Mid Valley, (19.6); Patrick Bennie, Holy Cross, (17.2); Matt Mowry, Elk Lake, (16.2); Connor Cranage, Blue Ridge, (14.4); Dante Lucarelli, Old Forge, (13.2); Brycen Decker, Lackawanna Trail, (12.6).
BREAKDOWN: The WVC does not have a team in the field. Northwest left the conference but is eligible to qualify for the postseason in District 2. ...Holy Cross will not play until Saturday as it works its way back from COVID-19 issues. ...Northwest split with teams from the WVC, losing to Hanover Area and beating Berwick in overtime. The loss to Hanover Area snapped Northwest's five-game winning streak. ...Holy Cross has won the last four district championships. The last time from the WVC to win a 2A title was Meyers in 2016.
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