Without Belenski, Dallas Routs Pittston Area
DALLAS — The Dallas Mountaineers played arguably their best game of the season Friday night.
But some chatter around the court focused more on who wasn’t at the game, as opposed to who was there for Dallas’ 71-41 win against Pittston Area in Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball.
Head coach Mark Belenski was absent. When reached by telephone, Belenski, who led the Mountaineers to the state tournament last season, declined comment.
The most anyone around the program offered was that Belenski’s absence was related to a personnel matter.
Athletic director Nancy Roberts deferred comment to high school assistant principal Greg Riley, who deferred comment to superintendent Thomas Duffy.
A reporter left their phone number and a message seeking comment with Duffy, but it was unreturned by press time Friday.
As far as the game itself, Dallas could not have asked for anything more from its players.
The Mountaineers raced out to a 22-9 lead after the first quarter, and they outscored Pittston Area in each of the second, third and fourth quarters, as well.
“This is exactly what we were looking for,” said varsity assistant coach Jonathan Saba. “We came out with a lot of passion tonight. We played with a lot of intensity. We played smart, we played hard from start to finish and that’s what I was proud of. We came out smoking and we didn’t let up the whole time. I’m very, very proud of the guys tonight.”
Making — and attempting — only one free throw, Dallas scored 70 of its points on the floor.
The game’s highlights included Justin Finarelli’s pass that traveled the whole length of the floor before landing in his freshman brother Austin Finarelli’s hands for a layup in the fourth quarter.
Moments later, freshman Nick Nocito made a nifty behind-the-back pass to Jack Farrell for another layup.
“We’re very pleased with how our young guys are stepping up,” Saba said.
Dallas’ starters exited the game and received a standing ovation.
Making Dallas’ victory all the more impressive was that it could have been perceived as an underdog; Dallas improved to 8-7 and Pittston Area dropped to 9-6 as the two battle for seeds in the District 2 Class 5A playoff race.
In addition to Austin Finarelli’s game-high 18 points, Farrell scored 11 and Dylan Schuster and Eric Berley each added seven.
Mike George made 10 free throws for the Patriots en route to a 14-point night. Logan Booth added 10 points for PA.
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