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HS BASKETBALL: A Closer Look At The District 2 Playoffs

February 19, 2019 GMT

CLASS 6A ■ DATES: Saturday, semifinals; March 2, 8 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena. ■ ADVANCE TO STATES: 1 ■ DEFENDING CHAMPION: Hazleton Area ■ TOP SEEDS: 1-Hazleton Area (15-6); 2-Williamsport (8-12, District 4); 3-Scranton (9-13); 4-Delaware Valley 9-13) ■ PLAYERS TO WATCH: Da’Mir Faison (HA), 20.1 points per game; Scotty Campbell (HA), 8.3; Marcus Bauman (SCR), 15.0; Tahg Jones (SCR), 9.8; Jackson Shafer (DV) 15.0; Blake Gearhart (DV), 15.0. ■ DIFFERENCE MAKER: Scranton’s Tahg Jones is one of the top players in the Lackawanna League. He’s a solid defender and can take the ball to the basket. ■ FAVORITE: Hazleton Area is on a six-game winning streak and has the most dynamic player in the classification in Da’Mir Faison. ■ SLEEPER TEAM: Williamsport. Don’t be fooled by the Millionaires’ 8-12 record. They played a daunting schedule and have close losses to Abington Heights, GAR and Scranton Prep. ■ BOTTOM LINE: Hazleton Area has the most talented roster. Scranton could be an interesting player in this field if it can play with the discipline it showed in a tough loss to Scranton Prep. CLASS 5A ■ DATES: Tonight, quarterfinals; Friday, semifinals; March 1, 8 p.m. final at Mohegan Sun Arena. ■ ADVANCE TO STATES: 3 ■ DEFENDING CHAMPION: Abington Heights ■ TOP SEEDS: 1-Abington Heights (20-2), 2-Crestwood (18-4), 3-Wallenpaupack (16-6), 4-Dallas (13-9). ■ PLAYERS TO WATCH: George Tinsley (AH), 19.4 points per game; Trey Koehler (AH), 13.5; Ryan Petrosky (CRE), 14.3; Camden Boris (CRE), 12.8; Elijah Rosenthal (WAL), 21.0; Gabe Springer (WAL), 10.3; Jack Farrell (DAL), 11.4; Mike George (PA), 13.0; Colin Rickard (HON), 13.4; Joey Scarfalloto (HON), 12.4; Cayden Merrifield (WS), 15.6; Robert VanBrunt (NP), 13.4. ■ DIFFERENCE MAKER: George Tinsley is the best player in the Lackawanna League and was the 2018 Class 5A state Player of the Year. He is a Division I recruit headed to Binghamton University. ■ FAVORITE: Abington Heights. The Comets won seven straight District 2 championships and are the reigning PIAA champion. They have dominated teams in this classification this season, beating them by an average of 26.8 points per game. ■ SLEEPER TEAM: Wallenpaupack. The Buckhorns won the Lackawanna Division II title, but could be overlooked because they haven’t had much success in the postseason. However, they have the scoring punch and size to be a thorn in the side of the top teams. ■ BOTTOM LINE: Abington Heights has shown no signs of a state championship hangover and is the overwhelming favorite. Crestwood, however, has played close games against Hazleton Area in their last two meetings. CLASS 4A ■ DATES: Wednesday, quarterfinals; Saturday, semifinals; March 2, 4 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena. ■ ADVANCE TO STATES: 3 ■ DEFENDING CHAMPION: Scranton Prep ■ TOP SEEDS: 1-Scranton Prep (19-3); 2-Nanticoke (17-5); 3-Valley View (14-8); 4-GAR (15-7). ■ PLAYERS TO WATCH: Leo O’Boyle (SP), 15.7 points per game; Brian Boland (SP), 11.7; Nate Kreitzer (NAN), 18.8; Marc Kudrich (VV), 13.4; Jaden Duplessis (VV), 11.8; Will Johnson (GAR), 25.4; Zach Rovinsky (WW), 21.0; Dahlton Frisbie (WW), 17.3; Tyler Faux (TUN), 20.0; Asad Whitehead (HAN), 16.2; Kendall Brewster (MEY), 12.6. ■ DIFFERENCE MAKER: Leo O’Boyle is a Division I player headed to Lafayette College. While he has battled an injury all season, he is the biggest impact player for the Cavaliers. ■ FAVORITE: Scranton Prep. The Cavaliers faced a great deal of adversity this season and weathered several close calls in the Lackawanna League. If they are healthy, they have a deep talent pool. ■ SLEEPER TEAM: GAR has a player who can control the games and fill the stat sheet in Will Johnson. The Grenadiers are also playing their final season before joining with Meyers and Coughlin to form Wilkes-Barre Area, so motivation will be at a high level. ■ BOTTOM LINE: Scranton Prep has dominated this tournament, but this season has been much different than years past. Valley View gave the Cavaliers a pair of scares, and Western Wayne took them to overtime. With Nanticoke’s win over Hazleton Area in the WVC Championship Tournament, this could be the most competitive bracket of the tournament. CLASS 3A ■ DATES: Tonight, quarterfinals; Friday, semifinals; Feb. 28, 8 p.m., final at Mohegan Sun Arena. ■ ADVANCE TO STATES: 2 ■ DEFENDING CHAMPION: Wyoming Seminary ■ TOP SEEDS: 1-Wyoming Seminary (20-2); 2-Holy Redeemer (18-3); 3-Mid Valley (18-4); 4-Lakeland (14-8). ■ PLAYERS TO WATCH: Dimitri Gnall (SEM), 18.6 points per game; Nicholas Ganter (SEM), 9.6; Nick Prociak (HR), 16.7; Collin Cook (HR), 15.4; Shane Rosencrans (MV), 12.5; Vinny Talluto (MV), 9.7; Jake Curnow (LAK), 13.2; Caleb Vigil (LAK), 11.8; Daniel Walsh (DUN), 11.5; Mike Zazzera (CA) 13.5; Michael Rickert (RIV), 16.6. ■ DIFFERENCE MAKER: Wyoming Seminary’s Dimitri Gnall is a powerful player who has played outstanding all season and can dominate a game. ■ FAVORITE: Wyoming Seminary is the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 3 champion and have 20 wins in the regular season while also taking Abington Heights to the brink in a 52-50 loss. ■ SLEEPER TEAM: Dunmore. The Bucks picked an outstanding time to play their best. They have wins over Mid Valley and Lakeland, and took Holy Cross to overtime for the second time this season all in the last 10 days. ■ BOTTOM LINE: Wyoming Seminary was ranked among the Top 10 teams in the state for most of the season, but split the season series with Holy Redeemer, which could make this a very interesting bracket. If these two teams focus too much on each other and forget about Mid Valley, things could get interesting. CLASS 2A ■ DATES: Wednesday, quarterfinals; Saturday, semifinals; March 2, 2 p.m., final at Mohegan Sun Arena. ■ ADVANCE TO STATES: 2 ■ DEFENDING CHAMPION: Holy Cross ■ TOP SEEDS: 1-Holy Cross (17-5); 2-Northwest Area (13-9); 3-Susquehanna (14-8); 4-Mountain View (11-11). ■ PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kieran Burrier (HC), 14.0; Leahy O’Connor (HC), 13.1; Walker Yaple (NW), 13.0; Sam Saxe (NW), 10.6; Bryce Baldwin (SUS), 15.2; Mason Deakin (SUS), 11.7; Mikey Schermerhorn (MTV), 17.3; Richard Helbing (LT), 11.9; Dante Lucarelli (OF), 15.8; Hunter Bomboy (EL), 11.2. ■ DIFFERENCE MAKER: Kieran Burrier is the best defender and top scorer for Holy Cross. His playoff experience makes him the player who could lead the Crusaders back to the gold medal. ■ FAVORITE: Holy Cross is the overwhelming favorite. The Crusaders have been outstanding since a loss to Mid Valley and withstood some close calls against Lakeland and Dunmore. They have the most talented roster and play the toughest defense. ■ SLEEPER TEAM: Old Forge. The Blue Devils, like Holy Cross, plays a challenging schedule in the Lackawanna Division III and their young players are battle-tested. ■ BOTTOM LINE: It would be stunning if Holy Cross did not win this title. The team has multiple weapons on offense and the defense limits teams to fewer than 50 points per game. Northwest Area showed last season it could play at a state-level, but it will take a really strong effort to dethrone the Crusaders. — JOBY FAWCETT