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BOYS BASKETBALL: Pittston Area Hands Loss To Holy Redeemer

December 27, 2018 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — Denied in the paint by Holy Redeemer big man Nick Prociak, Pittston Area‘s Andrew Krawczyk tracked down the loose ball and kicked outside.

Redeemer’s closest defender sank all the way to the key, leaving the Patriots’ Mike George all alone in the corner. He fired a 3-pointer as soon as he touched Krawczyk’s pass, beating the close-out attempt with a clean swish.

On other nights, it might have paid off if Pittston Area’s offense kept trying to penetrate inside the paint. Wednesday night was a different story.

George’s 21 points and four 3-pointers both led the Patriots, who hardly missed from beyond the arc in a red-hot first half. They had plenty of room to absorb a late rally and earn a 68-54 win on the first night of the 53rd annual CYC McGrane Holiday Basketball Tournament.

Pittston Area handed Redeemer its first loss of the season and advances to Friday’s tourney final against Crestwood.

“We’re growing. I talk about that all the time with our team, just taking the next step in the process,” Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. “They just have to, at times, realize they belong and they can play with just about anybody.”

Brennan Higgins scored 20 points for the Patriots, including two 3-pointers. Logan Booth had 12, and Krawczyk also buried a couple of treys on the way to 10 points.

As far as high-quality competition goes, Pittston Area (5-2) couldn’t have asked for much better than Redeemer (4-1) at this stage of the season.

The Royals qualified for last season’s PIAA Class 3A tournament and had victories of nine points or more in all their games before the McGrane tournament.

That impressive resume didn’t mean much once the Patriots — a team that bowed out of the first round of districts and returned one senior starter this year — began firing away. They hovered around 50-percent 3-point shooting and a double-digit lead all night.

Higgins and Krawczyk both made a pair of 3s in the opening quarter, and George had one of his own. Pittston Area led 21-11 after the opening frame, getting 15 points and five of its seven field goals from the deep ball.

“I’ve seen that ability in practice, so it didn’t particularly shock me,” Kiesinger said. “We just haven’t really done it a lot in games year. But we do have that ability.”

The Patriots’ lead grew to 17 at halftime, with George accounting for half of their 20 second-quarter points. An active offense set him and others up with plenty of clean shot attempts.

“We share the ball, pass it as a team,” George said. “We’ve been playing since third grade together. It’s just chemistry we have for eight years.”

Redeemer, led by Colin Cook’s 16 points and Prociak’s 13, didn’t back down late.

Down 53-35 entering the fourth quarter, the Royals went on an 11-0 run in the next four minutes to cut their deficit to seven points. Their rally was capped by Justice Shoals’ around-the-back dribble and feed to Cook in transition, and then Shoals’ own layup on back-to-back steals.

But Pittston Area collected itself after a timeout and converted at the foul line as time ran low, never letting Redeemer closer to a comeback. Higgins hit all six of his free throws in the fourth quarter.

With last year’s McGrane champion defeated, Pittston Area moves on to a matchup against 2016 champion Crestwood (5-2). Win that game, and the Patriots will claim their first McGrane title since 2015.

They’d also get a bit of revenge against the Comets, who beat them in last season’s district quarterfinals, 48-45.

“It’s a good opportunity to get the win and then carry it over. We play them two times again,” George said.

Crestwood takes opener

Ryan Petrosky was tough to deal with on both ends of the floor as Crestwood took the McGrane opener over Hanover Area, 52-40. Petrosky led the Comets with 13 points. He also forced a few steals with on-ball and help defense on the other end, keeping the Hawkeyes at a distance most of the second half. Camden Boris added 11 for the Comets. Sean Murphy had nine with 7-for-7 foul shooting, and Brad Papura slipped behind Hanover Area’s zone defense for eight points on inside looks. The Hawkeyes (4-3) got as close as 48-40 on Evan Matern’s 3-pointer with 1:06 to play but saw their four-game winning streak snapped. They were led all night by Asad Whitehead’s drives to the rim, which resulted in a game-high 19 points.

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