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Cougars Ease Past North Pocono

January 1, 2019
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Cougars Ease Past North Pocono
1 of 2
Cougars Ease Past North Pocono

HAZLE TWP. — Times Square? A grand ballroom? Neighborhood dive? Home?

How about Hughie McGeehan Gymnasium, where Hazleton Area celebrated New Year’s Eve with a 69-35 nonleague romp past North Pocono in a rare boys’ basketball matinee Monday?

Only the confetti, hats and noisemakers were missing as the Cougars started the party — er, game — on a 9-0 run, propelling them to their third straight lopsided win after an 0-3 start to the season.

Maybe it was only fitting that one of the song’s blaring over the gym loudspeakers during one break was P!nk’s “Get the Party Started.’’

For the Cougars, the party lasted almost the entire 32 minutes.

“It was fun out there playing again,’’ said Hazleton Area senior Kyle Franek, whose team was playing for the first time since routing Tunkhannock 74-42 on Dec. 22.

“I think it was a good all-around game for us to get us on track for the new and get ready to play a lot of games in a short amount of time,’’ added Franek, who finished with 11 points.

Da’mir Faison led the Cougars (3-3) with 20 points, including 12 in the first quarter, which ended with Hazleton Area ahead 18-10.

Two of Faison’s five baskets in the quarter came following his steals. He went coast to coast and glided in for a layup after the first and dribbled almost the whole length of the court and threw down a dunk after the second.

“They’re obviously a very good basketball team. ... They get out in the passing lanes and they pressure the ball very well,’’ North Pocono coach Patrick Shields said of the Cougars. “That’s all very good for our young guards, who got pushed around on the perimeter. ... They have to learn how to deal with it.’’

Junior sharpshooter Scotty Campbell came off the Cougars’ bench to drain two 3-pointers and two foul shots within the first three minutes of the second quarter, helping Hazleton Area’s lead swell to 28-12.

Before the quarter was over, Franek’s pretty feed set up Nikolas Norman for a layup, Faison stuck back a teammate’s miss, Franek scored twice off assists from Sparky Wolk and Faison jammed home his third of four dunks on the afternoon, and the half ended with Hazleton Area in command, 38-16.

“(After) nine days off ... we just wanted to play,’’ Cougars’ head coach Mike Joseph said. “We set the tone early with our passing and our (ability) to knock down shots. ... We had some purpose on defense.’’

The young Trojans — with one freshman, three sophomores and a junior in their starting lineup — managed just six points in the second quarter.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever played them, but I could tell by watching them on tape that they play the right way, he (Shields) has them playing hard and they shoot the ball extremely well. ... We just took their confidence away in the first half.’’

Maybe, but North Pocono showed its fight by scoring nine of the first 12 points after the break. Robert VanBrunt netted five points, including a triple and Damarco Maglio and freshman Ryan Ruddy contributed two apiece.

After Joseph called a timeout at the 5:08 mark of the third quarter, the Cougars quickly restored order as Faison dunked after a spin move on the baseline and later cashed Wolk’s inbound feed into a deuce, Andrew Vayda swished a foul-line jumper, Norman powered inside for a layup, Franek converted an old-fashioned three-point play and Vayda drove the lane for two points and a 54-27 Hazleton Area lead entering the final quarter.

“We had to stay focused and be mentally prepared and play our hardest,’’ Franek said. “There was no excuse for not having a lot of energy out there today.’’

Shortly after Campbell made his third triple to start Hazleton Area’s fourth-quarter scoring, Joseph emptied his bench to give even more reserves the chance to join in on the New Year’s Eve fun.

Seniors Alex D’Angelo and Jecxander Moronta-Alvarez paced the Cougars with eight and four points, respectively down the stretch.

By then, an announcement about Hazleton Area’s next home game was made: Thursday’s Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1-2 crossover showdown with unbeaten Nanticoke.

“We’ve already played a couple of big games, but with this being a conference (game), this is even bigger,’’ Franek said. “We’ve just got to stay mentally focused, run our stuff and play like we know how to play, and we’ll be good.’’

Contact the writer: dseamon@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3595;

@SeamonSaysSport on Twitter


North Pocono (35)

R. VanBrunt 3 2-2 10, Z. Walsh 3 1-2 7, R. Ruddy 2 2-2 6, M. Domanish 2 0-0 4, D. Maglio 1 0-0 2, N. Posluszny 1 0-0 2, E. Olenchak 1 0-0 2, K. Serine 1 0-0 2, Z. Cali 0 0-0 0, M. Kowalski 0 0-0 0, J. Millan 0 0-0 0, Totals 14 5-6 35.

Hazleton Area (69)

D. Faison 9 1-2 20, S. Campbell 3 2-2 11, K. Franek 4 3-5 11, A. D’Angelo 2 3-3 8, A. Vayda 3 0-0 7, N. Norman 2 0-1 4, J. Moronta-Alvarez 2 0-0 4, W. Seigendall 1 0-0 2, R. Wolk 1 0-0 2, K. Gil 0 0-0 0, J. Nieves 0 0-0 0, Totals 27 9-13 69.

North Pocono 10 6 11 8—35

Hazleton Area 18 20 16 15—69

3-point goals: R. VanBrunt (NP) 2, S. Campbell (Haz) 3, D. Faison (Haz) 1, A. Vayda (Haz) 1, A. D’Angelo (Haz) 1.





Game Summary

NORTH POCONO (35) — Ruddy 2 2-2 6, Kowalski 0 0-0 0, Walsh 3 1-2 7, Domanish 2 0-0 4, Cali 0 0-0 0, Millan 0 0-0 0, VanBrunt 3 2-2 10, Maglio 1 0-0 2, Serine 1 0-0 2, Posluszny 1 0-0 2, Olenchak 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 5-6 33.

HAZLETON AREA (69) — Gil 0 0-0 0, Vayda 3 0-0 7, Wolk 1 0-0 2, Campbell 3 2-2 11, D’Angelo 2 3-3 8, Franek 4 3-5 11, Nieves 0 0-0 0, Moronta-Alvarez 2 0-0 4, Norman 2 0-1 4, Faison 9 1-2 20, Seigendall 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 9-13 69.

No Poc (3-6) 10 6 11 8 — 35 Haz Area (3-3) 18 20 16 15 — 69

3-point FGs: VanBrunt 2, Campbell 3, Vayda, D’Angelo, Faison

JV score: Hazleton Area 57-35

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