By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
DALLAS TWP. – Dallas outscored Wyoming Valley West by 36 points in a near-flawless, 10-minute stretch of the first half Sunday on the way to its fourth straight Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball victory, 76-40, in a Division 1 game.
The game marked head coach Mark Belenski’s return from a three-game, school-imposed suspension.
Belenski confirmed it was his first game back, but otherwise had no comment on the absence.
Nick Nocito scored 15 points while fellow freshman Austin Finarelli led the defense with 6 steals.
Wyoming Valley West opened the game with a Tom Federici 3-pointer.
Dallas then started the game 7-for-8 on 3-pointers and mixed in some easy baskets off its defense while racing to a 40-7 lead with 4:35 left in the half.
Nocito had 13 points in the run, including the last four on a breakaway off a steal, then a conversion of his own rebound.
Jack Farrell hit three straight 3-point attempts in a span of 5:07 in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers led 32-5 after one quarter behind nine points by Farrell, eight by Justin Finarelli and seven by Nocito.
Farrell finished with 13 points.
Luke DelGaudio added 11 points while missing just one shot. He also led the team with six rebounds, four on the offensive end.
Justin Finarelli had 10 points and 3 steals.
Nocito also had three assists and three steals.
Dallas was a fourth-place team in the six-team division when it started the winning streak with a 30-point win over third-place Pittston Area. The streak also included wins over second-place Hazleton Area and first-place Crestwood in a Friday game that represented the only WVC loss of the season by the Comets.
“We’ve been playing well ever since our Crestwood loss here at home,” said Belenski, who is in his fourth season leading the Mountaineers after resuming a career that produced two state titles at Bishop O’Reilly.
After losing an all-senior starting lineup from last year’s district finalist and state tournament-qualifying team, the Mountaineers are much younger out of necessity.
The winning streak has raised Dallas to 8-4 in the WVC and 11-7 overall.
“We’re very athletic and we’re working on the basketball end of it,” said Belenski, who credited the leadership of his captains.
Justin Finarelli is the team’s only senior and is a tri-captain along with juniors Farrell, the team’s most experienced player, and Sam Nocito.
DelGaudio had nine points during a 15-3 run in the first 2:40 of the second half to build the lead to 57-20. Less than a minute later, the Dallas starters were done for the day.
Tyler Gillespie grabbed 13 rebounds for Valley West, which got nine points from Danny Gibbons on three 3-pointers.
The Spartans (1-11 and 1-17) were just 7-for-31 from long range.
WYOMING SEMINARY: Blue Knights rout Northwest in Sunday's other game, return to first-place tie. http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BoysGameSemNW.