Hazleton Area boys finish in first-place tie

Hazleton Area boys finish in first-place tie

DALLAS TWP. – Da’mir Faison scored 24 points and Scott Campbell provided a spark off the bench Saturday night when Hazleton Area overcame a slow start to defeat host Dallas, 64-51, in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 boys basketball game.

The win allowed Hazleton Area to finish 14-2 in the WVC, tied for first with Crestwood, forcing a playoff between the rivals who split their two conference meetings this season.

“Our sole purpose was to come up here and redeem our performance from the last time out against those guys and give ourselves an opportunity to win a championship,” said Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph, whose Cougars lost at home against the Mountaineers, 52-39, Jan. 25. “These guys want that chance and now they have it.”

Campbell made his last three 3-point attempts. He finished 4-for-6 from long distance and 5-for-7 overall while scoring 14 points.

Faison had seven points when Hazleton Area outscored Dallas, 19-3, in the final 4:42 of the half to erase a six-point deficit. He then added 14 more points in the second half when he was 10-for-10 from the line.

Ryan “Sparky” Wolk added five points and Kyle Franek four in the run. The Cougars scored the last 12 points of the half, finishing with Campbell’s 25-footer for a 35-26 lead at the break.

“We got some stuff in transition,” Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said. “We just made some big plays to change the whole momentum of the game going into the locker room.”

Wolk finished with 10 points and 4 assists.

Austin Finarelli (14), Luke DelGaudio (12), Nick Nocito (11) and Sam Nocito (10) all scored in double figures for Dallas.

The Mountaineers completed their regular season 10-6 in the WVC and 13-9 overall. They placed third in Division 1, behind Hazleton Area and Crestwood.

Dallas scored the last eight points of the first quarter, including tying and go-ahead 3-pointers by freshman guards Finarelli and Nick Nocito.

DelGaudio, who had a team-high six rebounds and three assists, opened the second quarter with a basket to complete a 10-point streak to a 15-10 lead.

Finarelli converted a Jack Farrell steal into a 3-pointer after a basket by Sam Nocito, who came off the bench to go 4-for-4, opening the biggest Dallas lead at 20-13.

“After that first quarter where we weren’t real sharp, I thought we did a better job of spacing them out, waiting for the opportunities to get the ball into the paint,” Joseph said. “Then at the times when they double-teamed, we kicked it out and hit shots.”