By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
HAZLETON – Wyoming Seminary may have limped to the finish line, but the Blue Knights still got to the end of the first Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament as the boys champion.
With their top two scorers hobbled by injuries, the Blue Knights redistributed their point production.
Jake Koretz scored a game-high 13 points and Jeremy Callahan led a comeback for the second straight night as Wyoming Seminary defeated Nanticoke, 53-43, in Saturday night’s championship game at Hazleton Area High School.
“I think transition was key for us, getting out and running,” said Koretz, who also dished out five assists, grabbed five rebounds, made three steals and blocked two shots. “No matter what lineup we have in the game, we have confidence that everybody can put the ball in the hole.”
One night after Nanticoke used a 52-point second half to rally past Hazleton Area, the Blue Knights held the Trojans to 14 points in the second half.
Callahan’s contributions through three quarters were primarily on that end of the floor. He scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter when Wyoming Seminary outscored Nanticoke, 25-10.
“We’re always leaning on Jeremy down the stretch,” Koretz said. “He made some really huge shots.”
Dimitri Gnall scored 12 points in the first 12:20, but never took another shot. He played just 5:26 of the last 18:32 after banging knees with Nanticoke’s Nate Kreitzer.
Kreitzer slowed down, too, but for a different reason.
After scoring 26 of his 35 points in the second half of the semifinal with Hazleton Area, Kreitzer made his first three shots and had 7 points after 9 minutes.
With Callahan making him work for every shot, Kreitzer did not score for 21 minutes before settling for a team-high 14.
Nick Ganter, second on Wyoming Seminary in scoring behind Gnall during the regular season, scored just four points after suffering an ankle injury in Friday’s win over Crestwood.
“Dimitri was kind of our first-half guy,” Wyoming Seminary coach Pete Moses said. “He came into the locker room at halftime with 12, but we knew we couldn’t go with him in the second half because I knew he was favoring his knee.
“ … Jeremy and Jake, down the stretch, were huge for us both offensively and defensively.”
Callahan made all three of his 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter and was 3-for-4 from the line.
Ethan Meuser, who spelled Gnall and Ganter on the inside, and Koretz were also efficient offensively.
Meuser missed only one shot while scoring eight points. He was 3-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the line.
Koretz was 4-for-6 from the floor, including 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, and 3-for-4 from the line.
“We’re honored to be the first champion,” said Moses, whose team is 22-2 with losses to only division rival Holy Redeemer and defending state Class 5A champion Abington Heights. “It’s especially an honor for us that we beat two great teams twice this year – on their home courts and on neutral courts.
“We did not get a shot at Crestwood or Nanticoke at our place. To beat two great coaches and two great teams, twice, that just tells you a lot about my boys.”
Callahan, who had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s semifinal rally past Crestwood, again provided the late offense.
Nanticoke led by 10 three times, including before Koretz hit a 3-pointer for Wyoming Seminary’s first scoring of the second half with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
That started a 29-12 closing run by the Blue Knights.
Callahan tied the game twice early in the fourth with 3-pointers, then Todd Phillips gave the Blue Knights their first lead of the half by hitting both ends of a one-and-one.
Koretz hit the front end of a one-and-one with 4:41 left, putting Wyoming Seminary ahead to stay, 39-38, and Callahan followed with another 3-pointer when Phillips got an offensive rebound and found him.
Phillips finished with game-highs of 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
Trahjan Krupinski scored 13 points for Nanticoke.