Leo O’Boyle remained patient when it was difficult to do so.
He is being rewarded now.
O’Boyle opened the playoffs with a season-high, 31-point effort and led Scranton Prep through another win that gained the Cavaliers a return trip to the District 2 championship game at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza and a spot in the state tournament.
The 6-foot-8 senior earned the latest PNC Bank District 2 Boys Basketball Player of the Week award.
O’Boyle missed 10 games, including 9 straight, with a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He watched from the sideline as chunks of his senior year got away while his teammates learned to keep winning without the all-state forward and Lafayette College commit.
When he first returned to the court, O’Boyle did so for as little as three minutes at a time.
“I had limited minutes in the beginning, which was smart,” O’Boyle said. “Earlier in the season, I tried to come back and play at full strength and it just wasn’t happening, so I shut it down for six weeks or so.”
O’Boyle appeared to be at full strength last week. He followed up the 31 points in a 61-39 victory over Meyers with a team-high 14, along with key defensive work, in a 50-31 district semifinal victory over Western Wayne, a team that took the Cavaliers to overtime earlier in the season.
“It was tough sitting out that long,” O’Boyle said. “I’ve never really been hurt for that duration of time. I had never really missed many games in my career at Prep.
“I knew I had to sit out, especially to be back at this time and for the future as well, but my teammates did a great job when I was out. They had a lot of resilience and played great together.”
The Cavaliers showed what they could do without O’Boyle. Now, they are playing together again, looking to extend a 21-3 season.
“I think we’re all just hitting our stride,” O’Boyle said. “Our chemistry is back together and we’re good for a nice run here.”
O’Boyle’s scoring average is up to 15.9 points per game for the season. He is at 18.5 over the last 10 and 22.3 for the last four.
“We’re thrilled to have him back,” Scranton Prep coach Andrew Kettel said. “I’m happy for him personally. I’m sure it was very difficult for him to not be out there with his buddies in his senior year, but we’re thrilled that he’s healthy and feeling better and back with the guys.”
Scranton Prep planned to use O’Boyle’s height to attack Meyers inside early, then move him around later.
The inside attack worked so well with nine points in the first quarter that O’Boyle often stayed there.
“Once I started getting it going inside, I knew I had to keep going back to it,” O’Boyle said. “My teammates got me the ball in great positions and I was able to finish.”
After watching Dahlton Frisbie and Zach Rovinsky combine for 43 points in the overtime meeting during the Lackawanna League season, Scranton Prep concentrated on Western Wayne’s two high scorers in the rematch, limiting them to just 9.
With the Cavaliers frequently playing a triangle-and-two, O’Boyle played Rovinsky for stretches of the game before being spelled by teammates as they subbed in.
“We definitely had a different game plan going in the second time around,” O’Boyle said. “They had two really good players, 1,000-point scorers. We knew if we were going to win that game, we had to stop those two guys.”
O'Boyle, who played for the JB Hoops team during the AAU basketball season, was also the quarterback of Scranton Prep's division and district football championship team that advanced to the state semifinals.
Leo is the son of John and Lori O'Boyle of Scranton.
The PNC Bank Players of the Week award are announced each week on the John Bucci Show, which airs Mondays at 6 p.m. on NEPA’s ESPN radio and is available on demand at http://webca.st/148300.