By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
HAZLETON – The Holy Redeemer girls and Wyoming Seminary boys put together strong second-half performances, particularly on the defensive end, Saturday night while claiming the championships in the finals of the first Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament.
Both teams trailed by 10 points when they started their comebacks.
Holy Redeemer scored 23 straight points in the third and fourth quarters of a 56-40 victory over host Hazleton Area in the girls opener of the championship doubleheader.
Wyoming Seminary limited Nanticoke to 14 second-half points in the boys nightcap to win, 53-43.
Both teams made strong claims to being the best in the entire WVC.
Each came in as the top seed, based on the top conference record in the regular season.
Holy Redeemer, as a Division 2 member, played every opponent in the conference and went undefeated in WVC play.
As a Division 3 team, Wyoming Seminary did not face all the Division 1 teams, but it did see Crestwood, the wild card and its semifinal opponent, in non-league play. The Comets tied for first in the regular-season Division 1 standings.
The Blue Knights swept both Crestwood and Nanticoke in two-game season series, losing within the conference only to divisional rival Holy Redeemer.
“We’re honored to be the first champion,” Wyoming Seminary boys coach Pete Moses said. “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.”
Both teams were led offensively by three players with nearly equal production.
Julia Andrejko led Holy Redeemer with 15 points while Sam Yencha and Cameron Marcinkowski added 14 each.
All three made other contributions.
Andrejko had three steals. Yencha had 15 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. Marcinkowski had 8 assists and played a key role defensively.
The defense shut Hazleton Area out for 8:30 and held the Lady Cougars without a field goal for the final 11:02.
From trailing by 10 late in the third quarter, Holy Redeemer closed the game on a 30-4 run.
Jake Koretz scored 13 points while Jeremy Callahan and Dimitri Gnall had 12 each for Wyoming Seminary.
Koretz also had five assists, five rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
Callahan, who had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s semifinal rally past Crestwood, did all of his scoring in the fourth quarter. In the WVC tournament, he went 7-for-8 from the floor, including 5-for-5 on 3-pointers, in the fourth quarters.
Gnall did all of his scoring in the first half to keep Wyoming Seminary in the game. He played just 5:26 of the last 18:32 after banging knees with Nanticoke’s Nate Kreitzer.
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.
Kreitzer finished with 14 points and Trahjan Krupinski 13 for Nanticoke.
The Hazleton Area girls were led by Marissa Trivelpiece with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals.
Sarah Kuderka added six assists to Holy Redeemer’s effort and also came up with all five of her points during the 23-point streak.
Earlier in the day, Susquehanna captured the Lackawanna League Division 4 boys title in a playoff with Mountain View, which had beaten the Sabers by a point in each of their two regular-season meetings.
Susquehanna, which had never won any division title prior to last season, completed a successful repeat with a 43-40 win in the game at Carbondale’s Peter Turonis Gymnasium.
Bryce Baldwin scored 13 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. Mason Deakin had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Deakin scored eight of his points in the fourth quarter. Baldwin hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds left for a five-point lead, clinching the win.
Mikey Schermerhorn led Mountain View with 16 points, 5 assists and 4 blocked shots. Schermerhorn hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including two in the final 18.1 seconds, bringing the Eagles within four, then three points.
Michael Fanelli added 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Susquehanna got nine points and seven rebounds from Adam Rockwell and three blocked shots from C.J. Stone.
MORE TO COME: Return to NEPABasketball.com Sunday and beyond as we continue wrapping up the conference and division championships and begin preparing for the District 2 tournaments.