By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
WILKES-BARRE – Team Wolfpack had made an occasional threat to pull away in Friday’s 50th annual Dr. George P. Moses Wyoming Valley Conference Senior All-Star Basketball Classic boys game at Holy Redeemer High School.
Then, after the teams moved past the midway point of the second half, Coughlin’s Aaron Bennett settled things for good.
Bennett hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions during a personal, nine-point, 50-second scoring streak that opened a 20-point lead and sent the Wolfpack to a 113-105 victory over Team Beggs/Lunger.
By going 4-for-5 from long distance in the last 8:12, Bennett finished with a game-high 17 points and earned Most Valuable Player honors for the winning team. He went 5-for-7 total on 3s in the game.
“Just to be able to represent Coughlin and all the great players who played there before was awesome,” said Bennett, who was part of the final team at the school.
Holy Redeemer’s Collin Cook finished 4-for-5 on 3-pointers for the game and 6-for-7 overall from the floor to add 16 points.
Bennett and Cook led Team Wolfpack to 20-for-50 effort (40 percent) on 3-point shots.
Kendall Brewster from Meyers went 2-for-3 on 3s to add 12 points.
Holy Redeemer’s Nick Prociak and Hazleton Area’s Warren Seigendall scored 10 points each while leading the team on the boards. Prociak grabbed eight rebounds and Seigendall had seven.
GAR’s Will Johnson put on a show without scoring in the second half. He finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists, including several highlight-reel efforts.
Pat Toole, who coached Meyers this season and will coach the first Wilkes-Barre Area Wolfpack team next season, led Team Wolfpack with help from Mike Day and Jerry Atlavilla, the coaches of the last two Coughlin and GAR teams.
The Wilkes-Barre schools formed a winning combination in the all-star game on a squad that also included players from Holy Redeemer, Hazleton Area, Northwest and Dallas.
Hanover Area’s Evan Materna, another player to go 4-for-5 from 3-point range, had 14 points to lead Team Beggs/Lunger and earn team MVP.
John Beggs from Nanticoke and Spencer Lunger from Tunkhannock coached the team that included their players along with those from Hanover Area, Wyoming Seminary, Crestwood, Berwick, MMI Prep, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area.
Dimiti Gnall from Wyoming Seminary had a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Mike Palmiero from Crestwood also had 12 points.
Justin Finarelli from Dallas pulled off a surprise at halftime, winning the 3-Point Contest over Nate Kreitzer, the career record-holder on 3s at Nanticoke, a school with a tradition of long-range bombers.
Finarelli hit nearly as many 3s in 45 seconds during the contest as he had in the entire season for Dallas as a senior leader, who did more of the team’s unsung work.
Kreitzer went first and posted a score of 11 out of a possible 18, by making 8 shots and getting the bonus by making the last of his 5 attempts from all three spots – each corner and the top of the key.
Finarelli only made one bonus, but won, 12-11, by shooting 11-for-15 (73.3 percent).
“I was surprised, but when you work hard, you can do anything,” said Finarelli, who credited extra shooting sessions beyond scheduled practices, including early mornings at the school.
The Moses All-Star Classic has raised more than $1 million in its 50 years. It supports local service organizations and families with medical needs.