LOGJAM AT TOP
Division 1 of Wyoming Valley Conference boys went from a two-way tie at the top to becoming one of the only two among the 12 divisions of basketball in District 2 to feature a three-way tie following the results of Friday’s action.
The lead will be down to a two-way tie or a single team Tuesday night because two of the leaders meet when Hazleton Area plays at Crestwood.
Both Hazleton Area and Crestwood were unbeaten in the division going into Friday. Pittston Area defeated Crestwood, 45-34, Friday and joined the first-place tie with Wilkes-Barre Area also defeated Hazleton Area, 73-63.
Pittston Area is home against Nanticoke, needing a win to remain in first place with the Hazleton Area-Crestwood winner.
Crestwood and defending champion Hazleton Area are co-favorites, but a deep, balanced race has developed.
In addition to the three teams sharing the lead, Dallas and Wilkes-Barre Area have shown potential.
Dallas has lost to the three leaders by one, three and seven points. Wilkes-Barre Area’s has been even better against the leaders with Friday’s win, along with one- and three-point losses.
Crestwood is third, Hazleton Area fourth and Pittston Area sixth among Big Schools in the Riverfront Sports Super Six Power Rankings of District 2 teams.
Current division standings are: Crestwood 5-1, Hazleton Area 5-1, Pittston Area 5-1, Dallas 3-3, Wilkes-Barre Area 3-3, Nanticoke 2-4, Wyoming Valley West 1-5, Berwick 0-6.
The WVC’s new program this season is the Wilkes-Barre Area Wolfpack, a combination of students from Coughlin, GAR and Meyers.
Plans are in place for the new Wilkes-Barre Area school, but, for now, students from three schools get together to play as one team.
There have been some ups and down in the team’s first season, including a four-game, non-league and three-game conference winning streak. The Wolfpack is 3-3 in the division and 6-8 overall.
With the merger of the Wilkes-Barre programs came realignment as the WVC went from 18 teams to 16 and switched from three six-team divisions to two eight-team divisions.
Division 1 now includes five of the teams from last season’s Division 1, two of the top four teams from the old Division 2 and the new program combined from three teams.
Crestwood, Dallas, Hazleton Area, Pittston Area and Wyoming Valley West are left over from the old Division 1.
Nanticoke and Berwick move up from Division 2.
Wilkes-Barre Area is made up of the other former Division 1 team (Coughlin) and two teams from Division 2.
Hazleton Area, in Division 1, and Nanticoke, in Division 2, won division titles in playoffs.
The final Division 1 standings: Hazleton Area 14-2, Crestwood 14-2, Dallas 10-6, Pittston Area 9-7, Coughlin 4-12, Wyoming Valley West 1-15.
The final Division 2 standings: Nanticoke 12-5, GAR 12-5, Tunkhannock 9-8, Meyers 7-10, Wyoming Area 1-16, Berwick 1-16.
Along with realignment came a new scheduling format.
The league schedule now consists of 14 games, two (home-and-home) against each opponent. In the previous format, crossovers against Division 2 were also part of the league schedule.
ON THE BENCH
Al Semenza is in his first season as Pittston Area coach after previously coaching at Old Forge, Wyoming Area and Western Wayne.
Zach Pientka is a first-season head coach at Nanticoke where John Beggs is sitting out the season for health reasons.
Pat Toole, who had been the coach at Meyers since 2004, is the first Wilkes-Barre Area coach.
The division includes nine players who received division all-star recognition from NEPABasketball.com last season.
Jack Farrell from Dallas and Brennan Higgins from Pittston Area were first-team Division 1 all-stars last season.
Nanticoke’s Colby Butczynski was a first-team Division 1 selection.
Pittston Area’s Mike George, Crestwood junior Ryan Petrosky and Dallas sophomore Nick Nocito are all back after earning second-team honors in Division 1 last season.
Juniors Ryan Harder from Tunkhannock, Jake Krupinski from Nanticoke and Cole Walker from Meyers were second-teamers in Division 2.
Hazleton Area (9-4) and Wilkes-Barre Area (6-8) rank first and second in the five-team ratings formula race for seeding position in the District 2-4 Class 6A Subregional.
Crestwood (11-3) and Dallas (10-4) are second and third out of nine teams chasing the eight spots in the District 2 Class 3A playoffs. Crestwood has already clinched a playoff berth.
Pittston Area (10-4) is fifth and Wyoming Valley West (3-11) last in Class 5A.
Dallas and Pittston Area are one win from clinching postseason berths because District 2 rules call for all teams with records of .500 or better to be included in the playoffs, even if it means expanding the fields.
Pennsylvania high school teams play a maximum of 22 regular-season games.
Tunkhannock is 10-4 and third in the eight-team seeding race in District 2 Class 4A where all teams are guaranteed postseason berths.
Nanticoke is 4-10 and sixth. Berwick is 2-12 and in last.
After Tuesday, there are three more games ahead among the three teams sharing the lead.
Hazleton Area is home with Pittston Area Jan. 31 and Crestwood Feb. 8.
Pittston Area is at Crestwood Feb. 6.