TUNKHANNOCK – It should come as little surprise Pittston Area and Tunkhannock found themselves tied with less than two minutes left in Tuesday night’s Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 boys basketball opener.
The Patriots and Tigers shared third place in the division last season with 7-7 records, the second straight year in which they split their two league meetings.
Jordan Black made sure that Pittston Area came out on top, 52-48, in the latest of what has been a series of close games between the two teams.
Black went 3-for-4 from the line in the final 1:10 and scored a team-high 14 points as the Patriots opened league play with a win over the team that ended their 2014-15 season in the first round of the District 2 playoffs.
“Traditionally, for some reason, this has turned into a rivalry game for us,” Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said.
The close games have helped in that process.
After both teams made it through non-league play with 4-4 records and entered the league opener fresh off tournament titles, they produced another.
The teams were tied seven times, but they stopped trading the lead after Avery Newhart’s 3-pointer to open the second half gave Tunkhannock its last advantage, 28-26.
Pat Mitchell turned a rebound into the go-ahead, three-point play and Black also scored three points during a nine-point streak that gave Pittston Area a 35-28 lead with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
Chris Klein’s drive to start the fourth quarter built the game’s biggest lead at 42-34, but Tony Maloney led Tunkhannock back.
After Tyler Faux’s 3-pointer, Maloney had his team’s next nine points, allowing Tunkhannock to force ties at 44 and 46.
“He’s a handful,” Kiesinger said of Maloney, who finished with game-highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds. “He was really active in driving to the basket.
“I told our guys they lean on him when they’re struggling elsewhere.”
Alex McAndrew’s drive with 1:33 left put the Patriots ahead to stay.
Black hit the front end of a one-and-one for a 49-46 lead.
Evan Turner continued to pound the offensive boards to cut the Pittston Area lead to one in the final minute. Turner helped Tunkhannock to a 41-28 rebounding advantage with eight points and 10 rebounds, seven of which were offensive.
The Tigers did not score again.
Black hit both free throws with 42 seconds left and Klein made one of two with five seconds left to lock up the win.
Klein keyed another productive night for the Pittston Area bench, combining with Naseem Guillaume to outscore the Tunkhannock reserves, 16-5. Klein, a junior guard, finished as Pittston Area’s second-leading scorer with 10.
McAndrew had eight points, six rebounds and three assists.
Colin Smith, who led the team with eight rebounds, and Mitchell added seven points each. Smith also a strong game defensively with three steals and three blocked shots.
Dylan Osticco led the Patriots with four steals.
“Winning a league game is important, not only for trying to win the league title, but for district seeding,” Kiesinger said.
Crestwood 52, Pittston Area 46
Josh Malkemes scored 15 points and defending champion Crestwood broke away from a halftime tie to defeat Pittston Area, 52-46, Thursday night in a WVC Division 1 game between teams that had won their conference openers.
Crestwood came out of the night tied for first in the division with Berwick and Hazleton Area.
Pittston Area held Crestwood to three points in the second quarter to erase a six-point deficit and create a 17-17 halftime tie.
Jordan Black, Alex McAndrew and Jalen Willliams scored nine points each for Pittston Area.
Wyoming Area 60, Hanover Area 25
Tony Saitta hit five 3-pointers while scoring 17 points Tuesday night when Wyoming Area routed Hanover Area, 60-25, in a WVC Division 2 opener.
The Warriors were in control from the start, then used an 18-4 third quarter to blow the game open, 43-16.
Nick Minnich had 10 points for Hanover Area.
Nanticoke 47, Wyoming Area 30
Justin Casey scored nine of his 15 points in the third quarter Friday when Nanticoke pulled away for a 47-30 win over Wyoming Area.
The Trojans led 12-6 after one quarter and 24-20 at halftime before outscoring the Warriors 13-5 in the third quarter.
Brent Piontkowski added 10 points for Nanticoke, which has the best overall record of any team in the WVC at 8-2 and is 2-0 in Division 2.
P.J. Angeli scored nine points and Tony Saitta eight for Wyoming Area, which is 1-1 in the division and 4-7 overall.
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