YATESVILLE – The Pittston Area boys basketball team spent Friday night searching.
The Patriots and coach Alan Kiesinger were in search of a combination that could snap the team out of an offensive slump and a losing streak.
When the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 home game with Coughlin was over, the Patriots were still seeking answers.
Kiesinger went with a new starting lineup. He used 11 players in the first half, 12 in the flow of the game while it was still reasonably competitive and 17 in all.
Still, the slide reached six games since the team won its conference opener. Coughlin turned aside Pittston Area, 52-35.
“We can’t make a shot,” Kiesinger said. “We’re searching for an answer. We’re trying to find five guys that will work as a cohesive unit, on both ends, both offensively and defensively.
“Sometimes, we have a good defensive team on the floor and we have no offense and vice versa.”
Aside from a third-quarter flurry that temporarily cut into a 20-point Coughlin runaway, the Patriots continued to struggle to generate points. They have failed to score 40 points twice while losing the last three games by a total of 74 points.
“I know that we’re capable of better than this,” Kiesinger said after the Patriots fell to 1-6 in the division and 5-10 overall. “This does not look like the team you’ve seen in previous weeks.
“I certainly haven’t given up, nor do I think the kids have.”
The streak has reached the point, however, where Kiesinger thought it was time to try something different.
“We talked about it this week,” Kiesinger said. “We had lost five in a row. We were not playing well at all.
“Sometimes you have to make changes. We opened things up. We made it very competitive in practice. We had two great practices leading to this game, then we came out flat.”
Dylan Osticco and Chris Klein made 3-pointers in the first three minutes and Pittston Area had an 8-4 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
Baskets were then hard to come by.
The Crusaders outscored the Patriots, 33-9, over the next 15 minutes.
At that point, with Coughlin in front, 37-17, early in the third quarter, the Patriots had taken 13 shots from 3-point range and just seven from inside the arc. They finished the night 4-for-23 (17.4 percent) on 3-point shots and 13-for-42 (31.0) total from the floor.
“They were in a zone defense and we felt as though we had a few guys who can shoot the 3 on the floor,” Kiesinger said. “They were wide-open looks and I don’t have a problem with the shot if it’s an open shot.
“I didn’t necessarily think in the first half that we took bad 3s. They were open shots. We just didn’t capitalize.”
Just when things started to appear hopeless, Matt McGlynn made a 3-pointer and three teammates scored baskets during a nine-point streak to cut the deficit to 37-26 with 1:58 left in the third.
The Patriots never got any closer.
Charles Cobbs led Coughlin with game-highs of 15 points and nine rebounds.
Jose Rivera came off the bench to provide nine points and two steals in the second quarter when the Crusaders shot 7-for-9. He finished with 14 points.
Colin Smith led Pittston Area with eight points.
Alex McAndrew came off the bench to assist on six of the nine baskets his Patriots teammates scored in the time he was on the floor.
Dallas 67, Pittston Area 48
Ben Donahue scored 18 points to lead Dallas past Pittston Area, 67-48, in a WVC Division 1 game Tuesday night.
Dylan Osticco hit a pair of 3-pointers and led the Patriots with 12 points.
Wyoming Area 55, Northwest 20
Wyoming Area raced past last season’s win total with a fast start Thursday at Northwest in a WVC Division 2-3 crossover game.
The Warriors held the Rangers to two points in the first quarter of a 55-20 rout.
Wyoming Area led 19-7 at halftime.
Sam Greenfield scored 17 points to lead the Warriors, who improved to 3-3 in the WVC and 6-9 overall.
After going winless in the 2013-14 season, Wyoming Area was 3-10 in the conference and 5-18 overall in their first season under coach Pete Moses.
Tony Saitta added eight points and seven other Warriors contributed to the scoring.
Wyoming Area 56, MMI Prep 50
Wyoming Area went 10-for-12 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to hold off MMI Prep, 56-50, in a WVC Division 2-3 crossover game Tuesday.
The Warriors had let a 13-point lead get away against Lake-Lehman in their previous outing, but this time they were efficient once they were ahead late.
Wyoming Area erased a 25-19 halftime deficit and carried a 38-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
Tony Saitta and Anthony Shaver led a balanced attack with 12 points each. Sam Greenfield added 11 and Kyre Zielinski had 10.
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at [email protected]