An upset opportunity got away from Wyoming Area Wednesday night in a PIAA District 2 boys basketball playoff opener.
Just putting themselves in position to pursue an upset represented progress for the Warriors, however, according to second-year coach Pete Moses.
“It’s the old adage: Your first year, you lose big; your second year, you loses tight ones, your third, you win some tight ones; then hopefully your fourth year, you win some big ones,” Moses said in a phone interview Friday, looking back on the 71-66 overtime loss at Honesdale in the first round of the Class AAA tournament. “We hope that we can stay on our road of progress.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress. I’m really happy with the boys. I hope to see a lot of commitment out of them over the summer, once they’re done with baseball, lacrosse and other stuff.”
Close games are something Wyoming Area has not experienced in the playoffs much for the past decade.
The Warriors have not won a District 2 game since the 2006 team went 3-1, took third place and advanced to the state tournament.
A year later, Wyoming Area lost as an eighth seed. That was followed by eight years when the Warriors missed the tournament twice and were seeded no better than 13th out of fields of 15-17 teams in open formats the other six years.
The losses were as bad as a 59-31 blowout by GAR last year and none were as close as Wednesday night.
The Warriors traveled to Honesdale as the 10th seed in the 16-team field, their highest seed since 2007 as the result of their best regular season since then.
All that progress helps reduce the sting of letting a 13-point lead get away and losing in overtime after not trailing from midway through the first quarter until the final 1:08 of regulation.
“It was a very noisy gym,” Moses said. “As Honesdale was getting closer, the crowd was getting a little more alive. I think our youth got to us at the end of the game.
“ … It is wonderful that we’re a young team. I think this Wyoming Area team next year, wins this game.”
The Warriors had their shots Wednesday.
After a 10-10 tie at the end of the first quarter, they outscored the Hornets, 23-10, over seven minutes to put themselves in position to play for the last shot with a 13-point lead.
A series of events cut that lead to single digits at the half.
When a good shot opportunity developed with 10 seconds left, Wyoming Area took it, but missed. Honesdale got down the floor to not only score, but draw a foul for a potential three-point play. Instead, an offensive rebound off the missed free throw produced another basket and a 33-24 halftime score.
Wyoming Area held on through the next eight minutes, making it to the fourth quarter with a 48-42 lead.
Anthony Shaver, the only senior seeing significant playing time, led the Warriors with 15 points, but he fouled out with almost three minutes left and the team trying to cling to a 62-57 lead.
“When we lost him, it had a ripple effect on the game and on the team,” Moses said.
Honesdale scored the last five points of regulation, then outscored Wyoming Area, 9-4, in overtime.
Ian Langendoerfer, who is headed to play Division I basketball at Loyola of Maryland next season, led the Hornets down the stretch. He finished 9-for-11 from the line for 23 points.
Kyle Musto, who had nine points in the first half, finished with 11 for Wyoming Area. Anthony Nardell added 10.
The Warriors earned the 10th seed off a 6-7 record and third-place finish out of five teams in Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference. They went 9-14 overall. Both records were an improvement over last season’s 3-10 and 5-18 and continued progress from the winless 2013-14 season.
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