ARCHBALD – Pittston Area brought some excitement to the final week of the boys basketball season.
With seniors Jordan Black and Dylan Osticco leading an otherwise young team, the Patriots pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the District 2 tournament, then put up an impressive fight against a big deficit before being eliminated.
Pittston Area went to Crestwood and came away with a 42-39 win Tuesday night in the Class AAA opening round to get the tournament off to an intriguing start. By beating the fourth-seeded Comets, the 13th-seeded Patriots matched the Mid Valley girls, in Class AA, as the largest upset – in terms of seeding disparity – in any of the eight brackets.
The Patriots then cut a 16-point, second-quarter deficit to six in the third quarter Thursday night before falling to fifth-seeded West Scranton, 50-40, in a quarterfinal game at Valley View High School.
“Tonight’s game was a good picture of what our entire season was – bad starts, ups and downs, but in the grand scheme of things, never giving up, but instead believing in each other that we still have a chance,” Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said after the season finale. “We still attacked. We were down six with 2:30 to play in the third.
“We just couldn’t get over the proverbial hump.”
The Patriots placed seventh out of eight teams in Division 1 of the Wyoming Valley Conference at 3-11. They finished 8-16 overall by adding the playoff win.
Pittston Area used four seniors, four juniors and three sophomores in the district playoffs. Another sophomore, Alex McAndrew, was the team’s second-leading scorer before missing the last month of the season with a lower leg injury.
“I’m excited about where we’re heading,” Kiesinger said. “I think we have some younger guys who are going to work real hard and make the program stronger going ahead.
“I think they can build on the playoff win against Crestwood.”
West Scranton opened leads of 5-0 in the first 1:12 and 12-2 in the first 4:42. By then most of the damage was done. The Patriots never got closer than six after the first three minutes of the district quarterfinal.
“A lot of our guys were in position where they’ve never experienced this playoff atmosphere,” Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. “We win the other night and this game becomes even bigger.
“I think we were just a little bit tight and got off to a bad start.”
Cole Stetzar led West Scranton with 17 points and six assists. He had the game’s first five points, then hit a 3-pointer during a seven-point streak to a 24-8 lead with 2:55 left in the half.
Pittston Area 3-for-14 on 3-pointers in the loss. All three 3-pointers came during a span of 2:49 early in the second half.
Matt McGlynn hit two of the 3-pointers and Chris Klein had the other. McGlynn started and ended an 11-2 run that closed the gap to 31-25 with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
Foul trouble in the backcourt forced Pittston Area deeper in the bench. Kiesinger was pleased with the way less-experienced players like 5-foot-7 sophomore guard Trevor Tigue responded, but the Patriots could not put another run together.
Dylan Osticco hit his last nine foul shots while leading the Patriots with 12 points and three assists. Jordan Black had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Pittston Area 42, Crestwood 39
WRIGHT TWP. — Osticco’s role increased when Pittston Area lost playmaker and second-leading scorer McAndrew to injury midway through the conference season.
Osticco handled the extra responsibilities, improved down the stretch and found himself leading the upset of Crestwood in the playoff opener.
“With Alex gone, more pressure is on me taking care of the ball,” Osticco said.
The 5-foot-8 senior guard led the second-quarter run that put Pittston Area ahead to stay. He was the only Patriot with two baskets in the quarter and he assisted on three others during the 14-4 run to a 24-15 halftime lead.
Osticco, who had seven of his nine points in the first half, then had to stand up to Crestwood’s relentless trapping pressure defense in the second half with help from Black and Jalen Williams.
“He’s grown a lot in the last few weeks,” Kiesinger said. “A big part of the process of the season is guys growing into their roles.
“ … I’m proud of the way he played.”
Osticco led the Patriots in assists (five) and steals (two).
Black led the way on the boards. After putting together a 26-point, 17-rebound game against Dallas in the final week of the regular season, he had double-doubles in both playoff games.
When he scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds in the second half, Black finished with team-highs of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“He was incredible on the defensive boards,” Kiesinger said.
Pittston Area, which also upset Crestwood two years ago during its run to the district championship game, got eight points and five rebounds from Pat Mitchell coming off the bench. Williams, another key sub, provided five rebounds and three assists along with making his only shot and contributing ball-handling and rebounding.
The Patriots held Crestwood to 11-for-56 (19.6 percent) shooting from the floor, including 4-for-21 (19.0) from 3-point range.
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