DISTRICT 2 BASKETBALL: In-depth look at the boys playoffs

Feb. 19—CLASS 6A

DATES: Wednesday, Feb. 22; Saturday, Feb. 25 (Williamsport semifinal is Monday, Feb. 27); Championship, Saturday, March 4th, 8 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena.



TOP SEEDS: 1-Williamsport (18-4); 2-Hazleton Area (14-8); 3-Scranton (11-11); 4-Delaware Valley (9-13)


George Whaley (WIL) 16.0; Oliver Almonte (SCR) 12.6; Dillon Lazdowsky (SCR) 9.7; Jake Brower (DV) 13.8; Ronnie McManus (DV) 10.8; Luke Gennaro (HAZ) 13.8; Chris Catrone (HAZ) 11.2; Brandon Benjamin (WBA) 9.8; Dave Jannuzzi (WBA) 8.5; Zach Konopke (WVW) 13.6

DIFFERENCE MAKER: Oliver Almonte, Scranton. In his junior season and first as a starter, he has emerged as a player who can dominate in the paint both offensively and defensively. His efforts have helped the Knights recover from a very slow start to the season.

FAVORITE: Williamsport. The Millionaires, who represent District 4 in the subregional, are full of talent from top to bottom. They are averaging 64.8 points per game and have won 11 in a row, which includes a 107-72 win over Academy Park from District 1.

SLEEPER TEAM: Scranton. The Knights have had an up-and-down season, to say the least. With a new starting lineup after graduating four starters from last year's team, they suffered some bad defeats but also posted some impressive wins. They defeated Abington Heights, Holy Cross, North Pocono, and Maine-Endwell.

BOTTOM LINE: The good news is that this subregional is sending two representatives to the PIAA tournament. Williamsport, which lost to Scranton each of the last two seasons in the subregional final, has the weapons to dominate the tournament. Scranton will need to play its best basketball if it wants to return to the Mohegan Sun Arena for the sixth straight season.


DATES: Tuesday, Feb. 21; Friday, Feb. 24; Championship, Friday, March 3, 8 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena



TOP SEEDS: 1-Abington Heights (19-4); 2-Dallas (20-4); 3-Pittston Area (14-8); 4-Crestwood (12-10)


Mason Fedor (AH) 12.9; Ryan Nealon (AH) 12.6; Darius Wallace (DAL) 13.8; Michael Bufalino (DAL) 12.0; Silvio Giardina (PA) 15.3); Anthony Cencetti (PA) 15.2; Drew Sechleer (CRE) 15.3; Brandon Burbank (9.5); AJ Nemitz (NP) 15.7; Chris Walsh (NP) 11.9; Evan Laybourn-Boddie (WS) 14.8; Tristan Lee (WS) 13.6; Jake Holbert (WAL) 17.5; Justin Blanding (WAL) 14.8.

DIFFERENCE MAKER: AJ Nemitz, North Pocono. The senior took over as the leader for a team that had to replace almost its entire starting lineup from a group that reached the state playoffs last season. He is a strong offensive threat who can knock down 3-pointers and is a quality free-throw shooter. He is also a stopper on defense.

FAVORITE: Abington Heights. The Comets have been a steady team all season. They played a very competitive nonleague schedule that included wins over Danville, Emmaus, and Shamokin and a competitive loss to Berks Catholic. The team was battle-tested in the Lackawanna Division I.

SLEEPER TEAM: North Pocono. The Trojans are the No. 5 seed and made a late-season push to win the Lackawanna Division II championship. They played stingy defense and gave Dallas all it could handle in a 50-46 loss.

BOTTOM LINE: This is an exciting bracket. Abington Heights established itself as the early favorite. When the team went into an offensive slump, it suffered losses to Valley View and Scranton. Dallas, last year's District 2 Class 4A champion, is a high-powered team with big-game experience. Pittston Area is not going to relinquish its championship easily. Abington Heights still looks like the team to beat.


DATES: Wednesday, Feb. 22; Saturday, Feb. 25; Championship, Saturday, March 4, 4 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena. Third-place game (PIAA qualifier): Tuesday, Feb. 28


2022 CHAMPION: Dallas

TOP SEEDS: 1-Valley View (19-3); 2-Scranton Prep (13-9); 3-Nanticoke Area (15-8); 4-Tunkhannock (12-10)


Eli Yusavage (VV) 14.2; AJ Kucharski (VV) 10.7; Daniel Santaniello (SP) 11.1; James Pettinato (SP) 11.0; Ben Chilson (TUN) 18.3; Dylan Mateus (TUN) 16.2; Jaidyn Johnson (NAN) 18.3; Ibn Jordan-Thomas (NAN) 9.9; Elijah Noe (HAN) 9.6; Dave Schutter (WA) 17.6; Nathan Hugaboom (HON) 12.7; Sean Murphy (BER) 17.6.

DIFFERENCE MAKER: Eli Yusavage, Valley View. This kid knows what it takes to overcome adversity. He's endured a torn ACL and a fractured neck in his career, and this season has led the Cougars to one of their best runs in Lackawanna Division I.

FAVORITE: Valley View. The Cougars have quality wins over Abington Heights and Holy Cross and swept both meetings with Scranton Prep this season. They will need to play with a lot of energy, remain intense on defense and carry the momentum built from winning the Lackawanna Division I championship.

SLEEPER TEAM: Tunkhannock. This team can score. The Tigers get up and down the court and aren't shy about shooting. Chilson and Mateus are explosive offensively. The Tigers have a 59-56 opening-game loss to Scranton Prep on their resume, but recently scored a 72-49 win over Pittston Area.

BOTTOM LINE: Valley View is seeking its first District 2 basketball championship since 1997 and has had the best overall season of the eight qualifiers. The Cougars know that Scranton Prep is lurking. The Cavaliers won seven straight district championships before losing last season in the semifinals to Mid Valley. With the two Lackawanna Division I rivals focused on each other, neither should look past any opponent in this bracket.


DATES: Tuesday, Feb. 21; Friday, Feb. 24; Championship, Thursday, March 2, at 8 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena



TOP SEEDS: 1-Holy Redeemer (22-2); 2-Mid Valley (17-5); 3-Old Forge (16-5); 4-Riverside (13-9)


Jacob Hunter (HR) 16.0; Zach Perta (HR) 12.8; Danny Nemitz (MV) 17.4; Ricky Vinansky (MV) 16.5; Joey Macciocco (OF) 19.6; Anthony Mucciolo (OF) 9.7; Frankie Antoniacci (RIV) 16.6; Connor McNally (RIV) 12.2; Jay Allen (CAR) 15.6; Tyler Donato (CAR) 12.2; Tony Hazelton (LAK) 11.8; Joey Dunstone (LAK) 10.0; Cullen Smith (DUN) 9.5; Isaiah Stull (SEM) 11.8.

DIFFERENCE MAKER: Joey Macciocco, Old Forge. He proved last season he can play at a high level against outstanding competition during the Blue Devils' run to the PIAA Class 2A semifinals. He scored a career-high 42 points in a win over Mid Valley and 31 points in a win over Valley View during the nonleague schedule.

FAVORITE: Holy Redeemer. This team gained a lot of experience last season when it reached the PIAA Class 3A semifinals. The Royals have been impressive this season, and for comparison, they have a 61-54 win over Holy Cross. The six teams from the Lackawanna Division III in this tournament went 2-11 against the Crusaders this season.

SLEEPER TEAM: Carbondale Area. Look, it is going to be a daunting task to upset the top teams in this bracket. This has been a bounce-back season for the Chargers, who did beat Mid Valley in the NBT Bank/Peter Turonis Holiday Tournament in December and posted a win over Riverside on Jan. 27.

BOTTOM LINE: Holy Redeemer is the most talented and respected team. Mid Valley wants to get back to Mohegan Sun Arena after reaching the District 2 Class 4A title game and losing to Dallas last season. Old Forge is up from Class 2A after reaching a pair of PIAA Class 2A semifinal games, so you know this team can play at a high level. The Blue Devils are riding a six-game winning streak, which includes an impressive win over Mid Valley. Yes, the Royals are the team to beat, but don't count out any of the top challengers from Lackawanna Division III that have run the gauntlet of a regular-season schedule.


DATES: Wednesday, Feb. 22; Saturday, Feb. 25; Championship final, Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena



TOP SEEDS: 1-Holy Cross (17-5); 2-Blue Ridge (19-3); 3-Elk Lake (10-12); 4-Mountain View (7-15)


Gabe Gonzales (HC) 13.7; Hayden Hosie (HC) 11.5; Connor Cranage (BR) 21.6; Carson Gallagher (BR) 12.5; Wyatt Casselbury (EL) 13.0; Tanner Stout (MtV) 10.5; Sammy Stashko (MON) 11.1; Jake Antolick (LT) 11.8.

DIFFERENCE MAKER: Connor Cranage, Blue Ridge. The junior has really been a driving force behind an historic season by the Raiders, who won their first Lackawanna League basketball title in school history. He is explosive on offense, can leap for rebounds as a guard, and is the team's most intense all-around player.

FAVORITE: Holy Cross. The Crusaders are the overwhelming favorites to win the title. This is their tournament, having won five of the six events since the PIAA moved to six classifications, with the only one they didn't win being in the COVID-19 year of 2021, when they didn't play.

SLEEPER TEAM: Elk Lake. The Warriors graduated four of their five starters from last season's team. It took some time, but the team is hitting on all cylinders at the right time. Elk Lake has won four games in a row since a hard-fought 57-52 loss to Blue Ridge.

BOTTOM LINE: Holy Cross is playing with a lot of motivation again. The Crusaders are also the best overall team in the field and one of the best teams in the state in Class 2A. They could make a deep run in the PIAA playoffs, but it all starts with a championship effort in the District 2 tournament because only one team qualifies for the state playoffs out of the bracket this season.


DATES: Saturday, Feb. 25; March 1; Championship final, Final and consolation, March 4


2022 CHAMPION: Nativity BVM

TOP SEEDS: 1-Notre Dame (13-9); 2-Forest City (12-10); 3-Bethlehem Christian (12-8); 4-MMI Prep (6-16)


DJ Heath (FC) 14.4; Dylan Bezak (FC) 14.5; Ryan Sones (MMI) 13.7; Brendan Brobst (MMI) 10.1; Elijah Arzuaga (BC) 15.3; Myles Harris (BC) 14.5; Jacob Lewis (Lehigh Christian) 27.9; Austin Frey (Lehigh Christian) 17.8; Colton Stone (SUS) 18.7.

DIFFERENCE MAKER: Dylan Bezek. He has size in the paint and can dominate the boards in this tournament. He has also had a good season offensively.

FAVORITE: Forest City. The Foresters, who lost in the quarterfinals to Roberto Clemente Charter, 62-47, last season, have experience playing against District 11 competition.

SLEEPER TEAM: Bethlehem Christian. The team snapped a four-game losing streak and posted a pair of wins over Alliance Christian and Calvary Baptist to finish the regular season.

BOTTOM LINE: Forest City not only challenged for the Lackawanna Division IV title but also took on some strong teams in the nonleague schedule to better prepare for the playoffs. Those games included a win over Honesdale, a Class 4A program. Because this is a subregional, if a District 11 team wins the tournament, the District 2 team with the highest power rating heading into the playoffs is declared the District 2 champion, which is Forest City. To unseat the Foresters, a lower-seeded District 2 team would have to win the subregional tournament.


Contact the writer: jbfawcett@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9125; @sportsTT on Twitter