HS BASKETBALL: Laybourn-Boddie sparks Knights to victory over North Pocono

Jan. 21—SCRANTON — Dohnavin Laybourn-Boddie put a charge into the Scranton Knights without scoring a point.

He came off the bench and gave his team a defensive lift with his pressure on the ball, instincts and intensity. Laybourn-Boddie had three steals, three of his four rebounds, and one athletically impressive blocked shot that shifted all of the momentum in favor of the Knights as they rallied for a 53-47 win over No. 6 North Pocono on Friday night in a Lackawanna Division I-II crossover basketball game at Scranton High School.

"I was just out there wanting to play defense for my team," Laybourn-Boddie said. "I don't take shots. I just grab rebounds and play defense, and that is all they need from me.

"On the block, I kind of stumbled back, but it is all about effort. I got up and blocked it, and we all got hyped."

Scranton improved to 5-8 this season as freshman Tony Battaglia scored a team-high 13 points, which included going 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Tony Battaglia, the coach, quietly earned his 350th career win with no bells and whistles, but it was memorable nonetheless.

"I am so appreciative to all of the players who have come through and built this program," coach Battaglia said. "Reaching that milestone is special and made even moreso by having my son be a part of it and make a contribution to it."

North Pocono (8-6) put together a strong first half and started the third quarter looking to spoil any celebration.

Chris Walsh, Matt Seidita and Keegan Litts each took turns fueling the offense for the Trojans as they built a 36-23 lead with less than 4 minutes to play in the third quarter.

In the first, Walsh scored eight points, which included a pair of 3-pointers that helped give North Pocono a 14-11 advantage. Seidita and Noah West helped push the lead to 27-21 at the half with a 6-2 run to close out the second.

Matt Barrett kept Scranton in the game with three 3-pointers in the first half.

North Pocono came out firing in the third, with Litts converting a three-point play and West and Seidita each scoring on a 7-0 surge that made it 34-21 before Oliver Almonte broke Scranton's deep shooting freeze, which lasted for more than 6 minutes from the end of the second through the third. Walsh added another score, and the lead reached its peak at 36-23.

At that point, Scranton went to its bench and dialed up the pressure. Laybourn-Boddie, an All-Region football player as an athlete, took over, and the Knights started to convert turnovers and missed shots into points.

Dillon Lazdowsky got it started, Rykeese Cenord scored a driving layup off a steal, PJ Murphy swished a deep 3-pointer from the corner and added a free throw, and Jaheam Roberts scored to close the gap to 36-33.

North Pocono had four turnovers in the stretch.

"They did a great job," North Pocono coach Pat Shields said. "You knew it was coming at some point. We had to do a better job of handling it. They got us going backward and once you do that you are probably going to get hurt. We still had chances there. We just didn't finish."

Still energized, Scranton stayed on the attack. Roberts, who also came off the bench and finished with seven points, scored, Murphy hit another, Battaglia made two free throws and Almonte scored on a spinning layup in the lane to complete an 18-0 run that put the Knights in the lead, 41-36.

"The energy was unbelievable," said Almonte, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds. "Dohnny, I mean, he brought the energy, and we all fed off it. I was just trying to get to the rim and finish."

North Pocono responded when Seidita converted a three-point play. But Battaglia didn't allow them to settle in by knocking down his only 3-pointer after missing his first five in the game.

"That felt good right when it left my hand," Battaglia said. "I needed to knock down a big shot and needed to get one."

Scranton answered every push North Pocono threw at it in the final 3 minutes.

Walsh brought the Trojans within 46-45, but Roberts made a pair of free throws right after and added another to make it 49-45. Battaglia made all four of his free throws in the final 15 seconds, which sealed the win.

"It was all about taking my time," Battaglia said. "I was coming up short on my shots in the first half, but my dad told me to keep shooting. I kept my confidence up and made my free throws."

Scranton 53, North Pocono 47

North Pocono (8-6, 4-2) — C. Walsh 6 2-4 16, K. Litts 4 1-3 9, M. Seidita 4 1-1 9, A. Nemitz 2 0-0 5, N. West 2 0-0 4, E. Hrobuchak 1 0-0 2, A. Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 4-8 47.

Scranton (5-8, 2-4) — T. Battaglia 3 6-6 13, O. Almonte 6 0-2 12, M. Barrett 3 0-0 9, J. Roberts 2 3-4 7, P. Murphy 2 1-2 6, D. Lazdowsky 2 0-0 4, R. Cenord 1 0-1 2, D. Laybourn-Boddie 0 0-0 0, C. Chandler 0 0-0 0, K. Conforti 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 10-15 53.

North Pocono 14 13 9 11 — 47

Scranton 11 10 12 20 — 53

3-point goals: C. Walsh (NP) 2, A. Nemitz (NP), M. Barrett (SCR) 3, P. Murphy (SCR), T. Battaglia (SCR). JV: Scranton, 53-40 (SCR: Murphy 14, NP: Staples 12).

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