EXETER – Wyoming Area hurried to do everything it possibly could to pull out a last-minute victory in Monday night’s boys basketball season opener.
The Warriors, however, could do nothing about making Old Forge miss free throws.
After going 7-for-17 from the line to that point, the Blue Devils made nine straight in the final 1:09 to hold on for a 59-58 road victory.
The opener for both teams had been delayed three nights because of Old Forge’s appearance in the state football playoffs.
When the Warriors fell short despite hitting three 3-pointers in the final 48 seconds and fouling quickly to put the Blue Devils on the line, coach Pete Moses chose to point toward the points that got away earlier in the night.
“It’s one of those things where you can’t think too much about the plays at the end,” Moses said. “Wins and losses are determined by the plays throughout the game.”
Moses stressed those points to his team after the game, addressing turnovers and shots taken in key possessions when the team was ahead early. The second-year coach came away, however, proud of his team’s effort and convinced that better times were ahead.
“I think we’re a much better team this year than last year,” Moses said following Monday’s win. “ … The good thing is we get to come right back tomorrow and we don’t have to harp on this loss.”
One night later, the Warriors were in another one-point game at Tunkhannock, but this time they came out with their first win of the season.
Old Forge got its first win on Opening Night despite playing without two returning starters – Mando Sallavanti and Joey Gutowski – who were the leaders of the school’s state semifinalist football team.
Ben Grochowski’s inside work, Nick Pelosi’s all-around play and Eric Parker’s clutch free throw shooting got the Blue Devils through the opener.
Grochowski powered his way to 21 points and 10 rebounds. He had 10 points and nine rebounds in the first half to keep the Blue Devils within, 27-22.
“That was our game plan, to get the ball down low,” Old Forge coach Jared Yaniello said. “Ben’s a three-year starter and he really worked hard in the offseason.
“We had a little mismatch there.”
Pelosi provided 18 points, five steals and four assists. He hit three straight free throws late before missing his final one.
Parker made six straight free throws in a 41-second stretch of the final minute to finish with 14 points.
Tony Saitta had 17 points to lead Wyoming Area and joined Kyle Musto and Anthony Shaver in hitting 3-pointers in the last minute.
Sam Greenfield added 11 points and a team-high six rebounds. Anthony Nardell had eight points while leading the Warriors with five assists.
Wyoming Area 47, Tunkhannock 46
Tony Saitta drove the right side for a layup to beat the final buzzer Tuesday night and lift Wyoming Area to a 47-46, non-league victory at Tunkhannock.
The basket completed a comeback from a 37-30 deficit after three quarters.
Sam Greenfield led the Warriors with 10 points. Kyre Zielinski added nine.
North Pocono 58, Wyoming Area 43
Tom Miner scored 17 points Thursday when North Pocono defeated visiting Wyoming Area, 58-43.
The Warriors held the Trojans to nine points for a tie after one quarter, but North Pocono outscored Wyoming Area in each of the remaining three quarters.
Tony Saitta had 11 points in the loss.
Coughlin 32, Wyoming Area 29
Wyoming Area’s fourth-quarter rally fell short in a 32-29 loss to visiting Coughlin, closing out a busy first week for the Warriors at 1-3.
Tony Saitta scored 12 points for the Warriors, who trailed 29-20 going into the fourth quarter.
Eli McAllister led Coughlin with 17 points.
Holy Cross 56, Pittston Area 36
A tough week on the Pittston Area offense started Monday when the Patriots were held to a point in the first quarter while falling behind by 15 on the way to a 56-36 loss at Holy Cross.
Jordan Black and Alex McAndrew scored 10 points each in the loss.
West Scranton 43, Pittston Area 27
Pittston Area fell to 1-2 with Thursday’s 43-27 loss at West Scranton.
Alex McAndrew led the Patriots with 10 points.
Rivals meet when Pittston Area travels to Wyoming Area Friday night for a non-league game.
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