BETHLEHEM – Old Forge coach Jared Yanniello sought out an advantage to playing against a Philadelphia school in the second round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A boys basketball tournament.
“We told them all during the week that Nick (Pelosi) is one of the better players in the Lackawanna League,” Yanniello said. “We said ‘Nick, they’re not going to know who you are. They’re not going to know you can shoot. They’re not going to know the abilities you have.’
“We told him: ‘You have wide-open shots, you shoot them.’ He came right out of the gates early on. Then, they had five or six fouls and we kept telling him, ‘go to the basket, go to the basket.’ He kept knocking free throws down.”
Pelosi did all he could, draining 3-pointers early and converting foul shots throughout the game, but his 30 points were not enough when the Blue Devils had their season end in a 69-56 loss to Math, Civics & Sciences at Liberty High School.
The formula was encouraging for Yanniello.
“We had it,” coach said, “but then turnovers killed us. We just turned the ball over too many times.”
The Mighty Elephants and their pressure defense had a lot to do with the 18 turnovers.
“We played tough,” Yanniello said. “That’s a very good basketball team.”
Pelosi made things tough on MCS early. He scored the game’s first five points, hit a 3-pointer to create the last tie at 8-8 and had all of Old Forge’s points in the first quarter to keep the Blue Devils within 16-13.
Even though he missed his last three 3-point attempts with Old Forge trying desperately to rally late, Pelosi put up impressive shooting numbers. The senior guard, and team scoring leader throughout the season, finished 8-for-17 from the field, 4-for-8 on 3-pointers and 10-for-10 on free throws.
Malik Archer matched Pelosi, providing 31 points, 11 rebounds and three steals to the MCS win.
The Mighty Elephants (12-15) stretched the lead to 17 three times in the second half.
With Ben Grochowski scoring seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, Old Forge cut the deficit to eight twice. He also had six rebounds and led the team with three assists and two blocked shots.
The Blue Devils, who won the District 2 title, finished 15-10.