WILKES-BARRE – Two sophomores from the Greater Pittston area made big contributions to District 2 boys basketball championships.
Nick Prociak, a powerful center from Jenkins Twp., was an unstoppable force coming off the bench and was the leading scorer March 2 when Holy Redeemer knocked off top-seeded Mid Valley, 38-36, in the Class 3A final at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Tyler Mozeleski, a guard/forward from Yatesville, had an off shooting day at the arena, but was a big part of Holy Cross’ run up to the Class 2A final as the second-leading scorer on a Crusaders team that crushed Mountain View, 46-18, for the championship.
Holy Redeemer made the most of a size advantage, which became even more distinct when it put Prociak, its largest player, on the floor.
At 6-foot-6 with a bigger build than the other post players, Prociak was able to establish his position in the low post to receive entry passes. The Royals looked to run their offense through those passes on nearly every possession as Prociak scored two-thirds of the team’s points during the 22:34 he was on the floor.
“We go to him that often, every single night,” Holy Redeemer coach Paul Guido said. “As soon as possible, we get him the ball, from the minute he checks in until we think he’s run a pretty good amount. When he gets winded, we take him out and change a little bit and go away from that.
“No matter who we’re playing every night, we’re trying to get him some touches down inside for sure.”
Prociak was 5-for-5 from the floor in the second half and made his last seven shots to finish 8-for-12 with a game-high 16 points. He also was his team’s second-leading rebounder with seven.
“We knew we had a size advantage so coach wanted us to pound it inside as much as we can,” Prociak said. “My teammates trust me so I do what I can.”
Prociak did a lot.
He started, ended and added a basket in the middle of a 10-4 run over the third and fourth quarters to erase the game’s biggest deficit and create a 30-30 tie with 5:25 left.
After forcing that tie, Prociak broke the game’s last tie and created the ninth and final lead change.
Holy Redeemer called timeout with 1:43 left and the game tied. The Royals worked the ball patiently, getting it into the Prociak, who kicked it out to Joey Judge.
Judge, who had just driven for the tying basket on the previous possession, drove again. When he did, Prociak rolled to the basket, took in Judge’s return pass and scored for a lead with 1:10 remaining.
Prociak’s basket ended up producing the last points of the game, lifted Holy Redeemer to the victory that broke a 15-game winning streak by Lackawanna League Division 3 champion Mid Valley.
“He has great hands,” Guido said. “He has great ability to catch the ball, not only from rebounding, but on some pick-and-roll situations.”
Prociak started for much of the first half of the season before Guido decided to use his minutes in a different way to alter games. He was one of three players within a point per game of each other for the team scoring lead while leading the team in field goals made.
“He’s definitely a low-post scorer,” Guido said. “And, he’s a great rebounder.”
Mozeleski started but did not score in the Class 2A championship game. He grabbed three rebounds and was part of a team defensive effort that held Mountain View to the lowest scoring output in the 20 championship games held in two years at the arena.
Holy Cross forced 20 turnovers while holding Mountain View to 18.8 percent shooting.
“At Holy Cross, we play really aggressive defense,” said Mozeleski, who went to Holy Rosary in Duryea before attending Holy Redeemer for one year and playing on the freshman team. “We know that it starts our offense every game.
“ … We figured the harder we came out and the harder we played, the better off we would be.”
The Holy Redeemer girls also won a district title by knocking off a top seed. The Lady Royals handed Dunmore its first loss, 51-37, in a March 4 battle of state-ranked teams.
Annie Bagnall, a freshman from West Wyoming, was on the varsity roster and saw limited time this season, but did not play in the championship game for Holy Redeemer.
Bagnall played at Wyoming Area Catholic.
Sam Rajza, Samantha Yencha and Cameron Marcinkowski are also former Wyoming Area Catholic players on the district championship team.
Rajza, the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 co-Player of the Year, was the team’s leading scorer on the season. Yencha, a freshman, shared scoring honors in the district final going 5-for-7 for 12 points and nine rebounds. Marcinkowski also saw significant playing time as a freshman and made an appearance in the championship game.
Yencha, Marcinkowski and Bagnall were all part of Wyoming Area Catholic’s state eight-grade title last year.