Pittston Area senior James Tobisch had plenty of reason to look forward to Tuesday night's home basketball game with Crestwood – and to be nervous when the Patriots spent much of the night clinging to a small lead.
We were 0-3 against them last year, Tobisch said. I really wanted to win this game.
Tobisch helped make that happen by scoring six of his team-high 12 points in the final 3:44as the Patriots posted a 39-36 Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 victory.
Pittston Area scored the game's first six points, never trailed and led by as many as nine. Crestwood rallied, however, and got to within one point four times in the fourth quarter. On two of those occasions, Tobisch scored to push the lead back to three.
Among Tobisch's baskets was on a pass from Mason Gross after breaking the Crestwood press to produce the game's final points with 39 seconds left.
Pittston Area made sure Cole Wasco had to take a difficult shot for the potential tie at the final buzzer.
When we played them in the playoff game, we were winning at halftime, but they came back to knock us out of the playoffs, Tobisch said of the game that ended Pittston Area's 2011-12 season. That was in the back of my mind most of the time.
Crestwood's pressure defense forced eight third-quarter turnovers and helped keep Pittston Area to a single point for span of 7:32 during the second half.
The third quarter was brutal, but they're so good defensively, Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. You don't plan for that to happen, but you know it could happen.
Tobisch, Gross and James Emmett combined to give Pittston Area a vital rebounding advantage on a night when it committed 20 turnovers to just eight by Crestwood.
Gross was 4-for-5 while scoring nine points and grabbing a game-high seven rebounds. Emmett added seven points and six rebounds.
James Emmett did a good job defensively and a fantastic job on the boards, Kiesinger said.
The Patriots outrebounded the Comets, 27-20, including an 8-4 edge in the fourth quarter.
Pittston Area and Crestwood entered the night tied for third in the division with 3-1 records while Hazleton Area and Wyoming Valley West battled for first place. When the night was over, Pittston Area had moved into a second-place tie heading into its Friday game at first-place Valley West.
The win allowed Pittston Area to climb to third in the race for District 2 Class AAA playoff seedings behind only Abington Heights and GAR in the 17-team field.
Tobisch, Emmett and Gross got the Patriots started, hitting the team's first three shots for a 6-0 lead.
Crestwood scored the next six points to create the game's only tie before Tobisch converted his own rebounds to start a 7-2 burst by Pittston Area. By the time the Patriots were done, they were 6-for-8 from the floor and had a 13-8 lead.
Pittston Area's defense hassled Crestwood into missing its first nine 3-point attempts before Brady Gallagher connected with 2:24 left in the half to cut the Patriots lead to 20-15.
Gross fed Hassan Maxwell for a basket with eight seconds left in the half and scored inside for the only basket in the first 2 ½ minutes of the second half, allowing Pittston Area to stretch its lead to 24-15.
The game became much more difficult from there.
When Crestwood turned up the defensive pressure, Tobisch supplied a counterattack by moving into open spots on the offensive end of the floor.
I was just looking for open shots, he said after finishing 5-for-6. Mason Gross gave me a wide-open look running down the floor.
My teammates gave me the ball in perfect spots.
Steve Roberts made his first four shots while scoring 13 points for Crestwood.
Tobisch, Gross and Emmett combined to shoot 12-for-17 (70.6 percent), including 12-for-13 (92.3 percent) from inside the 3-point arc. They helped the Patriots shoot 16-for-28 (57.1 percent) for the game.
Lucky Williams drove through the Pittston Area defense for 19 points Friday night to keep Wyoming Valley West on top of Division 1 of the WVC with a 58-54 victory.
Pittston Area entered the night with a chance to force a tie for the division lead, but instead dropped into a three-way tie for with Hazleton Area and Crestwood for second place at 4-2.
Wyoming Valley West took charge with the last nine points of the first half for a 28-18 lead.
The Patriots cut into their deficit in the second half and the final margin four when Michael Schwab hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left.
Mason Gross led Pittston Area with 17 points. James Tobisch added 14.
GAR hit 10 shots from 3-point range and outscored Wyoming Area in every quarter Tuesday while remaining unbeaten in Division 2 of the WVC with a 71-41 romp over Wyoming Area.
Isaiah Francis had 14 points and two GAR teammates added 12.
Mike Carey hit three 3-pointers while scoring 11 points for the Warriors. Bart Chupka added 10.
Brian Banas scored 15 points and Mike Boutanas added 14 Friday when Holy Redeemer kept Wyoming Area winless in Division 2 play with a 52-40 victory.
The Warriors played the Royals on even terms after falling behind 25-13 at halftime.
Bart Chupka scored 17 points and Mike Carey added 11 for Wyoming Area.
Coughlin at PA
WA at MMI
Berwick at PA
Lake Lehman at WA
Valley West … 6-0 … 9-5
Hazleton… 4-2… 9-4
Pittston Area … 4-2… 8-6
Crestwood… 4-2… 9-5
Tunkhannock … 3-3… 4-9
Berwick… 2-4 … 3-10
Coughlin… 1-5 … 3-11
Dallas… 0-6 … 1-13
GAR… 5-0 … 7-7
Nanticoke… 3-2… 7-7
Lake Lehman … 3-2… 6-6
Holy Redeemer … 2-3… 3-10
Wyoming Area … 0-5 … 1-13