The stars are back in alignment.
Pittston Area is taking control of the Bridge Award, the traveling trophy awarded annually to the school that wins the most Pittston Area versus Wyoming Area sports events.
Wyoming Area led the standings, 5-4, after the fall season by defeating Pittston Area in football on Nov. 2. In the fall, Wyoming Area won girls tennis, boys cross country, girls volleyball and field hockey. Pittston Area won boys and girls soccer, golf and girls cross country.
But Pittston Area has dominated the winter thus far, having won a boys basketball game in the DeMinico Game, the girls basketball game in the Pittston Holiday Tournament and a WVC swim meet to lead 7-5.
Ten is the magic number and with three winter events to go – wrestling, a second swim meet and ice hockey – PA is in position to clinch the Bridge Award for the fifth consecutive school year, and seventh of nine overall. The Patriots have been considered prohibitive favorites in wrestling and swimming and a modest favorite in ice hockey.
The teams wrestle on Feb. 14 at PA and the Warriors haven't beaten PA in well over a decade. The second swim meet is the day before that. PA won the first swim meet by a big score and WA is without one of its top swimmers, Tia Brown, who is out with a knee injury.
Then there's ice hockey. The annual Blue ‘n' Gold Skate game is set for 9 p.m. on Feb. 22 on rink 2 at the Revolution Ice Centre. Going into Friday when WA played Scranton, the Warriors were 0-8 and PA was 3-5-1. But PA started out slow and has since picked up.
Ice hockey, a team sport, is more prone to upsets than wrestling and swimming, where it is well-known what individual players can do.
If PA wins all three of the remaining winter games, it would lead 10-5 and clinch, no matter what happens in the spring. With girls soccer moved to the fall, boys volleyball dropped by both schools and the track teams in different divisions, there are only three points at stake in the spring in baseball, softball and boys tennis, so the best WA could do would be eighth, again, unless it pulls an upset in the winter.
In the 10 school years 2002-03 through 2011-12, Pittston Area teams have a 98-62 record against Wyoming Area teams. That's a .612 winning percentage.
The first two school years of the competition - 2002-`03 and `03-`04 - the winner was decided by the overall winning percentage of the schools' teams in sports where they played each other with head-to-head games weighted for two points. Pittston Area won both of those years. Beginning with the `04-`05 season, the formula was changed to a simple head-to-head competition. Whichever school won the most games against the rival school won the trophy.
Pittston Area won decisively in five of the first seven years of head-to-head. Pittston Area won 13-8 in 2004-`05, 16-5 in 2007-`08 and 13-8 in 2008-`09, 13-8 in `09-'10, 12-5 2010-'11 and 13-5 in `11-`12
WA won two close ones. In 2005-`06, WA won, 11-9, and had to win the last two games, softball and baseball, to clinch. In softball Pittston Area had beaten Wyoming Area, 12-2, earlier in the season and 11 consecutive times since 1997. But Wyoming Area pulled the upset, 6-5, to give the school a 10-9 lead with the just one baseball game left. Wyoming Area had to win the game because, if the Bridge standings ended 10-10, Pittston Area would have retained the trophy. There is no tiebreaker. Wyoming Area won, 6-5.
In 2006-07, Wyoming Area won, 12-11, after being behind 11-10 with two games to go, boys tennis and softball. WA won the tennis match, 3-2, setting up a winner-take-all softball game. Lots of drama, as the Bridge Trophy was at the field for all to see. Wyoming Area won.
Pittston Area doesn't go in for such drama. It clinched early every time it won like last school year when it led 13-1 going into the spring and won, 13-5.