SCOTT TWP. – Wyoming Area hit the road Tuesday night for its final tune-up before the start of the Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball schedule.
The Warriors declared themselves ready by showing off the defense that allowed them to arrive at the start of conference play with an unbeaten record for the second straight season.
Wyoming Area held Lakeland to single digits in scoring in each quarter and forced 11 second-half turnovers while pulling away for a 54-31 victory.
“We’re really happy with the way the boys are playing defense,” Wyoming Area coach Pete Moses said. “They’re really responding to what we’re asking of them.”
The Warriors went into Thursday’s conference opener, which they also won, with a 4-0 record, beating teams by an average of 66-30.3.
“We’ve held teams to under 40 every game this year,” Moses said. “We had some nice shooting performances early in the season. We got to put some points up.”
Each starter made a contribution to the defensive effort against Lakeland.
Sam Greenfield blocked three shots and Matt Wright two as Wyoming Area limited Lakeland to 23.9 percent shooting (11-for-46).
Dylan Melberger and Kyre Zielinski combined for five second-half steals and each finished the game with three.
Aaron Zezza had eight of his nine rebounds on the defensive end as the Warriors held the Chiefs without a single second-chance point.
Zezza, Greenfield and sixth-man Dominic DeLuca all contributed two steals.
Wyoming Area never trailed and the last tie was at 2-2, but the game still represented the closest thing to a test that the Warriors have faced so far this season.
Lakeland played Wyoming Area on even terms in the second quarter to get to halftime within 24-17.
“I’m really proud of them tonight for responding to what was our slimmest margin of the half this season,” Moses said. “I don’t want to call it adversity, but we responded to that seven-point lead and came out and held them to 14 points in the second half.
“I thought we did a great job breaking the press and getting some easy lay-ups, which we work hard on.”
Greenfield, who is averaging more than 24 points on the season, scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
“Sammy was able to come out of his shell in the second half,” Moses said.
Zielinski added 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Wright made his first five shots while scoring 10 points, eight in the first half, and also had three assists. Zezza had a game-high four assists.
“We really do have a balanced team,” Moses said. “That’s something we carried over from last season.”