DUNMORE – Holy Cross needed a spark.
Tyler Mozeleski was there to provide it.
Mozeleski missed just one shot while scoring 10 of his 16 points in the second quarter, sending the Crusaders to a 65-59 boys basketball victory over visiting Pittston Area.
The junior from Yatesville helped Holy Cross to the win against his home school district while also helping the defending District 2 Class 2A champion Crusaders snap out of some early-season doldrums.
Holy Cross, which had lost its opener by 40 points against Abington Heights, had been outscored 43-6 over a 15 ½-minute stretch that included the fourth quarter of the opener and most of the first quarter of the Pittston Area game.
“He’s obviously one of our biggest offensive threats,” Holy Cross coach Al Callejas said. “We got down early; 17-5 at one point.
“Tyler had a big second quarter for us. He was in the middle of that comeback. He hit some big shots.”
After Kieran Burrier scored to end the first and start the second quarter, Mozeleski converted a three-point play.
Mozeleski tied the game for the first time, 19-19, on a drive with 5:05 left in the half then created one of six second-quarter lead changes by hitting his only 3-point attempt of the quarter for a 25-23 lead with 3:35 left.
While going 3-for-4 from the floor in the quarter, Mozeleski was also 3-for-3 from the line.
“Last year, he led us in 3s,” Callejas said. “We talked as soon as the season was over. I explained to him that he needed to do more because they’re going to go out and guard him.
“He’s going to be the main focus outside. People aren’t going to let him get those shots. To his credit, he’s worked on going to the hole and he’s developed a nice little pull-up jumper.”
Patrick Galvin scored 17 points, Caleb Callejas had 16 and Burrier 11 for Holy Cross, but the Crusaders comeback was also about who was not available for Pittston Area.
Each time the whistle blew, it seemed the Patriots were one step closer to blowing their early leads of 7-0 and 14-3.
Holy Cross went 30-for-39 from the line while Pittston Area was 16-for-23.
The impact of fouls went well beyond the extra 14 points the Crusaders picked up at the line.
“Fouls affected my lineup and it swung the momentum the other way,” Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. “Then, we were playing some guys in spots they may not have been used to playing.”
Holy Cross was unable to match up with Brian Miller, Pittston Area’s 6-foot-5 senior center.
Miller started 4-for-4 to give Pittston Area a 9-2 lead 2:55 into the game.
Just 41 seconds later, Miller was done for the first half with two fouls. After 39 seconds – and another foul – Miller was done for the third quarter. He had plenty 24 seconds in the fourth quarter when he was whistled for a fourth foul away from the ball while teammate Andrew Krawczyk was hitting the tying 3-pointer.
Miller returned for the final 1:57 and did not foul out, but the foul trouble had limited him to 7:37 of playing time in which he had eight points and three rebounds.
He was not alone.
Keemar Woodruff came off the bench to provide nine points, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Woodruff replaced Miller and turned an offensive rebound into a three-point play and Pittston Area’s biggest lead of the second half, 38-34, with 6:58 left in the third quarter. He was whistled for his first three fouls, all in the next 1:28.
With Miller and Woodruff both relegated to the bench in foul trouble, the Crusaders scored the next eight points and trailed just 29 seconds the rest of the way.
Starters Matt McGlynn and Naseem Guillaume fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“We can’t give up 30 points at the free throw line,” Kiesinger said.
Alex McAndrew, who had his junior season cut short by a torn anterior cruciate ligament that required reconstructive knee surgery, aggravated the knee and left with 2:43 remaining and the game tied, 58-58. He wound up sitting out Pittston Area’s two games later in the week.
With McAndrew and Guillaume out and McGlynn soon to follow, Holy Cross outscored Pittston Area, 7-1, the rest of the way.
McAndrew led the team in four statistical categories in the game with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
“He’s playing without fear, which is good after that injury,” Kiesinger said.
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at email@example.com.