North Pocono boys fall in District playoffs
North Pocono’s post-season lasted all of four quarters.
At 9-13, the Trojans ended up with a sixth seed in the District Two 5A championships.
That pitted them against third place West Scranton, which finished up its regular season with a 12-10 record.
Among those wins was a 35-17 victory over North Pocono back on January 20.
Although the Trojans were in the game through three periods, the Invaders late push opened a wide chasm that rendered them uncatchable before the buzzer sounded.
Things did not go well for the Trojans in the opening stanza.
A deuce by sophomore Anthony Kosiba and a 2-for-2 stand at the stripe by junior Chris McLafferty were all the points NP managed to muster.
Meanwhile, West shot well and took a 10-4 lead by the end of the period. In the second quarter, the Trojans outshot the Invaders 11-10.
Senior Nick Mokay and freshman Robert Van Brunt each tallied a basket. Senior James Ildefonso also drained a deuce and added one from the foul line while sophomore Ryan Deom banked in a bucket and went 2-for-2 at the line.
At halftime, North Pocono trailed 20-15.
Although Kosiba hit once for two and Ildefonso netted a pair from close range, the Trojans were able to hold the Invaders to just seven thanks to some stiff defense.
With three periods in the books, West was out front 27-21. The 6-point gap widened as the last quarter dragged on.
As North Pocono players racked up the fouls, West Scranton players went to the line. On 11 trips they made good on eight. Not as many calls went the Trojans way.
McLafferty hit 2-of-2 and Kosiba picked up an old-time 3-pointer but came up empty on two later tries. Van Brunt contributed a 3-pointer to the effort.
However, it wouldn’t be enough as West would pick up the 42-29 win and move on to the next round.
Kosiba led the team in scoring with 171 points.
Of that, 60 came by way of 3-pointers and 27-of-55 from the foul line. Van Brunt ended the season with 160. He netted 13 treys and went 29-for-44 at the stripe.
Ildefonso picked up most of his 146 from the paint but he did squeeze off one 3-pointer and put in 23-of-53 free throws.
McLafferty posted a very respectable 42-for-58 tally from the line and chipped in with 13 treys as a part of his season end 127.
Rounding out the top five Trojan shooters was Deom with 83 points, which consisted of 55 deuces and a 25-for-38 showing on foul shots.
While there were six seniors on the NP roster at the commencement of the season, only Ildefonso, Mokay, and Gary Woloszyn made it to the end.
Out of action for all or part of last season, Woloszyn and Mokay graciously yielded the floor many times to younger talent, leaving Ildefonso the lone, consistent senior starter.
Injuries, illness, and other issues put the Trojans line-up into flux on more than one occasion, but what one sees now will likely be what one sees when North Pocono takes to the court next winter.
If all of the JV squad didn’t see varsity action at one point or another, at least most of them did.
Ryan Dommes, Tom Rable, Alec Ciaglia, Dan Walsh, Brett Butler, Sam Perna, and Ed Olenchak are all contenders for serious varsity time next year.
Some off-the-bench players such as Kyle Betti, Joe Thiel, and Mike Kowalski will also receive consideration.
A deep bench of talented players isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, Head Coach Joe Ferguson has pointed out a number of things where the Trojans need to improve.
Lowering the number of turnovers the Trojans give up is high on Ferguson’s list. They are something the coach has admitted plagued the team all season.
Ferguson also notes the team has missed good shooting opportunities and he hopes that changes as his relatively young team gains experience.
What the players do in the off-season will be key to how well they perform next year.
While he encourages his players to pursue other sports, keeping up their basketball skills in summer leagues and during the fall drill sessions is necessary if they want to remain competitive next winter.