By Steve Svetovich
Both Dunmore and Holy Cross High Schools have a lot to be proud of with their basketball programs.
The two schools featured three district champions, with the Holy Cross boys’ and girls’ basketball teams winning district championships and the Dunmore Lady Bucks earning a district title last month.
The Dunmore Lady Bucks captured the District 2, Class 4A girls championship with a thrilling 43-42 win over Scranton Prep Thursday, March 3, at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Dunmore senior standout Moriah Murray, the Times-Tribune Player of the Year, capped a frenzied final three minutes making a layup with 26 seconds left, then got a piece of a Scranton Prep outback with three seconds remaining as Dunmore outlasted Prep in the title contest. There were four lead changes down the stretch.
The Lady Bucks, coached by veteran Ben O’Brien, overcame the loss of first-team all-state junior center Ciera Toomey who went down with a knee injury with 1:28 left in the half.
Senior Mia Blume, an unsung hero, led Dunmore with 11 points in the title win. Toomey scored 10 points, all in the first half. Freshman Sophia Talutto picked up some of the slack with eight points. Murray added seven points, including the game winner.
Murray averaged 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season while being named Player of the Year and an All Regional selection. Toomey, who averaged over 20 points a game for the season, was named All Regional at the center position.
Murray hit seven 3-pointers and scored 32 points in Dunmore’s first round PIAA Class 4A win over Shamokin, 51-25, at Dunmore Wednesday, March 9. Freshman Talutto added 12 points. Toomey did not play due to a torn ACL.
Murray, a three-time, first-team all-state guard prior to this season, scored 35 points in Dunmore’s 62-53 win over Villa Joseph Marie in the girls’ Class 4A second-round PIAA playoff game at Easton Middle School, Sunday, March 13. She also added 10 rebounds and four assists, with Toomey injured and unable to play. Talutto and Mia Blume added 12 points each.
The Lady Bucks bowed out in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals with a heartbreaking 40-39 loss to Jim Thorpe at Berwick High School, Wednesday, March 16. Jim Thorpe’s Skyler Searfoss hit a bucket on a five-footer across the lane with four seconds left to defeat Dunmore as Toomey sat on the bench with a torn ACL.
Talutto led Dunmore with 14 points in the loss. Murray added 10.
Holy Cross senior star Kaci Kranson rebounded from a left ankle injury to score a Mohegan Sun Arena record 33 points leading her team to the District 2 Class 2A title over Elk Lake, 62-47, Friday, March 4.
Julie Goetz added 11 points in the district title win. Goetz and Caitlyn Bestrycki both hit key third quarter shots for the Lady Crusaders.
Kranson, named All Regional, is the school’s all time leading scorer with 1,876 points and led District 2 with 27 points per game this season. She led Holy Cross to its second straight district championship and third in four years.
The Lady Crusaders, coached by veteran Barry Fitzgerald, lost to Mount Carmel, 40-39, in the first round of the Class 2A PIAA playoffs. Holy Cross had the lead with 35 seconds left.
Goetz hit on a career best four 3- pointers and led Holy Cross with 15 points in the loss. Kranson added 14 points.
Inspired by its legendary coach Al Callejas, battling cancer, the Holy Cross Crusaders boys’ basketball team defeated Old Forge, 39-27, to earn the program’s ninth district title since the school’s 2007-08 inception Saturday, March 5, at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Logan Tierney led the gritty Crusaders with 11 points in the District 2 Class 2A championship win. Hayden Hosie and junior Kaeden Carr scored nine points each in the district title win. Gabe Gonzales added seven points in the balanced attack.
The entire Holy Cross team dedicated the season to long time coach Callejas. The team played scrappy, spirited basketball all season.
“Coach inpired us,” Hosie said. “Everything we do, we do for him.”
And hustle is the best word to describe the team’s play this season. Team work is what Callejas preaches.
The Crusaders defeated Antietam, 57-49, in the first-round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs at the Lackawanna College Student Union Wednesday, March 9. Tierney scored 19 points to lead Holy Cross. Gonzales added 16 and Hosie scored 12. Carr hit a key 3-pointer to start an 11-2 Holy Cross run to begin the fourth quarter.
The battling Crusaders defeated District 1 champion Church Farm, 55-39, to advance to the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals, Sunday, March 13. Tierney led the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds. “Ever since we learned coach Callejas had cancer, it lit a fire under us,” Tierney said.
Callejas did not attend the game. His son, Al Callejas, Jr., served as substitute coach.
Will Kittrell scored 14 and Carr added 13 in the Crusaders win.
The Crusaders just fell short in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals, 50-48, to Constitution Wednesday, March 16, at Liberty High School, Bethlehem.
Several furious Holy Cross comebacks put a scare to Constitution, but the Crusaders ran out of time in a courageous season inspired by their veteran coach. Callejas was there coaching his team, with the never-give-up attitude.
Hosie scored 14 in the tough loss. Gonzales scored 13, Tierney scored 10 and Carr added nine points.
The Dunmore boys’ team also had a nice season, finishing with a 12-10 record.
Adriel DeNaples, Kevin Walsh and Nico Ruggiero were some of the key players on Dunmore’s team coached by Kevin Clark.
It was a season of champions for the Dunmore and Holy Cross basketball programs in more ways than one.
Congratulations to all of the players, coaching staff, administration and student body.