Doin’ Dunmore: U of S hires Lady Bucks coach Ben O’Brien

By Steve Svetovich

Where will a 347-43 record in 14 high school girls basketball seasons get you?

Besides two PIAA championships and 10 district titles, it helped get Ben O’Brien the position of head basketball coach for the University of Scranton Lady Royals.

The veteran Dunmore girls basketball coach was named the eighth head coach of the University of Scranton Lady Royals Tuesday, July 26.

He replaces Nick DiPillo whose Lady Royals teams went 58-8 in three seasons. DiPillo accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh in June.

“We are very happy for Ben,” said John Marichak, superintendent of Dunmore School District. “We are sorry to be losing such a great teacher, coach and role model. His efforts and contributions to the students of Dunmore are appreciated and will be missed.”

The University of Scranton’s search committee interviewed eight candidates remotely before inviting the top four to campus.

O’Brien’s 347-43 coaching record at Dunmore is remarkable and now legendary.

Dunmore senior standout Ciera Toomey, who has committed to the University of Connecticut after she graduates in 2023, commented on the loss of her coach. “I am so happy for coach O’Brien because he really deserves this,” she said.

“He has done so much for our Lady Bucks program. We will really miss him this season and going forward, but the University of Scranton got a great one. I am really excited to see what he is going to accomplish there.

“I am so thankful for everything he has done for me and all the girls who went through the program.

“I think it’s safe to say the University of Scranton just got a lot more fans from Dunmore.”

The University of Scranton’s athletic director is Dave Martin, whose daughter Maddie was a 1,500-point scorer for Dunmore under O’Brien from 2013 to 2017.

O’Brien, 42, developed a dynasty at Dunmore. The Lady Bucks won at least 21 games 13 times in O’Brien’s 14 years there. The only exception was the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 season when the Lady Bucks finished 15-1.

O’Brien led Dunmore to 13 league championships and 10 district titles with 13 state tournament appearances. Dunmore won at least one state playoff game in every appearance and reached the quarterfinals 10 times.

O’Brien earned The Associated Press Class 2A Coach of the Year in 2011 and The Times-Tribune Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2019.

O’Brien plans to resign as social studies teacher at Dunmore.

He leaves a lasting legacy and inherits a Lady Royals program that has won seven straight Landmark Conference Championships and advanced to the Sweet 16 last season with a 27-3 record.

Dunmore sophomore Sophia Talutto is one of the talented players O’Brien leaves behind. “Obviously, I am very happy for him and do think he deserves this,” she said. “It is upsetting to see him go somewhere else, but it is an amazing opportunity for him that he couldn’t pass up.

“Coach O’Brien put countless hours into the Lady Bucks program. It truly shows how much of an impact he made.

“I am very excited to see him grow in the collegiate level and wish him the best of luck at the University of Scranton.”

Lady Bucks Advance to Second Round in State Playoffs Before Shutdown 

Lady Bucks Ciera Toomey

Ciera Toomey, a freshman with the Dunmore Lady Bucks is shown in action. She has been named to the Lackawanna League Basketball Coaches first team all-stars. (Photo credit: Rich Banick Photography)

By Steve Svetovich

The Dunmore Lady Bucks were on a roll.

Only a national pandemic could stop them.

And then the season came to a quick halt.

The Lady Bucks, coached by the veteran Ben O’Brien, defeated Neumann-Goretti, 65-51, in the second round of the PIAA Class 3A girls basketball playoffs at Freedom High School in Bethlehem Tuesday, March 10.

Dunmore easily beat Constitution, 62-23, Friday, March 6, in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A girls basketball playoffs.

But the Coronavirus threat halted the end of the winter sports season and sent high school athletes home. A national shut down, which does not include “life essential ” workers, has been since extended to April 30. 

Social distancing is the mantra now to help thwart the spread of COVID-19, and keeps local athletes away from teammates. It’s simply keeping people away from each other. 

Businesses, schools, gyms, restaurants, sports arenas, concert venues, movie theatres, life as we know it, are shut down.

Dunmore sophomore Moriah Murray scored 23 points and added five assists in the win against Constitution. She hit four 3-pointers.

Dunmore freshman Ciera Toomey added 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Murray exploded for a career-high 33 points, including seven 3-pointers, in the second round win over Neumann-Goretti, 65-51, Tuesday, March 10, at Freedom High School in Bethlehem. She added six rebounds and three assists.

Toomey scored 22 points and added seven assists and five rebounds.

Elisa Delfino hauled down five rebounds. Anna Talutto and Alexis Chapman contributed three assists each. Mia Blume had two assists.

Murray and Toomey were both selected as Lackawanna League Coaches first team all- stars. Talutto and Blume were honorable mention.

Lady Bucks Moriah Murray

Moriah Murray, a sophomore, shown here on the court for the Lady Bucks basketball team, has been named to the first team all-stars by the Lackawanna League Basketball Coaches.

“It’s sad to see that our season could potentially be over,” Murray said to The Dunmorean. “as we felt our team had more to accomplish.

“I’m proud of how our team came together and won a league and district title. I will be very sad if we can not finish our season for my teammates and especially for the seniors.”

Murray swished her first six 3-pointers, none shorter than 23-feet, against Neumann-Goretti. The sharp shooter hit on 10-of-15 shots in the win.

Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year Diamond Johnson scored 35 points for Neumann-Goretti.

Dunmore had a 39-21 lead at one point, but Johnson helped lead a comeback. She scored 10 points in two and one-half minutes to cut Dunmote’s lead to eight points after three quarters.

However, Murray hit one of two foul shots after a technical, the scrappy Anna Talutto drove into the the paint and hit a soft 12-footer and Alexa Chapman finished a fast break on a Toomey nifty pass. Murray’s wing drive made it seven straight for Dunmore after the technical.

The Lady Bucks all of a sudden had a 56-43 lead with 3:42 left and did not look back.

Only the Coronavirus could stop this team.

Doin’ Dunmore: A Season to Remember for the Dunmore Lady Bucks

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By Steve Svetovich

Memories. That’s what this year’s edition of the Dunmore Lady Bucks will be noted for when its team members look back at this team decades from now.

The team just created great memories for Dunmore High School and the community.

And that was en route to a Lynett Tournament title, District championship and a run to the PIAA Class 3A title game, a 49-43 loss to Delone Catholic.

And the Lady Bucks, trailing throughout the state title game, never gave up making a late run but just falling short.

Dunmore seniors Victoria Toomey, Gianna Delfino, Lisa Tallo, Brooke Frable and Julia Walsh took center court and proudly hoisted the PIAA Class 3A runner-up trophy following the loss in the state title game.

Dunmore’s run through two of the state’s top high school basketball programs will never be forgotten.

The Lady Bucks ended St. Basil Academy’s perfect season in the second round and defeated four-time state champion Neumann-Goretti in the quarterfinals.

The loss in the state title game was Dunmore’s first of the year.

Senior Gianna Delfino said team unity, defense and the coaching staff led by Ben O’Brien were the key to the team’s success this year.

basketballFreshman Moriah Murray led the Lady Bucks in scoring with 15.8 points per game. Murray scored 479 points in her first season of varsity action.

Dunmore senior center-forward Victoria Toomey, last season’s Player of the Year, averaged 12.5 points per game. Senior forward Gianna Delfino, Defensive Player if the Year as a sophomore, averaged 9.0 points per contest.

The attendance in Hershey for the title game was 3,957, with 913 tickets sold in advance through Dunmore athletic director Mark Finan’s office.

The Dunmore community was there all the way to support the Lady Bucks.

The Lady Bucks were losing, 35-12, in the title game when Delfino re-entered the contest and scored the next five points.

Anna Talutto then sparked the comeback even further as she and her teammates scored 17 of the next 18 points as Dunmore pulled within, 36-29, early in the fourth quarter.

But Delone Catholic was just able to pull off the 49-43 win. Time just ran out on the surging Lady Bucks.

Dunmore did get to within five points before a missed shot sealed the win for Delone Catholic. Toomey said she was proud of her team’s effort and how she and her teammates never gave up.

Toomey scored 14 points, Defino scored 10 and Lisa Tallo added nine points in Dunmore’s 50-24 win over Trinity to reach the state title game.

Murray scored 34 points to lead Dunmore to a 54-47 win over defending champion Neumann-Goretti in the state quarterfinal win.

Dunmore also defeated Constitution, 62-14, and St. Basil’s, 47-37, in the first two rounds of the PIAA playoffs.

The Dunmore Lady Bucks finished its historic season with a 29-1 record.

Members of the close knit team include Victoria Toomey, Moriah Murray, Gianna Delfino, Lisa Tallo, Anna Talutto, Nora Haggerty, Katherine Hopkins, Sophia Mandarano, Alexis Santarsiero, Elisa Delfino, Samantha Lewis, Mia Blume, Julia Walsh, Alexis Chapman, Brooke Frable and Molly Zimmer.

Since the state playoffs began in 1974, Dunmore has been in the postseason 29 times.

Dunmore lost previous finals appearances to Cranberry, 44-43, in 1994, and to Erie Villa Marie, 62-39, in 2011.