Athlete of the Month: Emma Conte

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore Lady Bucks senior shortstop Emma Conte is once again among the Lackawanna League Division III leaders in homers and batting average.

Emma, 18, at press time was leading Lackawanna League Division III hitters with six home runs. She was also among the league’s leading hitters with a .522 batting average.

And last season she hit a robust .550 with seven homers.

Daughter of Rich and Kim Conte, Emma is a three-year member of the Dunmore softball team. She is a two-year member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks volleyball team and is a member of the Spanish Club, French Club, SADD and TACT. Emma has a 91 grade point average at Dunmore.

A transfer from Riverside, where she played softball as a freshman, she was first team all-state, All Regional and a first-team Lackawanna League all-star last season.

Emma has not selected a college yet, but knows she wants to continue her softball career and study to become a physician’s assistant.

The slick fielding senior shortstop said her parents taught her a lot about the game. “They both played and were pretty good at it, so I learned a lot from them. They tell me to always be at my best and to be a leader. They tell me to get my teammates going. Keep them up.”

She talked about her future goals. “I want to continue playing softball in college and study to become a physician’s assistant. I want to work hard and get a good job.”

Emma, personable and hard working, said she enjoys listening to music in her spare time and would like to see Post Malone in concert.

The senior standout talked about what it takes to excel at the shortstop position in high school softball. “You need to be loud and call out the plays. You need to be a leader and keep your team up and positive. You need to be able to pick your team up when things aren’t going right.”

She has learned a lot from Dunmore Lady Bucks softball coach Ryan Ferguson. “He is a great coach,” Emma said. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I have learned from him. He teaches us we have to work as a team. He is very big on that. He tells me I have to be a leader. He is not just a coach, but a friend to all of us. We are a team under him.”

Well-spoken and always positive, Emma said she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at Dunmore.

“We have great success here at Dunmore because of my teammates. We all get along so well. You are playing with your best friends.

“My teammates are my best friends on and off the field. We work as a close knit team.

“And that is one of the big reasons I love it here at Dunmore. I have the best friends and teammates all in one.”

Dunmore Freshman Steps Up Her Game

By Steve Svetovich

As a freshman in the Dunmore Lady Bucks starting five, Sophia Talutto made her mark as the season progressed.

But she really stepped up her game when all-state junior center Ciera Toomey went down with a torn ACL in the Lady Bucks district title win over Scranton Prep, 43-42, Thursday, March 3, at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Dunmore senior Moriah Murray hit the game-winning bucket in the district title win while senior Mia Blume led the Lady Bucks with 11 points, but the talented freshman Talutto chipped in with eight points, including two key 3-pointers.

Murray led the way with 32 points in the Lady Bucks 51-25 win over Shamokin in the PIAA Class 4A first round win Wednesday, March 9, but Sophia added 12 points as the team’s second leading scorer.

Murray scored 35 points in Dunmore’s 62-53 overtime win over Villa Joseph Marie in the PIAA Class 4A second round contest Sunday, March 13, at Easton Middle School. Sophia and Mia Blume were the team’s second leading scorers with 12 points each.

The Lady Bucks lost 40-39 in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal at Berwick High School Wednesday, March 16, but Sophia led Dunmore in scoring with 14 points.

So the scrappy freshman became a mighty contributor in the playoffs, with standout teammate Ciera Toomey on the sidelines. Sophia, Moriah, Mia and a few others stepped up their games to the max.

Daughter of Lori and Joseph Talutto, Dunmore, Sophia, 15, averaged about 8.5 points per game as a freshman shooting guard this season.

Her sister Anna Talutto was a key four-year member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks and currently attends Penn State.

“My sister was known for her defense,” Sophia said. “And I learned a lot just by watching her play. She taught me a lot about how to,play good defense. I pattern a lot of my game after her.”

Sophia said she and her teammates were thrilled with the district title win. “A lot of it was for Ciera. We became more aggressive after she went down and fought hard to help get her a district title. We all stepped up, played with more confidence, and played together as a team. We were so happy to get that win. We were happy for Ciera and all of us as teammates.

“With Ciera going down early in that game, it was bad. We all felt bad at first. There were a lot of emotions and then we came through.

“Winning the district championship was the greatest feeling ever.”

Well-spoken and intelligent, Sophia has a 98.5 academic average at Dunmore. She is a member of the TACT Club and is a left wing on the soccer team.

She has played AAU basketball for five years on the NEPA Elite.

Sophia said her parents are a strong influence. “They teach me to always keep going. If you get knocked down, you need to get right back up.”

She has learned a lot from Dunmore veteran basketball coach Ben O’Brien. “He gave me a lot of confidence and is very supportive of everything.”

Sophia enjoys rap music and said she would like to see Tyler the Creator in concert.

As a freshman, she is enjoying her time at Dunmore and looking forward to the next three years. “Freshman year has really been great,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of memories and friendships. I love the community. We have great fans.”

Sophia has time to decide on a college and major, but there is one thing she knows for sure when the time comes. “I want to play basketball in college. I love the game.”

Doin’ Dunmore: A Plethora of Basketball Champions in Dunmore

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.