NEPA Sports Nation

Blue Devils claim Marseco boys title

By Tom Robinson,

OLD FORGE – Old Forge coach J.J. Thomas figured it was only appropriate that Anthony Cole stepped into the spotlight as the Anthony D. “Badger” Marseco Memorial boys basketball tournament was reaching its conclusion.

“(Assistant) Coach Rick (Notari) said to them last night that ‘if Badger was here, he would love this team and he would love Anthony Cole’,” Thomas said after Cole hit two free throws with 4.4 seconds left to lift the host Blue Devils over Pittston Area, 30-29. “He’s our Badger. He’s a guy who doesn’t care about scoring, doesn’t care about getting his name in the paper. He cares about the team and he cares about winning.

“He does the little things, whatever he can do to help the team win. And, that’s who and what Badger was.”

In a defensive battle that Old Forge seemed to be in control of for three quarters, Cole’s points were the only two scored by the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter.

Pittston Area led just twice in the game, 2-0 and then 29-28 when Silvio Giardina hit the Patriots’ only 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

Giardina and Anthony Cencetti did all the scoring in the 9-0 fourth-quarter comeback by the Patriots. They had combined for 36 points in a semifinal victory over Wyoming Seminary, but were held without a field goal for three quarters by the combination of Joey Macciocco and Anthony Mucciolo, with a little assist from Dominick Palma coming off the bench.

“Joey Macciocco was having trouble on the offensive end and he found a different way to affect the game on the defensive end,” Thomas said, “and Mucciolo is our best defender.”

Pittston Area’s comeback put Old Forge’s perfect record on the line.

Cole was up to the challenge after drawing a foul underneath the basket.

“It was a great high school game; a great defensive battle,” said Pittston Area coach Al Semenza, who was back on the court that bears his name in recognition of his time coaching the Blue Devils. “It kept everybody at the edge of their seats and it came right down to, a tip of the hat to Cole, for making both free throws.”

Pittston Area got one last shot at pulling out the win, but a 20-footer at the buzzer went off the rim.

Macciocco led a balanced Old Forge attack with seven points. Cole, Matt Kuckla and Tyler Pepsin added six each while Mucciolo had five.

Kuckla had eight rebounds and Cole six. Pepsin had four assists and Palma had three.

Matt Walter went 4-for-6 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the line for Pittston Area while scoring a game-high 13 points.

Ethan Clarke contributed six points, six rebounds and two steals off the bench.

Jack Long had a game-high eight rebounds and Cencetti made four steals.

Old Forge held Pittston Area without a field goal for the first 7:38 and to just one in the first 11:38.

With the Blue Devils contesting every shot, inside and out, the Patriots did not manage a basket from outside three feet until Walter hit from the left elbow with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter.

After Walter’s basket, Pepsin and Mucciolo hit 3-pointers for the last six points of the third quarter and a 28-20 Old Forge lead.

Pittston Area’s offense came to life in the fourth quarter and Old Forge slowed the game trying to protect its lead.

The Blue Devils were 0-for-6 from the floor in the fourth, but turned the ball over just once.

Cencetti hit a floater in the lane, then scored on a strong drive to the basket 26 seconds later to make it 28-24 with 6:56 left.

Giardina pulled up for a 14-footer from the right side with 4:20 left, then there was no more scoring until the final 25 seconds.

“I spent most of my life in this gym,” Semenza said. “I’m thrilled that it was the kind of game it was.”

“If I have to lose to somebody; that young guy (Thomas) is like a son to me. I think he is one of the best coaches in the area. I know the work he puts in and I know how hard he works with his team.”

In other Marseco Tournament results:

Wyoming Area 72, Wyoming Seminary 41

Dane Schutter scored 30 points Friday night as Wyoming Area ran away from Wyoming Seminary in the consolation game.

Wyoming Area outscored Wyoming Seminary, 42-24, in the middle quarters to open a 56-33 lead. Schutter had 13 points in the third quarter when he hit three 3-pointers.

Tyler Sciandra added 12 points and Brady Noone had 11 for Wyoming Area.

Wyoming Seminary got 13 points from Jack Novelli and 10 from Jack Leahy.

Pittston Area 71, Wyoming Seminary 50

Cencetti scored 20 points and Giardina got Pittston Area off to a fast start in Wednesday’s tournament opener.

Giardina, who finished with 16 points, made three 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Patriots took a 24-10 lead.

The Patriots placed four scorers in double figures with Walter adding 12 and Long 11.

Novelli scored 19 and Leahy 14 for the Blue Knights.

Old Forge 53, Wyoming Area 45

Macciocco scored 21 points Wednesday to lead the way for Old Forge in the Badger Game, which is played annually on opening night of the tournament.

Marseco played at Old Forge and coached at Wyoming Area.

Mucciolo added 15 points for the Blue Devils.

Schutter had 14 points and Noone 12 for Wyoming Area.

Macciocco had five points while Mucciolo and Cole added four each as Old Forge extended a 29-25 halftime lead to 42-33 going into the fourth quarter.

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