NEPA Sports Nation

Trojans top Cougars, clinch tie

By Tom Robinson,

COVINGTON TWP. – A.J. Nemitz has established himself as one of the most dangerous 3-point threats in all of District 2 boys basketball this season.

When Valley View kept the North Pocono senior from attempting a single shot from beyond the arc, Nemitz was forced to improvise.

Nemitz found his way to get off shots closer to the basket, making his last six tries Tuesday night, including the game-winning layup with 2.9 seconds left, as the Trojans knocked off the visiting Cougars, 48-46, in a Lackawanna League Division 1-2 crossover meeting of first-place teams.

North Pocono used the Senior Night victory, coupled with Wallenpaupack’s loss at West Scranton, to clinch no worse than a tie for first place in Division 2. Valley View remained tied for first place in Division 1 when Abington Heights also lost in its game against Scranton.

Nemitz led the Trojans with 14 points by hitting from the wing and on a pull-up jumper in the lane in the first quarter, then getting to the rim for four layups with various degrees of difficulty. He scored by converting a pass in transition, by scooping an underhand shot around a defender, while taking a hit on a three-point play and finally, with the game on the line, by putting up a layup from the left side with the defense stuck chasing him from behind.

Keegan Litts set the back screen at the right elbow and Noah West delivered a pass from the left wing to hit Nemitz just as he started cutting down the lane with open space in front of him.

“I came off a back screen down the middle of the lane,” Nemitz said. “I didn’t feel him on my back, so instincts kicked in. I just had to go right up with it. There was not much time on the clock.”

Nemitz was not just responsible for the finish of the play. He was there at the start – in the North Pocono huddle with 7.6 seconds left.

As the Trojans discussed one possible play, Nemitz suggested another that he thought had worked well throughout the game and was a capable of creating multiple options in the allotted time. Coach Pat Shields agreed.

“It was working and we were getting multiple looks off of it,” Nemitz said.

Valley View entered the game as the hot team, having just beaten Abington Heights, the No. 1 Big School boys team in the Riverfront Sports Super Six Power Rankings of District 2 teams Friday, after winning the previous five games of a seven-game winning streak by an average of 27.6 points per game.

The No. 2 Cougars, new to a first-place tie in Division 1, however, could not shake the Division 2 leaders after taking nine-point leads when Eli Yusavage opened the second and third quarters with baskets.

North Pocono never went ahead until it was in the process of holding Valley View scoreless for 3:58 and without a field goal for 5:02 late in the game.

The Trojans finally took the lead when West, who finished with 10 points and 6 assists, fired a pass from beyond the top of the key to Litts under the basket for a 46-44 lead with 36 seconds left.

A.J. Kucharski’s drive ended Valley View’s drought and tied the game with 20 seconds left before North Pocono called two timeouts to set up the winning play.

After Nemitz scored, Valley View raced up the floor to get within 25 feet of the basket, but a hurried final shot was off the mark.

Chris Walsh went 4-for-6 from the floor while adding nine points for North Pocono.

The Trojans, who can wrap up the title Friday at Honesdale, are 7-4 in the league and 11-9 overall. They have won two straight after going through a stretch where they lost four out of five.

“The last couple games we played, both Abington and Dallas are two of the top teams and we were neck-and-neck with them except for a minute or two here and there,” Nemitz said. “So we felt pretty confidence coming in that if we just did our job and cleaned up the turnovers, we’d have a pretty good chance at winning.

“I just told coach back in the locker room, ‘hot at the right time with postseason coming up’.”

Yusavage led Valley View (9-2, 16-3) with 14 points. Kucharski added 10.

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