Dallas and Lake-Lehman won Wyoming Valley Conference championships in their classifications Wednesday at Fox Hill Country Club, earning spots in the District 2 boys team golf championship matches.
While unbeaten Lake-Lehman was beating Division 3 rival Hanover Area for the third time this season, Dallas was avenging a regular-season loss to win the title match between the winners of the WVC’s two Class 3A divisions.
Dallas defeated Hazleton Area, 323-327, for the right to represent the WVC in Class 3A at Elmhurst Country Club Oct. 1.
Lake-Lehman handled Hanover Area, which has not lost to any other opponent, 318-350, for the Class 2A berth.
Logan Paczewski, one of the nation’s top junior players, had the day’s best score with a 3-over-par, 74, but Dallas also got a big boost when Austin Finarelli tied for the second-best score by any of the four teams competing when he came in with a 75.
Finarelli, a senior who is an all-star and small school college prospect in basketball, is playing high school golf for the first time this season.
Hazleton Area, the Division 2 champion, had won, 163-168, at Valley Country Club in a nine-hole match as part of an unbeaten regular season.
Finarelli matched Paczewski with 38s on the front while Hazleton Area’s Connor Matteo was starting out with an even-par, 35.
Paczewski then played the back in even-par, 36 while Finarelli was just 1-over to wind up matching Matteo at 4-over for the day.
Hazleton Area had slight edges at the third and fourth score, but Paczewski and Finarelli put Dallas seven strokes better than the best two scores the Cougars could produce.
Kyle Langan shot 42-42—84 and Max Steinruck 45-45—90 to complete the winning Dallas team score.
Hazleton Area’s other team scores were: Jonathan Joseph 41-40—81, Jacob Palermo 40-43—83 and Jake Babinchak 42-46—88.
At the turn, Hazleton Area had a five-stroke edge, but Dallas had the advantage of having a fifth player (out of six) in range of producing a top-four score. Rhys Bonvie had also shot 45 on the front, matching Steinruck to that point, before settling for a 92.
Hazleton Area had three players shoot 40 on the back, but only two of them were in the four scores that counted.
Paczewski’s 36 and Finarelli’s 37 were the best back nines put up by any of the four teams and pull the Mountaineers into the lead.
Those scores were put up as rain became an increasing factor as the afternoon match spilled into the evening hours.
The last foursome of the day, the final two players from Lake-Lehman and Hanover Area, was unable to complete the round because of darkness, but the outcome was clearly determined by then.
Lake-Lehman’s Cael Ropietski matched two of the Class 3A players for second-best score of the day with a 36-39—75.
Hanover Area’s Kyleen McCance shot 37-41—78 to complete a standout season playing with the boys team, which she led to a second-place finish in the division.
Beginning Monday, she’ll be back to competing against girls in the individual play for the league qualifier to the district tournament.
Lake-Lehman had the day’s best team score with Michael Lugiano 38-42—80, Eli Ropietski 41-40—81 and Mike Sholtis 43-39—82 supporting Cael Ropietski.
Joe Maseychik did not get to finish his round after shooting 39 on the front.
The rest of Hanover Area’s team score came from Nick Schiel 44-39—83, Hayden Brunn 48-45—93 and Zach Murphy 43-53—96.
The Lackawanna League takes a different approach to determining its district finalist.
Scranton Prep, the defending state champion, is the top seed and prohibitive favorite in the eight-team Class 2A bracket, leading to the strong possibility of a battle of unbeatens with Lake-Lehman for the district championship.
Abington Heights and North Pocono are big favorites in the Lackawanna semifinals in Class 3A where the league has a four-team bracket. Abington Heights has two league match victories over North Pocono, but the Trojans finished ahead of the Comets in the Bob Simons Classic, so a close battle to determine Dallas’ opponent is likely.
MORE TEAM GOLF PLAYOFF COVERAGE
Full Lackawanna League golf playoff matchups can be found at: https://nepasportsnation.com/today-in-nepa-sports-nation-9-24/.