NEPA Sports Nation

District 2-4 Class 6A Subregional girls basketball playoff analysis

By Tom Robinson,

FORMAT: The five-team subregional includes District 2’s four Class 6A schools and Williamsport, District 4’s only school in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s largest enrollment classification. There is one game needed to trim the field to four semifinalists. The quarterfinals and semifinals are played on the home court of the higher seed, then the final moves to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Only the champion advances to the PIAA state tournament.

2022 RECAP: All four games of the tournament went according to seeds with Wilkes-Barre Area successfully holding seed and defending its title with a 45-24 victory over Hazleton Area.

HIGHEST SEEDS: 1, Hazleton Area; 2, Wilkes-Barre Area.

REGULAR-SEASON CHAMPIONS: None. Hazleton Area made the Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament on a second-place tiebreaker over Wyoming Valley West, but lost to eventual champion Lake-Lehman, 61-43, in the semifinals.

RANKED TEAMS: Hazleton Area is the No. 6 Big School girls team in the Riverfront Sports Super Six Basketball Power Rankings of District 2 teams. Wilkes-Barre Area and Wyoming Valley West were ranked at times earlier in the season.

WINNING RECORDS: Wilkes-Barre Area 16-6, Hazleton Area 16-7, Wyoming Valley West 14-8.

BEST OPENER: This category does not get much easier to select. Wilkes-Barre Area will host Wyoming Valley West in a semifinal in the third meeting between the two teams. The 64 minutes of regulation in the first two meetings left the teams separated by one point – combined. Wilkes-Barre Area swept the seasons series in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 play but did so by one point in regulation and by two points in overtime. In addition, both teams are trying to get back to their earlier levels of play. Wilkes-Barre Area enters the postseason on a four-game losing streak while Wyoming Valley West has lost two straight and five of its last seven.

KEY GAME: See above.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sophia Shults and Brianna Kennedy from Hazleton Area; Shelby Ardo-Boyko, Diamond Thornton and Eternity Aiken from Wilkes-Barre Area; Mackenzie Perluke and Thalia Irizzary, Wyoming Valley West; Alexandria Chilson, Williamsport.

NOTEWORTHY: Wilkes-Barre Area also defeated Hazleton Area in the 2021 final, 47-33. … Wilkes-Barre Area has a losing record since winning its first 11. The Wolfpack went 5-6 in the second half of the season despite again stringing five wins together. … Wyoming Valley West moved up from Class 5A to Class 6A for this two-year cycle at the same time it had a strong team that could contend. The Lady Spartans swapped places with Scranton, which dropped from 6A to play in 5A for the first time. … Hazleton Area remained a contender even after losing Lacie Kringe, its leader in nearly every statistical category last season and early this season, to a knee injury just as the WVC race was about to get interesting. Kringe was a preseason commit to a partial basketball scholarship to play on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II level at East Stroudsburg University. … Williamsport is 0-5 against District 2 teams this season, falling 50-30 to Hazleton Area at home and losing to four smaller schools.

QUOTABLE: Wilkes-Barre Area coach Mary Mushock-Namey, discussing all-star forward Shelby Ardo-Boyko in December: “She’s a fantastic athlete, who knows how to get after it. … She’s not always in the boxscore, but she does all the little things right.”

Wyoming Valley West coach Gary Ferenchick during the preseason: “This is our deepest team since the 2017 team, which won two games in the state playoffs.”

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