NEPA Sports Nation

Holy Cross pulls away from Muncy

Holy Cross coach Al Callejas. (Tim Drewes Photo)

HAZLETON – Gabe Gonzales led a balanced attack with 14 points and Holy Cross pulled away from Muncy in the second half Wednesday night to advance to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 2A boys basketball quarterfinals with a 66-38 romp at Hazleton Area High School.

The Crusaders used their ninth straight victory – and fourth straight comfortable playoff win – to move into a Saturday noon game against the state’s top-ranked Class 2A team. No. 5 Holy Cross will face District 1 champion Christopher Dock from Lansdale (25-2) at East Stroudsburg South High School.

Holy Cross (21-5) has held 5 straight opponents to fewer than 40 points and has won its 4 playoff games by a total of 105 points.

Muncy was within 4 points until the halftime buzzer, but Holy Cross put together streaks of 10 and 13 straight points in the second half.

“We really picked it up defensively and that led to a lot of transition points,” Hayden Hosie said. “We got a lot of easy baskets from that.”

Logan Tierney and Matt Lyons added 12 points each as Holy Cross dominated on the inside. Michael Hughes added nine points and Hosie had seven while setting up his teammates.

“Coaches don’t really ask much of me except to attack the boards, go hard and play really good defense,” Tierney said. “I’m going to do whatever they ask of me because I really want to go far and I knew they want to go far.”

Muncy hung with Holy Cross until it switched from a zone defense to man-to-man in the third quarter as the Crusaders were beginning to pull away. From there, Holy Cross blew the game open with a series of easy baskets.

“Going into every game, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win,” Hosie said. “Sometimes, it means me scoring a lot of points; other times it’s playing defense and distributing the ball.”

Wednesday, it was breaking down the Muncy defense and helping to spread the scoring around.

“Passing comes naturally to me, but one thing I take pride in working on is my handle,” Hosie said. “Being able to get by guys and have the help step up, that creates openings for other players.”

It took a while for the Crusaders to open up their lead.

Michael Fry, who matched Ross Eyer for the team lead of 10 points, gave Muncy two of its three first-quarter leads. He hit 3-pointers to open the scoring and for the last lead at 10-9.

Tierney went coast-to-coast to put Holy Cross ahead to stay, 11-10.

Hughes added a basket to end the first quarter and Gonzales drive for a score and a 15-10 lead 18 seconds into the second quarter.

Gonzales had five baskets in the second quarter, all from close range, including two more in the first 1:31 to make it 19-12.

The Indians closed to within 24-20 on a basket with six seconds left in the second, but the Crusaders beat them back up the floor for a Gonzales basket before the halftime buzzer.

Holy Cross turned to defense in the third quarter, holding Muncy to four points.

Lyons, Tierney and Hosie scored four points each in the quarter. The lead reached double figures for the first time when Gonzales made a steal and fed Tierney for a 36-26 advantage with 3:40 left in the third quarter.

The Crusaders were just getting started.

Hosie scored the last four points of the quarter and Tierney hit two free throws to start the fourth, completing a 10-0 run to a 46-28 lead.

Lyons had 6 points and the Crusaders needed just 2:34 to rattle off 13 straight midway through the fourth, expanding the lead to 61-32.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was created from the reporting of Paul Gerrity.

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