NEPA Sports Nation

Semenza reaches career milestone

Anthony Cencetti scored 20 points and Jack Long added 18 Tuesday night as Pittston Area defeated host Wilkes-Barre Area, 54-39, and earned head coach Al Semenza his 500th career victory.

The win also allowed the Patriots to hold on to sole possession of first place in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 where the Wolfpack was one of four teams within a game of the lead entering the night.

Pittston Area had to work from behind early, but finished up with a strong second-half defensive performance.

Wilkes-Barre Area opened the game with consecutive 3-pointers for a 6-0 lead and was up, 11-7, after one quarter.

Long had eight points in the second quarter when the Patriots forced a 24-24 tie. Long and Cencetti scored six points each in the third quarter as the Patriots took a 40-35 lead.

Cencetti scored nine points in the fourth quarter when he went 7-for-8 from the line.

The Patriots held the Wolfpack to four points in the fourth quarter.

David Jannuzzi, who scored 7 points in the third quarter, and Brandon Benjamin, who had the team’s only fourth-quarter points, scored 10 points each for Wilkes-Barre Area.

Jannuzzi, Channing Brown and Vincent Garrett all had 3-pointers in the first period to get the Wolfpack out to the lead.

Just as he did in his career as a whole, Semenza led the Patriots out of their early struggles.

Semenza’s coaching debut came at Old Forge in 1980-81. His first four teams won 2, 6, 13 then 17 games.

A year later, the Blue Devils on a District 2 title and two state tournament games, a feat they also repeated in 1991-92. After going 22-7 in the second district championship season, Semenza left Old Forge with a 125-162 record in 12 seasons.

Wyoming Area went 25-24 in two seasons under Semenza, winning its first-ever Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state playoff game in 1994 and one of just three the school has ever produced.

Semenza returned to Old Forge in time for the 1995-96 season and again built the Blue Devils up, going from a single win to 5, then 14 in the first three seasons.

In the second stint at Old Forge, Semenza went 263-210 in 18 seasons. His teams won three Lackawanna League division titles in four seasons from 2003 through 2007. The 2006-07 team went 28-1 and reached the state quarterfinal. That team won the first of six district championships in seven years.

Semenza then revived the program at Western Wayne, going 31-39 and taking the Wildcats to the state tournament in 2019, its first appearance in 26 years.

Western Wayne was 8-126 in six seasons before Semenza arrived. His first team broke a 60-game Lackawanna League losing streak and won seven games. The next two teams posted 10 and 14 wins.

Semenza is 56-28 in three-plus seasons at Pittston Area. In the last three seasons, he led the Patriots to their first two state tournament wins in school history., which is now part of, named Semenza a divisional coach of the year three state times, culminating in him also being selected as the District 2 Coach of the Year in 2019-20.

Semenza’s career record now stands at 500-463 in 39 seasons.

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