NEPA Sports Nation

Valley View ends title drought

Pictured above: A.J. Kucharski

By Tom Robinson,

SCRANTON – Eli Yusavage and A.J. Kucharski teamed up to lead Valley View scoring bursts to begin and end the second half.

The Cougars defense ruled the entire second half.

Yusavage finished with 19 points and Kucharski added 14 Friday night as Valley View broke through for its first Lackawanna League boys basketball title since 2004 by pulling away for a 50-36 victory over Abington Heights in a playoff for the Division 1 championship.

“It feels amazing,” said Kucharski, who went 5-for-5 from the floor in the second half after struggling offensively in the first half.

The game was the second of a doubleheader at Scranton High, following up Wallenpaupack’s 52-41 win over North Pocono for the Division 2 girls title.

The first half featured six lead changes and ended with Valley View clinging to a one-point lead.

When Kucharski scored the first two baskets of the second half and Yusavage followed with a tough finish off a Taheed Jewell assist in transition, the Cougars shot out to a 26-19 lead with 6:15 left in the third quarter.

“When we came in at halftime, we really emphasized  that the first four minutes were a real key,” Yusavage said. “We needed to win those first four minutes and we did.

“We really executed.”

With Abington Heights causing difficulties with its full-court pressure and Valley View’s man-to-man defense in the halfcourt taking away ever Comets option, the Cougars remained in front the entire second half. The lead hovered between three and seven for the next 12-plus minutes.

The Comets repeatedly created opportunities with nine steals and two other forced turnovers in the second half, but the Cougars consistently turned them away.

Kucharski’s three-point play with 2:59 left and Yusavage’s 3-pointer 27 second later started a game-ending, 15-4 run.

Yusavage had seven points in the last three minutes, Kucharski had five and then Jewell tacked on the last three points.

The shooting numbers were staggering.

While Valley View was hitting 68.9 percent (11-for-16) in the second half, it held Abington Heights to 14.3 (4-for-28).

The Cougars defense, which has now held the Comets to their two lowest-scoring outputs of the season, never wavered.

Abington Heights finished at 21.6 percent (11-for-51), including 9.5 percent (2-for-21) on 3-pointers. Only the five starters shot and none of them hit better than 27.3 percent (3-for-11).

Kyle Rupp grabbed 14 rebounds for Valley View (19-3), including 10 in the first half before landing in foul trouble.

Jewell had nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

Abington Heights (19-4) was led by Mason Fedor with nine points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals.

The other four starters each finished with six or seven points.

Abington Heights led by four during the first quarter and was up 16-13 midway though the second quarter before Valley View went on a 7-1 run to take the lead for good.

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