SUNDAY DISPTACH BY TOM ROBINSON
YATESVILLE – Wyoming Area entered the week in desperate search of a win – any win.
By the time they finished, the Warriors were fighting into overtime trying to pull off the victory they would enjoy most.
Tyler McGarry’s scoring got Pittston Area into overtime where Michael Delaney produced a series of clutch plays to carry the Patriots past the upset-minded Warriors, 71-63, in the 10th annual Eugene R. DeMinico II Memorial Game Friday night.
“They’re tough,” Delaney said of the Warriors, who were winless last season. “They really turned it around from last year.”
Two nights after ending their 32-game losing streak and getting their first win under new coach Pete Moses, the Warriors moved into position to make it a winning streak. They rallied to take their only lead on Anthony Saitta’s drive down the lane with 31 seconds remaining.
Wyoming Area still held that 58-56 margin when Pittston Area called timeout with 6.9 seconds left, needing to go the length of the floor.
McGarry took it from there.
The senior was 18 free throws into a perfect 22-for-22 night from the line, but had struggled to go 1-for-17 from the floor to that point against a Wyoming Area defense designed to stop him.
McGarry got the ball nearly 80 feet from the basket on the right side and worked around defenders, picking up momentum until he moved through the lane on the other end to score about a second before the buzzer.
“I knew I could get to the basket,” said McGarry, who received his team’s Most Valuable Player award following the game. “Mike (Delaney) gave me a good pass, Joe (Delucca) set a good screen and I was able to get a good look.”
Delaney scored four points and set up five more in overtime when the Pittston Area defense came up with four of its five blocked shots.
The senior guard moved through the lane for the first points of overtime and hit two free throws for the last by the Patriots, giving them a 71-61 lead with 37.1 seconds left.
Delaney also dove on the floor to make the steal that set up Alex McAndrew’s free throws to put Pittston Area ahead to stay. He ran the delay game that took more than a minute of the clock in the middle of overtime, ending the possession by slipping a pass to Delucca for the game-breaking, three-point play and a 65-60 lead with 1:28 left.
“We just had to settle down and go slower,” Delaney said of Pittston Area’s recovery early in overtime.
After Delucca’s three-point play, Jordan Black got out to the three-point line to make his second and the team’s fourth block of overtime.
McGarry pushed the streak to nine straight points by hitting the last four free throws o his perfect night.
Already hitting free throws at a 76.9 percent rate that most high school players – and more than a few in the NBA – would envy, McGarry spent extra time Thursday and after school Friday working on his shooting touch.
It paid off when the Patriots needed him to make every one of those attempts in regultion to avoid an upset.
“I just wasn’t getting my legs into it the last couple of days, I was shooting with all arms,” said McGarry, who is now 42-for-48 (87.5 percent) from the line. “Using my legs definitely helped.”
After two losses this week in which McGarry was the only player to score more than five points, the Patriots also found help for their leading scorer.
McGarry led the way with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Delaney added 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Black had 12 points.
Bernie Kurtinitis had seven rebounds in the first seven minutes and finished with 14 before fouling out. He helped the Patriots to a 53-34 rebounding lead on a night when Kurtinitis, Delaney and McGarry each had at least a half dozen offensive rebounds and the Patriots got back 22 of their first 30 misses.
Jeremy Zezza sat out nine minutes of the second and third quarter with three fouls but still led Wyoming Area with 24 points to earn its MVP award. Saitta came off the bench to provide 14 points while Evan Musto scored 12. Dante DeLuca had a team-high eight rebounds.
“We never quit,” Moses said. “With our high scorer in foul trouble and with him on the bench for most of the second and third quarters, we continued to fight.”
The Warriors first had to fight back from Black scoring five straight points in the middle of a nine-point streak by the Patriots for a 16-5 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter.
Zezza hit 3-pointers to start and end a streak of eight points in one minute that allowed Wyoming Area to make it 22-22 for the first tie since, 2-2.
The Warriors spent most of the next 20 minutes trying to get over the hump.
Wyoming Area twice appeared to have taken the lead only to have baskets waved off. Zezza was ruled to have gone over the back of a Patriot for what first seemed to be a putback, but instead became his third foul. Evan Musto came back with a possible three-point play for the lead, only to have the foul shot wiped out by a teammate’s lane violation.
The Warriors forced four more ties, but went 0-for-5 when shooting foul shots that would have put them in front.
Zezza had 10 points in the fourth quarter and Saitta nine in the fourth quarter when Wyoming Area came from 10 down to take its only lead.
Wyoming Area 65, Mountain View 60
Jeremy Zezza scored 28 points and Wyoming Area used its own clutch foul shooting to post its first win since the 2012-13 season when it defeated visiting Mountain View, 65-60, Wednesday.
Zezza had 21 points in the middle quarters when the Warriors went from a 14-10 deficitto a 43-40 lead.
The Warriors then shot 10-for-11 from the line in the fourth quarter with Zezza going 3-for-4, Zachary Gibbons 3-for-3 and Anthony Saitta and Nick Gushka 2-for-2.
Musto finished with 15 points, including 11 in the first half. Gibbons had all 11 of his in the second half, including seven in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve gotten better and better every game,” Wyoming Area coach Pete Moses said. “I’m so proud of these boys. We’re playing as a team.
“We’re starting to get two or three guys involved in the offense. We want to keep getting more guys involved, but I’ve seen this team make dramatic improvements.”