It finally arrived.
Yes, some teams got things going a bit earlier with some nonleague boys basketball games, but really the anxious start to the season officially hit Friday.
That’s when the majority of teams were in action and with a condensed schedule, the importance of games heightens.
Look, here is the reality of the situation. The coronavirus pandemic looms over the season like the giant spaceship hovering above Washington, DC in the movie Independence Day. Each game — before and after — there is a level of uncertainty that surrounds playing sports to completion. It’s inevitable. Teams, like Lakeland, which had to pause already, are going to be impacted by this virus. There are road blocks ahead, we are all sure of that. Be prepared. Calm reactions rather than panic are important. Maintaining the health and safety of the athletes and coaches is critical. And sometimes, if not all the time, the little nuisances that pop up have to simply be dealt with in the moment, so the season can move forward.
At some point, while COVID-19 will always be a part of the story, we have to focus back on the games. Players and coaches have to — to the best of their abilities — not forget that in addition to the many social lessons on how to deal with adversity the athletes are being taught have to also include the discipline and intensity they must play with to achieve success in competitions. Yes, this has been a strange preseason. Yes, the importance of these games in the bigger picture have naturally been tempered by the seriousness of the virus and the tribulations of life. But, ultimately, when the games tip, they are still taking score. There are going to be teams that win and teams that lose. Those who best balance practicing and executing at a high level with following the safety protocols are going to earn championships at season’s end, whenever that may be, if at all.
With all of that being said, now the focus also has to shift toward getting back to sports and covering the action on the courts, in the pools and on the mats, in a manner that they are supposed to serve as a distraction from the pressures of daily life.
So, let’s look where we are today as we head into the first full week of games in the Lackawanna League, shall we.
Well, in the preseason, coaches expected Division I to be the deepest and most competitive division in the league.
Scranton Prep, which has gotten off to an impressive 2-0 start, and Valley View, which opened with an overwhelming win over Western Wayne, were the picks to be the top two teams.
Scranton, with its four returning starters, also received strong consideration, along with Abington Heights and West Scranton.
Robert ROSSI | SCRANTON PREP
Rossi scored 19 points in a win over Wallenpaupack; Scored 19 points in a win over Dunmore
Look at Abington Heights. The three-time Division I champion and the program that has the highest league winning percentage since it went to a four-division format, came out firing in defense of its title.
Led by Harry Johnson, the Comets throttled Scranton and sent a message across the league to never underestimate a champion.
HS BASKETBALL: Comets rely on familiar formula to stymie Scranton in opener
SCRANTON — Seasons change, but Abington Heights’ formula for winning doesn’t.
With some new faces meshing with a core of veterans, the Comets, who are the three-time defending Division I champion, relied heavily on their traditional intense defensive play to allow time for the offense to kick into gear in a Lackawanna League boys basketball season opener.
Harry Johnson, a returning honorable mention all-star in Division I, dominated the lane with his physicality as the senior shrugged off a slow shooting start to finish with 16 points in a meticulous 45-27 win for seventh-ranked Abington Heights over No. 4 Scranton on Friday night.
VALLEY VIEW AT ABINGTON HEIGHTS
WHEN: MONDAY, 7:15 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Abington Heights — Jacob Anderson: Scored six points and had three assists in a win over Scranton.
Valley View — Zack Kovalchik: Scored 14 points in a win over Western Wayne.
2020: Abington Heights 40, Valley View 37
2020: Valley View 60, Abington Heights 33
2019: Abington Heights 66, Valley View 49
2019: Abington Heights 60, Valley View 53
2018: Abington Heights 57, Valley View 38
North Pocono is off and running.
A veteran team that had its season more than delayed when the school board moved to all virtual practices in December is not showing any signs that it had a huge impact.
The Trojans shot out with a win over highly ranked Riverside, then had wins over Dunmore and West Scranton.
Zach WALSH | NORTH POCONO
Walsh 7 points in win over No. 3 Riverside; Scored 16 points in win over Dunmore; Scored 18 points over No. 8 West Scranton.
LACKAWANNA LEAGUE NOTES
Holy Cross defeated Old Forge, 50-47, in overtime to open defense of its Division III championship. The Crusaders have won 10 straight games against Division III opponents.
Holy Cross 69, Dunmore 46
Holy Cross 51, Mid Valley 40
Holy Cross 71, Riverside 59
Holy Cross 56, Carbondale Area 22
Holy Cross 76, Lakeland 72
Holy Cross 40, Old Forge 27
Holy Cross 51, Susquehanna 39
Holy Cross 49, Dunmore 37
Holy Cross 50, Mid Valley 39
Mid Valley won its first two games and received valuable contributions from a pair of freshmen. Forward Ricky Vinansky scored 24 points in a win over Blue Ridge on Saturday, while Gabe Tanner scored 17 points in a win over Carbondale Area on Friday.
Lackwanna Trail head coach Ben Domiano earned his first career win. The Lions defeated defending Division IV champion Mountain View, 50-43, on opening night. Will Filan and Bill Edwards each scored six points in the fourth quarter. Filan had the hot hand from outside, hitting six 3s to account for all his 18 points. Edwards added 16 points in the low post. Ryan Henke led all scorers with 20 for Mountain View.
Blue Ridge’s Coleman McCain is a sharp-shooter. He had six 3-pointers in a win over Forest City on Friday, then came back with four more from beyond the arc in a loss to Mid Valley on Saturday.
SCRANTON’S KEVIN LAZDOWSKY
IN THE PAINT: Scranton’s Kevin Lazdowsky ready to take the next step
Kevin Lazdowsky has never shied away from the spotlight on the big stage.
As early as his sophomore season, the unflappable center of the Scranton boys basketball team showed moments never get too big for him. He started in the marquee District 2 Class 6A final that season. He became an impact player as a junior, and his postseason efforts allowed him to develop the leadership role this winter.
Lazdowsky is ready to lead the Knights back to a winning level.
LAST WEEK’S SCOREBOARD
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22
7-Abington Heights 45, 4-Scranton 27
Honesdale at Delaware Valley — PPD to Feb. 1
Dunmore at Lakeland — PPD to Feb. 3
9-Mid Valley 64, Carbondale Area 26
6-Holy Cross 50, Old Forge 47, OT
Blue Ridge 63, Forest City 55
Susquehanna at Montrose — PPD to Feb. 6
Lackawanna Trail 50, Mountain View 43
5-North Pocono 44, 8-West Scranton 38
1-Scranton Prep 72, Wallenpaupack 48
2-Valley View 62, 10-Western Wayne 16
3-Riverside 71, Elk Lake 52
SATURDAY, JANUARY 23
1-Scranton Prep 65, Dunmore 35
Wallenpaupack 47, Carbondale Area 43
Valley View at Lakeland — PPD
A LOOK AHEAD
MONDAY, JANUARY 25
Valley View at Abington Heights
Game moved in anticipation of inclement weather on Tuesday
Susquehanna at Forest City
Game moved in anticipation of inclement weather on Tuesday
TUESDAY, JANUARY 26
Wallenpaupack at Honesdale — PPD to FEB. 22
Mid Valley at Lakeland — PPD to FEB. 8
Holy Cross at Carbondale Area
Riverside at Old Forge
Triboro Rivalry game. Riverside has won six straight in the series with Old Forge’s last win coming on Jan. 5, 2013.
Montrose at Lackawanna Trail — PPD to FEB. 3
Elk Lake at Mountain View
Elk Lake is the preseason favorite and Mountain View is the defending division champion.
North Pocono at Scranton
Scranton Prep at Western Wayne
West Scranton at Delaware Valley
Blue Ridge at Dunmore
Joby Fawcett has covered high school sports — including football, girls and boys volleyball, girls and boys tennis, girls and boys swimming, boys basketball, girls and boys track and field, and girls and boys lacrosse — for 22 years. The High School Sports Blog offers deeper insights plus statistical and historical information for fans and features photos, videos and graphics along with Top 5 polls for tennis and volleyball. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5367; @sportsTT