H.S. Boys Basketball: Free throws with 3.2 seconds left give Hazleton Area win over WBA

Feb. 23—PLAINS TWP. — Hazleton Area's Luke Gennaro scored two points Thursday night.

They were the two biggest of the Cougars' season.

Gennaro hit two free throws with 3.2 seconds left as Hazleton Area rallied from a five-point deficit late in the game to defeat Wilkes-Barre Area 60-58 in the District 2/4 Class 6A boys basketball semifinals.

Hazleton Area (16-8) will plays Scranton (19-4) at 8 p.m. this coming Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena for the championship. Both teams secured PIAA state playoff bids with wins Thursday. Wilkes-Barre Area finished 19-6, with two losses coming on their home court to Hazleton Area.

Gennaro shot 61.7% from the foul line during the regular season and kept his normal approach of singing "Ride Wit Me" by Nelly at the line. He was fouled going up for a defensive rebound despite giving up size at 5-foot-9.

"Just routine. Got to stick with the routine," said Gennaro, a senior point guard. "I didn't score points all game. That's fine because I'm getting my teammates open. I saw Dylan Stish. He was hitting a ton of shots. I'm going to keep finding that kid because he's my shooter."

Stish, one of the Wyoming Valley Conference's top freshmen this season, nailed his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 58 seconds remaining. Before that, he hit two free throws at 1:16 to start a 5-0 run to close out the game.

Evan Laybourn-Boddie turned in another outstanding performance for WBA. The West Scranton transfer injured his right ankle at 5:26 of the first quarter. The WVC Division 1 scoring champion sat for two minutes, a span where the Wolfpack were outscored 8-0. He returned, scored the 1,000th point of his career, tweaked the ankle again in the third quarter and helped WBA take a 55-49 lead midway through the fourth.

"Man wasn't working and then we went back to 13 (1-3-1 zone)," Hazleton Area coach Pat Brogan said. "We were pressuring the basketball, they made a couple miscues and we took advantage of miscues. We kind of got every rebound down the stretch, too. The biggest rebound was Luke."

Hazleton Area was without big man Luis Guzman, the team's top rebounder who was injured in the regular-season finale at Dallas. Joe Marshall and Sam Guzman made up for his absence by combining for 20 boards. Marshall also worked inside for 16 points.

Luis Guzman is expected to be back for the title game.

"We went on that little stretch where we were up six, seven," WBA coach Jim Lavan said. "Then just a couple turnovers here and there, mental mistakes. They hit some shots. Stish didn't play like no freshman tonight."

District 2/4 Class 6A semifinals

Hazleton Area 60, Wilkes-Barre Area 58

HAZLETON AREA (60) — Gennaro 0 2-2 2, Santiago 3 0-0 6, Stish 9 6-6 28, S.Guzman 2 1-2 5, Marshall 7 2-5 16, Saladin 1 1-2 3, Diaz 0 0-0 0, Reimold 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 12-17 60.

WILKES-BARRE AREA (58) — Cottle 2 0-2 5, Jannuzzi 4 2-2 10, Laybourn-Boddie 9 4-7 27, Argueto 3 0-0 8, Garrett 0 0-0 0, Egbeto 2 0-2 4, Keating 0 0-0 0, Brown 2 0-0 4. Totals 22 6-13 58.

Hazleton Area'19'17'9'15 — 60

Wilkes-Barre Area'13'17'15'13 — 58

Three-point goals — HAZ 4 (Stish 4); WBA 8 (Laybourn-Boddie 5, Argueto 2, Cottle)