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H.S. Boys Basketball: Holy Redeemer closes strong to beat Nanticoke Area

Feb. 9—WILKES-BARRE — When Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke Area met for the first time this year back in January, the Royals had a comfortable fourth-quarter lead almost slip away completely, hanging on for a one-point victory.

On Thursday night, there was no such cause for concern for the Royals.

Redeemer opened the final quarter with a knockout, beating Nanticoke 55-44 to close out the regular season with an 11-1 mark in Division 2.

"I thought those were clutch minutes for our guys," said Holy Redeemer coach Paul Guido, whose team went on a 16-4 run in the decisive stretch. "I'm super proud of them for the effort and the execution we were able to produce in that fourth quarter."

The Redeemer duo of George Sabatini and David Popson, both big men who could play both inside and outside, led the way for the Royals. Popson topped the team with 20 and Sabatini had 16.

The two combined for 16 of Redeemer's 19 fourth-quarter points, ensuring that the Trojans would have no path back into the ballgame.

"It took a lot of courage for some of our guys to step up," Popson said. "We just had to pull up our pants, play good defense and start putting the ball in the basket."

The Royals ran out ahead to start the game with a run equally as impressive as the one they had in the fourth, taking a 14-0 lead before Nanticoke Area could score its first points.

It was Liam Mullery who finally broke the drought for the Trojans, knocking down a three-pointer with 41 seconds remaining in the first.

That bucket proved to be something of a spark for Nanticoke Area, and certainly for Mullery. He would knock down three more three-pointers in the second quarter, almost single-handedly rallying Nanticoke back into the game, only trailing by six at the half.

Mullery and Jaidyn Johnson combined for 36 Nanticoke Area points, but the Royals did a good job taking away the rest of the Trojans' scoring options, making it harder for them to mount a comeback.

"That's something we talked about, Jaidyn's going to try and get his and certainly Liam's going to get his, as well," Guido said. "We wanted to pressure those other guys on their team, and when they didn't have the ball, help off of them to make it tougher for Jaidyn and Liam."

Even with the limited distribution, Nanticoke Area did manage to cut the Redeemer lead down to just a single point in the third quarter, but Redeemer dug in and held onto the lead heading into the fourth. The Royals led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter before settling for an 11-point win.

The final eight minutes didn't feature a comeback like the last meeting, but there were some fireworks all the same. A flagrant foul assessed to Mullery led to some heated back-and-forth between Guido and Nanticoke Area head coach Zach Pientka.

After all was cleared, Guido was hit with a technical foul.

"I was just speaking out loud, saying ... they thought I was talking to some of their players," Guido said. "Liam Mullery started his career here, I have nothing but respect and love for Liam."

Mullery led Nanticoke with 20 points. Johnson added 16 for the Trojans, who finish the regular season with a 7-5 mark in Division 2.

With the win, Holy Redeemer has locked into at least a tie at the top of Division 2, with Wyoming Area a half-game behind at 10-1. The Warriors will wrap their regular season on Saturday at Hanover Area, and if they win, it'll set up a playoff game between Redeemer and Wyoming Area — who split their two games — for the division title.

Holy Redeemer 55, Nanticoke Area 44

NANTICOKE AREA (44) — Johnson 5 4-5 16, Turak 0 1-2 1, Spencer 2 1-2 5, Li. Mullery 5 5-8 20, Brogan 0 0-0 0, Michel 1 0-0 2, Stachowiak 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 11-17 44.

HOLY REDEEMER (55) — Atherton 3 0-1 8, Sabatini 5 5-8 16, Casey 1 0-0 3, Ohrin 1 0-0 3, Dubaskas 0 0-0 0, Coates 1 0-0 2, Quaglia 1 0-0 3, Popson 9 2-3 20, Hurst 0 0-0 0, Sock 0 0-2 0. Totals 21 7-14 55.

Nanticoke Area'3'15'12'14 — 44

Holy Redeemer'14'10'12'19 — 55

Three-point goals — NAN 7 (Li. Mullery 5, Johnson 2); HR 6 (Atherton 2, Sabatini, Casey, Ohrin, Quaglia).