Feb. 11—The Wyoming Area gymnasium has numerous banners honoring athletic achievements on the team and individual levels.
One is noticeable barren — boys basketball. Except for a Wyoming Valley Conference title in 1971, the banner is empty.
"We'd like to put 2024 up there," Wyoming Area senior Brady Noone said.
In order to do so, Wyoming Area will need to defeat a program that knows about championships — Holy Redeemer. The two teams will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Wilkes-Barre Area High School to break a tie for the WVC Division 2 title.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and will be available at the door. Only cash will be accepted. No passes will be accepted except for the PIAA Gold Pass. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Wyoming Area and Redeemer each finished 11-1 in Division 2. Wyoming Area is 16-6 overall while Redeemer is 15-7.
Despite winning the last two Division 2 and District 2 Class 3A championships — along with other titles since its inception in 2007 — Redeemer entered the season with less fanfare than Wyoming Area. The Royals graduated their entire starting lineup and with the exception of Mark Atherton and George Sabatini varsity experience was scarce.
Meanwhile, Wyoming Area returned an experienced group headed by Times Leader All-WVC selection Dane Schutter. That had coaches at the preseason media gathering putting the Warriors into the contender category.
Such praise had been heaped on other teams in the past by the coaches and some of those teams never lived up to expectations.
"That's been something we've been saying all along," Wyoming Area coach Anthony Macario said. "We certainly had talented players, but talking about it and going out and doing it are two totally different things. I'm proud of our guys. They've earned it, they've worked their butts off.
"Now we get a chance to go up against the cream of the crop in Redeemer and hopefully win a league title."
The teams split their regular-season games.
Wyoming Area won 74-68 in triple overtime at Redeemer on Jan. 9. Schutter, who scored his 1,000th point a game earlier, finished with 20 points. Tyler Sciandra also had 20 and helped control the boards despite being outsized at 6-foot. Anthony DeLucca had 13 as did freshman Luke Kopetchny, who added a spark off the bench.
Redeemer won the rematch at Wyoming Area 59-46 on Jan. 30, outscoring the Warriors 22-11 in the fourth quarter. The big men had strong games as Sabatini scored 23 and grabbed 11 rebounds. David Popson added 12 points. The Warriors also shot poorly on their home court. Kopetchny missed the game after an injury in the junior varsity game, but returned Saturday against Hanover Area.
Monday's outcome will have no impact on the District 2 power rankings, which determine seedings for the district tournaments. The power rankings are based solely on regular-season games.
Wyoming Area will probably be the third seed in the D2-4A playoffs. Redeemer will likely be the second seed in the D2-3A playoffs. The Lackawanna League still has several games to play that might affect those seedings, but it appears highly improbable they will.
WVC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
The WVC semifinals will be held on Thursday at Wilkes-Barre Area High School.
The Wyoming Area/Redeemer winner will play the Division 1 runner-up — either Dallas or Hazleton Area — at 6 p.m. Dallas completes its regular season Monday against Wyoming Valley West.
A Dallas victory would tie Hazleton Area for second place. Since the teams split their two games, the next tiebreaker would be power rankings and the Mountaineers lead Hazleton Area by 0.0158.
A Dallas loss to Valley West would give Hazleton Area the spot.
At 7:30 p.m., Division 1 champion Wilkes-Barre Area will play the Wyoming Area/Redeemer loser.