First Posted: 2/29/2012
SCRANTON- The Lakeland Chiefs boys’ basketball team had not won a district playoff game since 1984.
This year’s squad was aware of the school’s long drought and determined to end it.
Led by pressure defense and balanced scoring, Lakeland defeated Hanover Area, 72-58, in a District 2 Class AA first-round game Feb. 25 at the Lackawanna College Student Union.
“The guys knew the situation we were in, (Lakeland) had not been in the district playoffs since 1984,” Lakeland head coach Dave Rosenkrans said. “I’m happy for them. We didn’t play our best basketball today and still pulled out a win. The kids have worked hard all year. It’s nice to see that their hard work is paying off.”
The Chiefs created seven steals and outscored the Hawkeyes 15-3 in the last four minutes of the first quarter to take a commanding 22-9 lead.
Hanover Area answered with a run of its own in the second quarter, with an 8-1 spurt to end the first half, making the score 35-31. Hawkeyes’ point guard Jeorge Colon scored 10 of his 15 points during the quarter to lead the rally.
“We’ve been trying to reiterate all season to the kids: even though you get up, you have to stay up,” Rosenkrans said. “We went back into a lackadaisical type of defense and they clawed their way back in the game.”
After Hanover Area (9-14) cut Lakeland’s lead to 44-43 with 2:21 left in the third quarter, Alex Filarsky and Eric Grabowski nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Chiefs back up by 7. Grabowski scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the quarter. The junior also contributed eight assists and three steals.
Filarsky finished the game with 14 points, including four 3-pointers and four steals.
“I just started hitting 3’s,” Filarsky said. “That’s my place on this team.”
The Hawkeyes took a one-point lead on a Shaquille Rolle 3-pointer with 6:48 left in the fourth quarter. Just 11 seconds later, Grabowski answered with a 3-pointer on a fast break.
“We had a huge lead, but they came back on us,” Grabowski said. “We just wanted to stay a safe distance ahead of them. I was hoping for that shot in transition and got it to go.”
From that point on, Lakeland outscored Hanover Area 15-3 to seal the victory.
Lakeland’s Kyle Kiehart scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs made eight of their 11 free throws in the quarter.
Lakeland (18-8) will play Meyers (21-2) tonight at 7:45 p.m. in a District 2 Class AA semifinal at Pittston Area High School.