SCRANTON — Scranton Prep used defensive pressure from the outset of the game to control the pace and generate easy points.
The Cavaliers forced nine of West Scranton’s 29 turnovers, including two five-second violations on inbound plays, in the first quarter when Prep jumped out to a 19-10 lead.
Top seed Scranton Prep (23-2) continued the momentum throughout and game and defeated the fifth-seeded Invaders, 60-38, in a District 2 Class 3A semifinal boys basketball game at Lackawanna College on Monday night.
The Cavaliers will play sixth-seeded Berwick (16-9) for the district championship at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre. Both teams will advance to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) playoffs.
Logan Bailey, who led the Cavs with 17 points, scored nine in the first quarter to spark the team’s early success.
“We wanted to push the ball up the floor and it wasn’t really working off the defensive rebounds so we had to do it some other way,” Bailey said. “The defensive pressure was really working for us.”
Sophomore Wes Simons gave Prep a boost off the bench in the second quarter, scoring four of his 12 points and grabbing four rebounds, when the Cavaliers increased their lead to 14 points at the half.
“I just tried to get inside position and go up strong with my shots,” Simons said. “I was able to get it going (offensively).”
A 7-2 run early in the third quarter, sparked by a 3-point play from center Joe Rossi, helped the Cavaliers build a 19-point lead.
Paddy Casey added 14 points, including six in the third, to go along with four assists and four steals for Prep.
“It’s really been working for us,” Bailey said of the team’s balanced scoring. “Everyone has been touching the ball and we’ve all been playing pretty good.”
Scranton Prep continued to create havoc of the defensive end right up into the final whistle, forcing the Invaders into seven turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“We want a fast tempo and a high rate of possessions, and we knew they didn’t want to play that way,” Scranton Prep head coach Andrew Kettel said.
West Scranton (16-9) trailed by double digits throughout the majority of the game, forcing the Invaders to change their mode of attack.
“Once again, we fell behind (early) so there goes the gameplan,” West Scranton head coach Jack Lyons said. “We were trying to eat the clock up and make it a shorter game, but they are just such a talented high school team. We missed a lot of easy shots, but I thought we did some great things and played our hearts out.”
Scranton Prep has won its first three district playoff games by a combined 143 points and the Cavaliers have won 17 consecutive contests.
“They have high goals and the competition at practice is very competitive,” Kettel said of his players. “We have great kids in the classes behind them and great guys on our bench who are juniors and seniors.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.