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JB Hoops players made impact on boys championships

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Leo O’Boyle turned in the most dominant of the many impressive performances District 2’s top basketball players produced under the bright lights of Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza during the third year of championship games at the facility.

O’Boyle scored 32 points, including 18 in a second-half comeback that lifted Scranton Prep to a 54-46 victory in the Class 4A boys championship game Saturday afternoon.

The 6-foot-8 junior center, who plays for JB Hoops in the spring and summer, helped Scranton Prep avenge a home-court loss to Valley View in league play.

“They got us once at our place,” O’Boyle said, “so I knew I had to come and play my hardest for my team and my coaches so we could win this game.

O’Boyle went 10-for-17 from the floor, 2-for-3 on 3-pointers and 10-for-13 from the foul line. He also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots.

All six teams that won boys titles between Thursday and Sunday at the arena got significant contributions from JB Hoops players.

None had more than the Cavaliers.

Four of the five Scranton Prep starters and seven of the nine players who appeared in the district championship game played the 2018 AAU season on JB Hoops teams.

Brian Boland, Wes Simons and Greyson Schermerhorn were the other starters.

Boland scored all seven of his points in the second half and finished with a game-high five assists.

Simons scored six points and matched O’Boyle for the team lead with eight rebounds, helping the Cavaliers to a 35-22 dominance on the boards. Coach Andrew Kettel insisted his team get the senior center more involved in the second half after falling behind, 22-17, at halftime. Simons scored all of his points and grabbed five of his rebounds in the second half.

Schermerhorn hit a 3-pointer to cap a 14-0 run in which Scranton Prep turned a five-point deficit into a nine-point lead in the third quarter. O’Boyle had eight straight points within that streak after Simons scored the first three.

Rhys Merritt and Mario Rotell came off the Scranton Prep bench.

Merritt scored five points and grabbed two offensive rebounds. Rotell was the only Cavaliers player with two steals and also grabbed four rebounds.

Like Scranton Prep, Hazleton Area, Abington Heights, Wyoming Seminary and Holy Cross each won titles as top seeds with help from multiple players from JB Hoops.

MMI Prep pulled off the weekend’s only boys upset with a boost from Phillip Byriel’s return from a broken wrist.

Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph was happy to see four-year varsity players – and JB Hoops program graduates – Jeff Planutis, Joey Grula and Josh Samec land their first District 2-4 Subregional title and first state tournament berths of their high school careers with a 61-51 victory over Scranton in the Class 6A game that wrapped up Saturday night’s schedule.

“All day, I was just so consumed with wanting these guys to get to this point,” Joseph said of the trio that has led the Cougars to an 83-15 record in the past four seasons. “This group of guys, if they had gone four years without getting their gold medal, it would have been a disservice because of how much they’ve meant to this program.”

Hazleton Area is 24-1 and ranked fifth in the state in Class 6A, according to

Planutis led the latest win with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Grula scored 13 points. Samec had 10 points, including two free throws in the final minute after Scranton had cut a 22-point, fourth-quarter deficit all the way to six.

Grula had seven points and Samec hit his second 3-pointer in an early 10-point streak to give Hazleton Area a 15-4 lead with 1:45 left in the first quarter.

Abington Heights won its seventh straight district title with four JB Hoops players in the starting lineup.

George Tinsley led the Comets to a 61-36 victory over Dallas in the last of the championship games, Sunday night’s 5A final.

Tinsley had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, all team-high figures. He got a big boost from Jack Nealon, who finished with 19 points, 4 assists and 4 steals.

Nealon went 4-for-7 on 3-pointers, 5-for-8 overall from the floor and 5-for-5 from the line.

Jackson Danzig had two momentum-building dunks while adding nine points, five rebounds and four assists.

Corey Perkins led the defense with five steals and also scored four points.

Dimitri Gnall, Jeremy Callahan and Tyler Maddock helped Wyoming Seminary to a 56-39 victory over Holy Redeemer in Thursday’s Class 3A final.

Gnall scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Callahan scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

Maddock is the senior captain of an otherwise young team that brought Wyoming Seminary its first district championship since 1986.

“It feels awesome,” said Maddock, who contributed seven assists, including five in the second half when the Blue Knights were shooting 56.7 percent from the floor to break open a one-point game, and scored two points. “All the hard work over the past four years was to end here. There’s no better way to cap it.”

Ethan Meuser, who played on the JB Hoops eighth-grade team last year, was the first player off the bench for the Blue Knights. He scored two points, made a steal and blocked a shot.

Andrew Maddock, another player from that eighth-grade team, also got in for Wyoming Seminary.

Kieran Burrier, who played on last year’s JB Hoops ninth-grade team, led Holy Cross with six assists in a 55-39 Class 2A victory over Northwest Saturday. Burrier also had nine points and six rebounds.

Caleb Callejas was first off the bench for the Crusaders and grabbed three rebounds. He started earlier in the season for the Lackawanna League Division 3 champions and has made his way back from injury.

Byriel played for just the second time in two months and helped MMI Prep knock off a Susquehanna team that had already won the District 2-11 Subregional to qualify for the state Class A playoffs.

The 6-8 sophomore, who was a JB Hoops ninth-grade team player last year, led the Preppers in rebounds (eight), assists (four) and blocked shots (four) during the 38-22 win. He also scored six points.

Byriel helped MMI hold Susquehanna to 24 percent shooting.

“He just did a good job, as did our whole team, of challenging their shooters,” MMI coach Joe Flanagan said.


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