Rangers Run Away From Blue Devils
LEHMAN TWP. — With underdog Old Forge hanging around all half, Bryce Koser’s basket before the buzzer sent Northwest into halftime energized and with its largest lead of the game.
Three of Northwest’s leading scorers quickly doubled that nine-point advantage and then some after the break. By the time the No. 7 Devils started a full-court press and caught their breath, their upset bid had already unraveled.
Koser, Walker Yaple and Jaxson Yaple pieced together a 13-point run to start the second half and clinch Northwest’s spot in the District 2 Class 2A boys basketball semifinals. The No. 2 Rangers defeated Old Forge, 54-38, in their quarterfinal Thursday night at Lake-Lehman.
“They did a great job in the first half of keeping it close. We just were fortunate enough to pull away in the second half,” first-year Northwest coach Sean Miller said.
“Old Forge is always really good, no matter what time of year it is. But they’re even better come playoff time.”
Northwest (14-9) takes on No. 3 Susquehanna on Saturday with a district final and qualification for the PIAA tournament on the line. The Sabers edged No. 6 Elk Lake, 53-45.
Koser scored 16 points to lead Northwest. Walker and Jaxson Yaple both had 12, and they combined for five 3-pointers.
The three top performers took over the game in the third quarter, which started with Northwest in the lead, 25-16.
Walker Yaple got the surge started. He hit a 3-pointer from the corner and then absorbed a bit of contact during his follow-through for another 3 at the top of the arc.
Jaxson Yaple followed with a fastbreak layup and a pair of technical free throws.
Koser then drew a foul in the paint, swatted away a shot at the other end and came back down the floor for a layup. By the time Old Forge called a timeout, it was staring down a 38-16 deficit just three minutes into the half.
“Bryce Koser played really big tonight. He attacked the basket,” Miller said. “A couple breaks, a couple balls bounced our way. Walker Yaple hit a 3 right out of the half after he missed the first; I thought that got him going.”
The Devils (7-16) eventually knocked the Rangers out of rhythm with their press defense and went on an 11-2 run of their own. They continued to find open looks from there but just couldn’t get the lid off the basket as the clock kept ticking.
Old Forge hit its first two 3-pointers of the game and went 0 for 13 the rest of the way, when just a few extra shots could have given it life. Despite trailing by one point after a quarter and by no more than seven until right before halftime, the Devils never got closer than 13 late in the game.
“We got stops,” Miller said. “We play better if we get stops first.”
Dante Lucarelli scored 15 points, and Michael DiGregorio had 11 for Old Forge. Both are sophomores.
Overall, Old Forge loses only three seniors from a squad that had beaten higher 2A seeds Mountain View (No. 4) and Lackawanna Trail (No. 5) early this season.
“We have about three or four freshmen that really, really stepped up this year and gave us some good, quality minutes,” Devils coach Jared Yanniello added. “So, I think the future’s bright for us.”
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Old Forge (38)
D. Lucarelli 6 2-2 15, M. DiGregorio 4 3-4 11, S. Donovan 2 1-2 6, A. Rios 2 0-0 4, M. Samony 1 0-0 2, A. Davitt 0 0-0 0, J. Nocera 0 0-0 0, D. Domiano 0 0-0 0, M. Mucciolo 0 0-0 0, N. Tagliaterra 0 0-0 0, Totals 15 6-8 38.
B. Koser 7 2-6 16, W. Yaple 4 1-2 12, J. Yaple 4 2-2 12, T. Stevens 2 2-2 7, S. Saxe 1 3-4 5, T. Antolik 1 0-0 2, M. Crawford 0 0-0 0, C. Biller 0 0-0 0, J. Karam 0 0-0 0, M. Saxe 0 0-0 0, Totals 19 10-16 54.
Old Forge 12 4 9 15—38
Northwest 13 12 15 14—54
3-point goals: D. Lucarelli (OF) 1, S. Donovan (OF) 1, W. Yaple (NW) 3, J. Yaple (NW) 2, T. Stevens (NW) 1.