SCRANTON – Mark Bevacqua had just finished leading Holy Cross to its second District 2 Class AA boys basketball title in the two years that the school has existed.
While many of the players on the floor remained the same and many of them will have a shot at three in a row next year, Bevacqua was happiest about sharing the championship experience with Robert Weber, the team’s only senior starter.
“It’s amazing. It feels great to win one with Rob,” Bevacqua said after scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds Friday night to lead the Crusaders to a 46-36 victory over Riverside in the championship game at Scranton High School. “It’s amazing the way he has come back from that injury.”
Weber missed the second half of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. He returned to be in the starting lineup from Opening Night and leads the team in assists and steals while ranking fourth in scoring.
After being scoreless for nearly 30 minutes, Weber was 5-for-6 from the line in the final 2:08 to help the Crusaders hang on.
Holy Cross shot 9-for-12 in that stretch helping to pull away again after Riverside, which never led, closed the gap to 35-32 with 3:48 left.
“As a team, we knocked down the important free throws,” said Bevacqua, who made three of his four attempts earlier in the quarter to help the team go 12-for-16 in the final eight minutes.
Riverside put together a 7-1 burst in a span of 1:11 on two Chris Talerico baskets and a Gerry Reilly 3-pointer to wipe away most of a deficit that had reached 11 midway through the third quarter.
“We knew we were OK,” Bevacqua said. “We just went back to what we needed to do.”
Brett Podhyski found Bevacqua in the low post for a basket on the next possession and the Holy Cross defense held Riverside scoreless until Weber and Podhyski could go to the line and rebuild a 10-point lead.
Kevin Sochovka and Chris Bergamino brought Riverside back one last time, closing to within 42-36, but Weber hit two free throws with 48.1 seconds left and Louis Cipriano added two more with 36.5 left to close the scoring.
Weber and J.J. Gaughan each had three steals while leading a Holy Cross defense that held Riverside to 33 percent shooting. The Crusaders opened the game by holding the Vikings scoreless for 5:35.
A three-point play by Cipriano and a 3-point basket by Eric O’Hora keyed an eight-point streak to a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Bevacqua had two baskets and Cipriano a 3-pointer in a 7-2 start to the second half to build the game’s biggest lead at 30-19.
Reilly and Corey Talerico had eight points each while Kevin Sochovka had seven points and nine rebounds for Riverside, the 10th seed in the 17-team tournament.
The Vikings advance into state play along with Holy Cross and third-place Dunmore.
Holy Cross opens with the District 4 runner-up close to home while Riverside will play the District 4 champion March 7 in the first round of state play. Loyalsock (20-3) and Hughesville (20-4) were playing for the District 4 title Friday night.
RIVERSIDE (36): Bergamino 0-6 4-4 4, Reilly 3-11 0-1 8, Chisdock 1-3 0-0 2, Sochovka 3-5 1-5 7, M. Talerico 1-3 0-0 3, C. Talerico 4-8 0-3 8, Armillay 1-3 0-0 3, Kincel 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 13-39 6-15 36.
HOLY CROSS (46): Bevacqua 7-14 3-5 17, Cipriano 2-7 3-5 8, Podhyski 0-3 6-6 6, Gaughan 1-2 0-2 3, Weber 0-3 5-6 5, Rosencrance 1-1 2-2 4, O’Hora 1-2 0-1 3, Purcell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-32 19-27 47.
3-point field goals: Riverside 4 (Reilly 2, Armillay, M. Talerico); Holy Cross 3 (Gaughan, O’Hora, Cipriano).
James Timlin moved into the starting lineup and paid immediate dividends by scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter to send Dunmore on its way to a 58-50 victory over Mountain View for third place in District 2 Class 2A.
The win gives Dunmore (20-7) the district’s last Class AA playoff berth and puts the Bucks against the District 1 champion in the first round of state play. Devon Prep plays St. Pius for the District 1 title today.
Timlin hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter when the Bucks grabbed a 20-11 lead. He had another 3-pointer in the second quarter as Dunmore built the halftime lead to 30-19.
Matt Maldonato added 14 points and Michael Ehnot had 12 for Dunmore.
Alex Pashchuk led Mountain View with 20 points, including 8-for-9 foul shooting.
Pete Hartman added 12 points on four second-half, 3-pointers, including three in the third quarter when the Eagles closed within six.
Ehnot had seven points and Dunmore went 7-for-9 from the line in the fourth quarter. Pat Ross was 4-for-4 in the fourth.
MOUNTAIN VIEW (50): Hartman 4 0-0 12, Corbin 1 1-2 4, McBride 2 3-5 7, Jenkins 2 2-3 7, Pashchuk 6 8-9 20, Monahan 0 0-0 0, Madas 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 14-19 50.
DUNMORE (58): Timlin 5 1-2 15, Holmes 2 1-1 5, Ross 2 4-4 8, Copeland 2 0-1 4, Maldonato 6 2-2 14, Perry 0 0-1 0, Rowland 0 0-0 0, Ehnot 4 2-2 12, Connors 0 0-0 0, 21 10-13 58.
3-point field goals: Mountain View 6 (Hartman 4, Corbin, Jenkins); Dunmore 6 (Timlin 4, Ehnot 2).