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A runaway train

Four players hit double figures as high-scoring Hazleton Area rolls to win.

Frank Vito of Hazleton Area shoots the ball over a host of Coughlin defenders during a high school basketball game Thursday night.

AIMIE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER

Joel Espinal of Hazleton shoots the ball against Coughlin during a high school basketball game Thursday.

AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER

WILKES-BARRE – The only time the Coughlin Crusaders defeated Hazleton Area in the past 10 seasons, they limited the Cougars to 46 points.

Hazleton Area was two shy of it by halftime Thursday night and continued to roll in the second half.

The Cougars put four players in double figures as they ran past Coughlin 90-56 in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division I boys basketball game.

Hazleton Area improved to 2-1 in the second-half season and 11-6 overall. Coughlin fell to 0-3 in the division and 6-12 overall.

“The thing that worried me was we haven’t been able to practice for two days because we were out of school,” Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said. “We had no school Tuesday and Wednesday, so we couldn’t get in the gym. We had about a half hour shoot-around and walk-through before we left, so you never know.

“I thought we’d be well rested. This is the time of year you usually don’t get two and a half days off your feet.”

From the onset, Hazleton Area wanted to speed up the tempo. The Cougars sacrificed a little defense for plenty of offense, taking a 26-20 lead after one quarter.

And the Cougars kept running.

“We certainly did,” Hazleton Area point guard Tyler Plaksa said. “We scored 90 points, everyone was knocking down shots, we got the ball out on transition and scored a lot of points on fastbreaks.”

Exactly what Coughlin, which is fighting for a WVC District 2 Class 3A playoff berth, didn’t want to see.

When the Crusaders have played Hazleton Area closely in the past, they kept the Cougars under 50 points. But Hazleton Area’s 44-34 halftime lead showed it wasn’t going to happen Thursday night.

“We were just unable to execute or defensive gameplan,” Coughlin coach Joe Caffrey said. “First of all, you have to get back and make them play against five defenders. We just seemed we were not able to accomplish that with any sort of frequency.”

Nor were the Crusaders able to get any offensive continuity except for Matt Dobosh. The 6-foot-1 senior scored 21 points and was their only consistent shooter before the game got out of hand.

Hazleton Area senior Dwaine Gilley was able to counterbalance anything Dobosh did. Gilley finished with 14 points, including two baskets to start the third quarter to give the Cougars a 48-34 lead.

“I hurt my shoulder last game.” Gilley said, “so I just tried to give all the energy I had to give to help my team out.”

Freshman starter Sal Blasi also had 14 points. Senior Danny Fogarty added 12, including setting the offensive pace with a couple 3-pointers. Junior Travis Buckner provided 12 more off the bench.

HAZLETON AREA (90): Biasi 6 0-0 14, Gilley 6 2-4 14, Buckner 5 1-1 12, Fogarty 3 3-6 12, Vito 4 0-0 9, Plaksa 4 1-2 9, Joseph 2 0-0 5, Smith 2 1-1 5, Hauze 2 0-0 4, Karmonick 1 1-2 3, Pataki 1 0-0 2, Gill 0 1-2 1, Espinal 0 0-0 0. Totals 36 10-18 90.

COUGHLIN (56): Dobosh 8 2-3 21, Davis 3 4-7 11, Grullon 3 2-4 8, Cobb 2 1-2 5, Oliver 2 0-0 4, Heffers 1 0-0 3, Montgomery 1 0-0 3, Flaherty 1 0-0 2, Ellis 1 0-0 2, Trout 0 0-2 0, Jeremiah 0 0-0 0, McDonald 0 0-0 0, Booker 0 0-0 0, Soriano 0 0-0 0, Khalife 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 9-18 56.

Hazleton Area 26 18 23 23 90
Coughlin 20 14 12 12 56

3-Point Field Goals— HA 8 (Fogarty 3, Biasi 2, Jospeh, Vito, Buckner); COU 5 (Dobosh 3, Heffers, Montgomery)

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