Playing in a foreign gym in front of a raucous home crowd, the Old Forge freshman team rallied for a 39-37 victory over GAR in the District 2 Boys’ Freshman Championship semifinals on Friday night in Wilkes-Barre. The Blue Devils will face Lackawanna League Division I champion Scranton Prep on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at Pittston Area High School. The Cavaliers beat Hazleton White, 59-37.
The teams battled back and fourth in the first quarter with the Grenadiers taking an 11-8 lead after the first seven minutes. The Wyoming Valley Conference Division II champs used a 10-5 run over the next 2:40 to take a 21-13 lead with 4:20 showing on the second quarter clock.
But Old Forge was able to battle back with a 12-2 run as Jimmy Aversa buried two three-pointers and scored seven of his 10 points as the Blue Devils took a 25-23 lead into halftime.
Old Forge opened the second half with a free throw by Ryan Paulish to take its biggest lead of the game at 26-23, but GAR scored 10 of the next 12 points to take a 33-28 lead with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.
From there the Blue Devils closed the game with an 11-4 run, fueled by back-to-back three-pointers from Jordan Ohler and Robert Donovan to give Old Forge a 37-35 lead with 1:35 left.
GAR would tie the game on its next possession, but the Blue Devils scored with 6.8 seconds left when Donovan found Jorden Sekol breaking to the basket for a layup, and a 39-37 lead. The Grenadiers missed a three-pointer at the buzzer for the win.
Aversa and Sekol scored 10 points each to lead Old Forge. Aversa also added five assists, and Sekol five rebounds. Ohler added nine points and four assists for the Blue Devils, and Paulish chipped in with six points. Brandon Yescavage and Paul Piemontese put in a solid defensive effort for the Lackawanna League Division II champs.
The Old Forge Freshman Boys’ Basketball team won its second Lackawanna League Division II Freshman title in the past four seasons when it defeated Valley View, 40-31, last Friday in a special playoff game at Mid Valley High School in Throop.
The Blue Devils, who won the first-half championship, got 17 points from center Ryan Paulish to be the second-half champion Cougars.