The Northeast Machine's boys varsity basketball squad closed out a brilliant spring season this past weekend. Despite seriously depleted ranks, Coach Tim Wood's club rolled to a 69-60 victory over 21 Hoops in Scranton.

Tim Wood was just a wee bit worried as the final weekend of the local AAU Basketball season tipped-off.

Along with Mike Miller, Wood is the Northeast Machine co-director and coach of the boys varsity squad.

On Saturday, he took a much-depleted team to Scranton for the last tournament of the spring.

Due to illness, injury and scheduling conflicts (like the Honesdale prom), the Machine hit the hardwood with a total of only six players...and one of those lads was an eighth grader.

“Let’s just say I was concerned,” Coach Wood said. “This was a real gut check for us. I was very interested to see how these kids would respond.”

As it turned out, he needn’t have worried.

The Machine came out hitting on all cylindes against a 21 Hoops team stacked with Lackawanna League Division II and III all-stars.

The local lads raced out to a big early lead, fended off a second half rally and cruised to a 69-60 win.

“I’ve been coaching basketball for a long time now and I can honestly say I’ve never been prouder of a team,” Coach Wood said. “They played with so much heart and determination. It was an absolute pleasure to watch.”

On the Hardwood

Jake Brown led the way offensively for the Machine.

A lightning-quick point guard from Wallenpaupack Area, Brown erupted for 11 points in the game’s opening five minutes.

Jake would finish his day with a game-best 24 points, earning high marks from his mentor.

“Jake just absolutely dominated,” Coach Wood said. “He is an outstanding young basketball player.”

While Brown was tearin’ it up from the perimeter, Nico Tereschak made his presence felt in the paint.

Another up & coming Buckhorn, the sophomore center used a dazzling array of low post moves and sheer determination to record a double-double.

Nico terrorized his 21 Hoops counterparts for 15 points and 12 rebounds.

“Nico is one of the most improved players around,” said Coach Wood. “If he keeps working hard, I think he’s going to have a very bright future.”

Defensively, the Machine had its hands full...especially in the post.

21 Hoops has been built around Tunkhannock center James Hawk. A towering 6’10” junior, Hawk spent the 2011 AAU campaign making life miserable for enemy defenders. Not so on Saturday, though.

Johnny Watkins and Tereschak combined to stifle Hawk from wire-to-wire.

When the final buzzer sounded, the tenacious Machine tandem had limited him to just six points and eight rebounds.

“I can’t say enough about how well those they played,” Coach Wood said. “For obvious reasons, Hawk can be very intimidating and our kids never backed down.”

Chris Nagel and Joe Casazza also played key roles in this big win.

A sophomore who sees most of his minutes on the wing, Nagel shredded the 21 Hoops defense by raining down long-range jumpers. He wound up with five treys and a total of 17 points.

Casazza, a hard-nosed sophomore guard, contributed several big buckets down the stretch. Joe finished up with 10 points.

Nick Casazza rounded out the Machine offense.

An eighth grader who was pressed into emergency service due to the team’s depleted ranks, Casazza acquitted himself well at the varsity level.

The Northeast Machine led by double digits through most of the second half. However, 21 Hoops made a late run and actually surged in front with five minutes left in regulation.

Coach Wood’s squad bounced back, though, re-taking the lead and sealing the deal with clutch foul shooting down the stretch.

“On paper, we were probably outmatched at every position,” he said. “But, the kids hustled, got on the floor after loose balls and boxed out relentlessly. It was a tremendous effort all the way around.”