HONESDALE — On a frigid winter night here in the Maple City, Honesdale and Wallenpaupack Area treated local fans to a game that can rightly be called an "instant classic."
These two ancient rivals delighted a packed house with four full periods of electrifying basketball...the kind of a game that left spectators and players alike emotionally drained.
When the final buzzer sounded on this, the championship game of the 53rd Annual Honesdale Area Jaycees Holiday Tournament, the Hornets had won their first title since 2006 and left their exhausted skipper searching for adjectives.
"Honestly, I'm just about speechless," Coach Tim Wood said just moments after his Hornets defeated archrival Paupack, 75-67.
"I'll say this, though: The fans here tonight witnessed an amazing high school basketball game. I don't think anyone will forget this one for a very long time."
The Hornets are now 8-0 on the year and ready for their Lackawanna League opener Friday evening at Scranton High.
Back & Forth
Behind the dazzling play of All-Everything guard Jake Brown, Paupack raced out to an early lead in the Jaycees' title tilt.
Brown, who erupted for a tournament-best 31 against East Stroudsburg South in Friday's semi, hammered home 22 more Sunday night against Honesdale.
"Jake Brown is a special player," Coach Wood said.
"You're never going to stop him for an entire game. The best you can hope to do is play him tough and make him earn everything gets."
Thanks in large part to Brown's dizzying array of open court moves, Paupack built a 17-16 lead after one. The Bucks then extended that advantage to 33-26 at intermission.
Page 2 of 3 - Chris Nagel and Kevin Miller worked hard to keep the Hornets close … much to the delight of a big, enthusiastic crowd.
Nagel, a senior guard who excels in all facets of the game, scored in every period against Paupack and finished with 15 points.
Add that to his 19-point outburst against Nazareth in the semis and you have the ingredients for an All-Tournament selection.
"He's one tough kid," said Coach Wood of Nagel, who shrugged off an injury early on in Sunday night's championship game.
"We didn't dare take him out for fear that it might tighten up on him. I'm proud of the way Chris responded and I'm very happy that he was recognized by the Jaycees."
Meanwhile, Miller was even more impressive … if that's possible.
Kevin came into the title tilt nursing a high ankle sprain and was basically operating on one wheel against Paupack.
Miller scored just three points in the first half, but ran wild after the break and wound up with 25. He also managed to haul down 10 rebounds and hand out eight assists on his way to the tourney's MVP trophy.
"Kevin was in a lot of pain, but he sucked it up and showed just how tough he is," said Coach Wood.
"I really don't know what to say about Kevin Miller anymore. He's just a terrific basketball player and a great kid. He is absolutely a pleasure to coach."
Over & Out
While Nagel and Miller walked away with all the hardware, several other Hornets turned in superb performances as well
Kyle Carney and Nick Casazza formed a deadly backcourt duo, combining for 19 points and playing relentless defense.
Page 3 of 3 - Cole McConnell came off the bench to provide serious muscle in the paint. The junior center hauled down six rebounds and blocked three Paupack shots.
Ian Langendoerfer tallied six of his eight points in the second half, helping to ignite Honesdale's late-game offensive surge.
Pat Hart contributed five points to the Red & Black cause, while Jon Gillow did his best to neutralize the Buckhorn tandem of Nico Tereschak and Anthony Bouselli.
Score by Quarters...
HON (8-0) 16 10 24 25 – 75
WAL (6-3) 17 16 17 17 - 67