Coach Tim Wood's squad is seeded #9 in this year's Class AAA tournament
When they first met early this season on the boys varsity basketball scene, Honesdale and Tunkhannock looked to be headed in completely different directions.
The Hornets opened their 2012-13 season with seven straight wins and a pair of pre-season tourney titles.
The Tigers were one of those victims, suffering a lopsided 70-53 loss at the hands of the Red & Black.
In fact, Tunkhannock didn't taste victory until the opening round of Forest City's Rotary Tournament.
After defeating a young Mountain View squad, Coach Bob Miller's lads promptly turned around and lost to Western Wayne in the championship game ... one of only two Wildcat wins on the entire season.
Nearly two months have elapsed since Honesdale and Tunkhannock's first battle, but the stage has now been set for an intriguing re-match. And, the stakes are just about as high as they can get.
This evening, the Hornets and Tigers will face off in opening round action at the 2012-13 District Two Class AAA boys tournament.
The winner moves on to face either Abington or Berwick in the quarters and the loser goes home.
"I'm very optimistic and the kids are just raring to go," Coach Tim Wood said.
"If we play good defense, box out and communicate well, then we'll win. It's pretty much that simple. When we do those things, we're tough to beat."
Opening tip for this D-2 showdown is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Tunkhannock.
Setting the Stage
Honesdale has been a bit of an enigma this year.
As mentioned above, the Hornets opened the season on a roll at 7-0. In the win over Tunkhannock, though, the local lads encountered their first bit of adversity.
"We really didn't play all that well in the first half," said Coach Wood. "But, we made some adjustments in the lockerroom and turned things around.
"Tunkhannock is a Jekyll & Hyde team. They can score points in a hurry, but they can give them up in a hurry, too."
Honesdale trailed by one at intermission against the Tigers, but roared back to take control with a 21-10 third quarter run.
Tunkhannock is paced by a trio of talented players.
Brian Stephenson is the ringleader. A 6'2" forward who can function well both on the perimeter and in the paint, Stephenson scored 13 against Honesdale the first time around.
For the season, the senior is averaging nearly 17 points per game.
Austin Yanora is just 5'8" but one of the more deadly outside shooters in the WVC. The sophomore marksman leads his team with 33 treys.
Sean Soltysiak paced the Tigers' offensive attack the last time these two squads met. A 6'1" junior, Soltysiak rattled the rims for 20 points, including one trey and a 3-for-4 stint at the charity stripe.
Tunkhannock lost its final game of the regular season, a 20-point blowout at the hands of Crestwood.
However, the Tigers had already beaten the #3 seed Comets once.
"We're not looking past anybody," Coach Wood said. "We're 100 percent focused on Tunkhannock.
"They are definitely a good team But, if we play our game and dictate the pace, I think we'll be okay."
By the Numbers
Honesdale posted a 6-7 record in Lackawanna League action this year.
However, several Hornets finished out the Division II slate at or near the top of major statistical categories.
Nick Casazza captured a free throw shooting title by knocking down foul shots at an 85 percent clip.
Chris Nagel dazzled from downtown. The senior sharpshooter averaged more than two made treys in each Lackawanna League game.
Paupack's Jake Brown won the overall scoring title at 22.9 points per night; but, Kevin Miller finished third (14.5) and Nagel wound up fourth (13.8).
"For the most part, I'm very pleased with how the boys have played this year," said Coach Wood. "I really want to see them win this game against Tunkhannock because I don't think any of us are ready to see the season come to an end."