The Hornets took their first step toward a possible Class AAA hoops title Wednesday night at Tunkhannock.
Coach Tim Wood's lads withstood an early barrage by the homestanding Tigers and took control of this District Two playoff game in the middle two quarters.
"We definitely got off to a slow start," he told TWI Sports. "We didn't attack their press as aggressively as I would have liked. But, we cranked up the intensity level and got things going."
Honesdale trailed 12-6 after one, but outscored the home team by a margin of 30-16 in the middle two periods en route to a solid 48-40 victory.
With this win the Hornets upped their overall record to 15-8. Next up for Coach Wood's squad is a Friday night showdown with #1 Abington Heights.
"There are two ways to look at this," he said.
"You can either look at playing a state-ranked team like Abington as a daunting task or as an exciting challenge. We choose to see it as an exciting challenge."
Opening tip for this Class AAA quarterfinal contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Scranton Prep gym.
Tickets for all District Two games are $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Tunkhannock used its pressure defense to force several early turnovers and take a quick lead.
Brian Stephenson led the attack, powering his way to a team-best 13 points as the Tigers closed out the first period up by six.
However, Stephenson's 13-point total was well below his season average ... thanks to an outstanding defensive effort in the paint by Cole McConnell and Jon Gillow.
Stephenson was forced to start kicking the ball back outside to his guards, but that played right into Coach Wood's masterful gameplan.
Page 2 of 3 - "We knew coming in they'd give us a battle," he said. "Tunkhannock likes to put it up from the outside, but our perimeter defense really shut them down."
In fact, the Hornets held Tiger sharpshooters to just 4-of-22 from beyond the arc. In addition, the Red & Black began solving the press and converting easy transition baskets.
"We missed a couple of chippies early," said Coach Wood. "But, they started to fall after that and I knew we'd be okay."
Offensively, Kevin Miller and Chris Nagel set the tone for Honesdale.
Miller battled foul trouble all evening long, but still managed to score a team-best 12 points. When Kevin was forced to sit down after picking up a quick third foul, Nick Casazza came in and performed admirably.
"I'm really proud of the way that Nick responded," said Coach Wood. "We pretty much just handed him the reins and let him do his thing. Nick showed very good leadership."
Nagel gritted his teeth in the face of nagging injuries which have plagued him all season long. Chris scored from the field, from the line and from beyond the arc on his way to 11 points.
Down the Stretch
Honesdale extended its lead to double digits early in the fourth quarter, then cruised to an 8-point win.
Junior guard Kyle Carney (eight pts) and freshman forward Ian Langendoerfer (seven) each contributed key plays along the way.
Gillow and Casazza chipped in with four apiece, while Pat Hart rounded out the scoring with two.
"This win was a total team effort," said Coach Wood. "We started off slowly, but every time we needed a big basket, it seemed like someone else stepped up.
"Tunkhannock is a solid team, so this was a very good win for us in a hostile environment."
Page 3 of 3 - Score by Quarters...
HON (15-8) 6 15 15 12 - 48
TUN (9-13) 12 4 12 12 - 40