Honesdale's boys basketball team defeated Carbondale in the championship game
At halftime of Tuesday's Finan Memorial Tournament championship game, Tim Wood issued a challenge to his players.
Honesdale's veteran boys basketball coach reminded his team that they were the defending champs ... and if they didn't elevate their level of play, Carbondale Area would be hoisting the trophy at game's end.
"I might have raised my voice a little bit at one point," Coach Wood said with a wink and a smile. "I think they got the message."
They certainly did.
The Hornets opened the second half on a blistering 17-7 run, taking control of the title tilt once and for all en route to a 55-43 win.
Kevin Miller and Ian Langendoerfer led the way at both ends of the floor.
Miller poured in 45 points over the course of two games on his way to the MVP honors.
Langendoerfer was every bit as impressive, powering his way to 36 points and earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Honesdale is off to a 2-0 start and will be back on the hardwood Friday evening at home versus Blue Ridge.
Opening tip for this non-league game is tentatively scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at the Red Palace.
The Hornets drew West Scranton in the Finan Tourney semis on Sunday night in the Pioneer City.
As has been the case the past several years, these two teams staged another brutal, physical battle.
Miller paced the Red & Black offensive attack in this one. Kevin rattled the rims for a game-high 19 points, but he also found the time to hand out six assists and snare seven steals.
"Kevin Miller showed his leadership skills," Coach Wood said.
"He gives you all the measurables ... like points and assists and steals ... but, he also gives you all those intangibles you have to have to win games."
Langendoerfer also began flexing his muscles early in the West Scranton game.
Ian dominated in the low post, but also wasn't shy in stepping outside to nail a middle range jumper. He finished up with 17 points.
"Ian is really showing a lot of maturity as a player," said Coach Wood. "He's still only a sophomore, but he's playing more like a junior or senior."
Nick Casazza turned in a stellar all-round effort as well. The lightning-quick guard tallied 10 points, pulled in four rebounds, snagged three steals and handed out two assists.
Cole McConnell also played a key role in the win over West Scranton.
A tough-as-nails senior center. McConnell carded eight rebounds and blocked a pair of shots before sitting down with an injury.
The Hornets managed to overcome Cole's absence, though, outscoring the Invaders by a margin of 36-17 in the second half.
Carbondale Area took advantage of sloppy play by the Hornets Tuesday to take a 22-17 lead at intermission.
Isaiah McCord in particular gave the Red & Black fits. The Charger forward scored from the paint, from the perimeter and in transition.
Fortunately for a large contingent of Hornet fans who traveled over Farview Mountain for the game, McCord ran into foul trouble and missed most of the second half.
Miller and Langendoerfer took over from there.
Kevin gashed Carbondale whether they played man or zone, freewheeling his way to a game-best 26 points.
He tallied 10 field goals, went 6-for-8 at the charity stripe and was an easy choice for MVP.
"Kevin has a real calming influence on the team," said Coach Wood. "When things aren't going well, Kevin is there to make a big play and get us back on the right track. He's an outstanding all-around player."
Ian tried his level best to provide perimeter scoring against the Chargers, but it just wasn't to be. He missed all five of his three-point tries, but showed great maturity by adapting quickly to the situation.
Langendoerfer ran the floor on fastbreaks and filled in the low post void left by McConnell's injury.
"We really needed Ian to step up his interior game since Cole was out," Coach Wood said. "I asked him for 12 boards and he went out there and got us 14."
Langendoerfer closed out the game with 19 points, including a 9-of-10 stint at the stripe.
This game was ultimately decided in the third period when Honesdale came out of the lockerroom and went on a 17-7 run.
Casazza (three pts), Kyle Carney (three), Pat Hart (two) and Gus Martin (two) rounded out the Red & Black attack.
Score by Quarters...
HON (2-0) 10 7 17 21 - 55
CAR (1-1) 9 13 7 14 - 43