Despite early game struggles, Honesdale rallied to defeat Forest City and advance to the finals.
Day One of the 54th Annual Honesdale Area Jaycees Holiday Tournament got off to a rousing start.
Old Man Winter finally cooperated, a fact which paved the way for big enthusiastic crowds at both the middle and high school gyms.
On the girls' side of the ledger, Wallenpaupack Area whetted appetites by rallying for a razor-thin 54-48 win over Western Wayne.
In the nightcap, Honesdale also needed to stage a late-game rally to put away a pesky Forest City squad, 37-35.
The Lady Hornets and Buckhorns will now meet in a championship game that already has organizers giddy with anticipation.
"It's going to be really exciting," Luke Turano said. "I think it's probably safe to say this is the game everybody wants. We're absolutely looking forward to it."
Opening tip for Saturday's consolation contest is between Western Wayne and Forest City is slated for 5:45 p.m. in the high school.
Honesdale and Paupack will follow at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Western Wayne and Wallenpaupack Area squared off in the first game, a re-match between the two teams who just recently played in the Lake Region Tip-Off Classic championship game.
Paupack won that one, but not before spotting the Lady 'Cats a big early lead that lasted into the fourth quarter.
On Thursday evening, fans who packed the stands saw a near-repeat of Monday's title tilt. Western Wayne once again jetted out to an early advantage, only to see Paupack roar back in the second half.
Thanks to another stellar effort from the Carmody Twins, Coach Colleen Kloss' squad 15-9 after lne and extended that lead to 27-18 at intermission.
Rachel Carmody led the way, powering her way to a double-double in the paint with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Sister Rebecca was every bit as impressive. A junior point guard who runs the Lady 'Cat offense with pinpoint precision, Carmody rattled the rims for 14 points. She also snagged six steals and handed out five assists.
Sadly for Varden fans, even this dynamic hoops duo couldn't seal the deal on a Western Wayne win. Paupack ratcheted up the defensive intensity after halftime and rode a wave of momentum to victory.
"We still haven't really put together four complete quarters," Coach Kloss said.
"That's the second time in a week we had Paupack on the ropes and we couldn't close it out. It's definitely frustrating, but we'll learn from it."
Bridgette Mann paced Paupack's comeback bid. The Lady Bucks senior guard ran wild in the third and fourth quarters.
Mann scored in the paint, from the perimeter and in transition. She closed out the night with a game-high 22 points, including three deep treys.
"Bridgette always seems to be in the right place at the right time," Coach Adam Holtzer said. "She's a very good athlete and she has a knack for scoring."
Olivia Scartelli also contributed big plays for Paupack, especially down the stretch.
A sharpshooting freshman guard, Olivia tickled the twine for an even dozen points. Six of those, including four crucial free throws, came in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
Honesdale has struggled generating consistent offense early in the season.
That pattern continued Thursday evening against Forest City. The Lady Hornets shot an abysmal 23 percent from the floor and incredibly missed all 18 tries from beyond the arc.
What saved Coach Pilar Beam's team on this particular night was relentless defense and a blue collar work ethic on the boards.
"Back to the drawing board again!" Coach Beam said wit a laugh after Honesdale escaped with a 37-35 win.
"The shots just aren't falling for us right now, so have to work that much harder on defense and rebounding. We'll get it figured out."
Forest City hung with the Red & Black all throughout this game. However, the Foresters wilted at key moments thanks to non-stop pressure from the likes of Morgan Birmelin, Katie Miller, Jess Carney, Jackie Gallik, Taylor Parenti and Stacey Hart.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Honesdale had forced an eye-popping 26 turnovers and outrebounded the visitors by a margin of 2-to-1.
Offensively, the local lasses were paced by Stacey Hart.
A versatile junior, Hart ignited the Red & Black attack with three crucial baskets early in the third quarter. She ended up with eight points.
"I'm very happy with how Stacey played tonight," Coach Beam said. "She really came through when we needed a spark. Stacey did an excellent job for us."
Gallik contributed a team-best nine points, while Carney chipped in with six and Parenti added five.