Honesdale hoops star joins 1,000-Point Club in Lackawanna League victory
Electricity crackled in the air Friday night as archrivals Honesdale and Wallenpaupack Area met in a crucial early-season basketball battle.
More than 1,000 fans assembled on the shores of The Big Lake and thousands more tuned in to the Blue Ridge TV live broadcast of this Lackawanna League showdown.
Unfortunately for Paupack fans, Honesdale raced out to an early lead it never relinquished.
Kevin Miller and Ian Langendoerfer both turned in stellar performances, leading the visitors to a 52-38 victory.
With this double-digit win, the Hornets improved their record to 10-1 on the year. Coach Tim Wood's squad is now 3-0 and all alone atop the Division II standings.
"I'm very pleased with how we played tonight," Coach Wood said. "Paupack is a big, physical team. They're also very well coached, so getting a win here on their home court is huge."
Honesdale will return to action Tuesday night for a home game against Western Wayne.
Weather permitting, this contest is slated for a 7:15 p.m. start at the Red Palace.
Kevin Miller took center stage Friday night, and for good reason.
Honesdale's senior guard has been a fixture in the starting line-up for four years now and heading into this game needed just 13 points to reach 1,000 for his varsity career.
"I think when it's all said and done, Kevin will be remembered as one of the best basketball players in school history," said Coach Wood. "And that's a bold statement because there have been some incredibly talented players here."
Miller was content to run the offense and distribute the ball during the early stages of the game. Paupack paid close attention to the Hornet star, building several hybrid defenses designed to stop him.
"Look, we know what a great player Kevin Miller is," Buckhorns coach Rich McGinnis said. "We're not going to shut him down completely. What we hope we can do, though, is slow him up a little bit and limit the damage he does."
Paupack's defensive focus paid dividends in the first quarter, holding Miller scoreless. However, Langendoerfer took advantage of the scheme. Ian ... who's just a sophomore and may well be the next Hornet to join the 1,000-Point Club one day ... dialed up a pair of long-distance treys.
With Langendoerfer leading the way, Honesdale carved out a 14-10 lead after one period.
The Buckhorns did their level best not to become a local historical footnote.
Thanks in large part to Reshawn Battle, Paupack stayed within striking distance and delayed Miller's milestone moment.
Battle attacked the rim both in transition and from halfcourt sets. He would finish his night with a double-double, scoring 16 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Despite Battle's best efforts, Honesdale added to its lead in the second quarter.
Nick Casazza, Pat Hart and Cole McConnell contributed key plays as the Hornets took a 25-17 edge at intermission.
Casazza ignited the Red & Black fastbreak, piling up 15 points on lay-ups and short jumpers. Hart knocked down a key trey and finished with seven points. McConnell anchored the low post, grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds and blocking two shots.
Miller had just five points at halftime, but quickly picked up the pace in the third quarter.
Kevin drained a pair of pull-up jumpers and converted 1-of-2 free throws, setting the stage for his big moment.
On Honesdale's very next possession ... and with fans on their feet ... Miller etched his name into the local sports history books once and for all.
He drove right, pulled up a full stride beyond the three-point line and buried a trey. Pandemonium ensued as the crowd went wild. Officials stopped the game and Kevin's jubilant family joined him at halfcourt.
"I'm just really happy it's over," he said with a big smile. "It's pretty amazing. I'm really happy my family's here to share it. They've always supported me and I'm very grateful."
Miller is just the fifth boys basketball player in Honesdale history who's reached 1,000 points for his varsity career.
He joins Jim Tuman, Mike O'Neill, Joey Murray and John Kretschmer in this most exclusive club.
"It's definitely an honor to have my name up there with those guys," Miller said of the legendary stars whose names appear on a banner that hangs in the Red Palace.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, but I'm sure it will hit me in next few days."
Over & Out
After the game resumed, Miller went about the business of sealing the deal on a big Honesdale win.
Kevin closed out his historic night with a game-high 16 points and now has 1,003 for his career. Nine of those points came from behind the arc.
The Hornets outscored Paupack by a margin of 16-11 in the third period, then slowed the game down in the fourth. The result was a 52-38 victory.
"Every win is so important now that we're into league play," said Coach Wood. "We'll definitely enjoy this one, but then it's back to work to get ready for Western Wayne."
Score by Quarters...
HON (10-1) 14 11 16 11 - 52
WAL (4-7) 10 7 11 10 - 38