The Honesdale Friends of Basketball booster club hosted its annual year-end event at the high school.
This past weekend, local fans reveled in one last chance to celebrate an unforgettable boys basketball season.
Hundreds of folks gathered Saturday evening to honor the 2013-14 Honesdale Hornets, champions of the Lackawanna League's Division II.
"This was definitely my most memorable season since I came back to the program 10 years ago," Coach Tim Wood said.
"I'm very happy with how it played out and I'm thrilled for the kids. They worked incredibly hard and all that hard work paid off."
This year's Friends of Basketball banquet was rife with smiles, laughter and appreciation for one of the best varsity seasons in recent memory.
Local fans were buzzing with anticipation even before opening tip of the Finan Tournament, where Honesdale once again battled its way to a title.
The Hornets blasted West Scranton in the semis, then hung a double digit loss on the host Carbondale team in the championship game.
With All-Region point guard Kevin Miller leading the way, Honesdale reeled off seven straight wins to start the season.
The first loss came to Nazareth in the finals of the Jaycees Holiday Classic after which the Red & Black promptly went on a nine-game winning streak.
"I think resilient is a very good word to describe this team," said Coach Wood.
"When we lost to Nazareth, it forced us all to take a step back and re-focus. We got back to the fundamentals and became a better team because of it."
Without question, the low point of the campaign came during blowout losses against Scranton Prep and Abington Heights. However, the Hornets once again wasted little time in bouncing back.
The local lads closed out the regular season with double digit wins over Valley View and North Pocono.
That 66-55 victory over the Trojans sealed the deal on a division title and earned the Hornets a #4 seed in the District Two Class AAA playoffs.
The Red & Black dealt North Pocono another loss, setting the stage for a re-match with Prep ... and, this time it was a completely different story.
Led by the deadly one-two punch of Miller and Ian Langendoerfer, Honesdale avenged the loss with a 60-54 victory.
"That's a game these kids are going to remember for a very long time," Coach Wood said. "I think that win will probably go down as one of the biggest in the history of the Honesdale program."
The Hornets' saw their season come to a disappointing end just one win short of a state playoff trip. Consecutive losses to Abington and Wilkes Barre GAR at districts left them with an outstanding 21-5 overall record.
"We had our first division title in 29 years, so that's something I'll never forget," Coach Wood said. "It was an absolute pleasure working with these kids."
As one might expect, Miller was front and center went it came time to hand out the season-ending awards.
Kevin was a four-year varsity starter and three-time captain. He closed out his dazzling high school career with more than 1,200 points. He is also among Honesdale's all-tims leaders in assists, steals and three point shooting.
"Without a doubt, Kevin Miller is one of the best basketball players in school history," said Coach Wood.
"In addition to his natural abilities, Kevin possesses all the intangibles. He's a great leader on and off the court. We're really going to miss him."
Miller will continue his hoops career at Muhlenberg University. He earned All League and All Region status and was named this year's winner of the Luke Rickard Memorial Scholarship Award.
Cole McConnell balanced Miller's dazzling backcourt play with power in the paint.
A senior who brought toughness and grit to the Hornets' frontcourt, McConnell refused to back down and gave 100 percent effort every time he stepped on the court.
"Cole is the prototypical Honesdale basketball player," said Coach Wood.
"He's a lunch box and hard hat kind of kid. Cole is always hustling, always battling, always giving you everything he has. He was a huge presence on defense and with his rebounding."
McConnell averaged more than nine rebounds per game. He was honored with the H. Richard Osborne Memorial Award and named this year's Defensive Player of the Year.
Nick Casazza is a talented multi-sport athlete who enjoyed a breakout season on the basketball court.
A lightning-quick junior guard, Casazza average just over 10 points per game. He also specialized in clutch treys and shot nearly 80 percent from the free thow line.
"We knew coming into the season that Nick was one of the best defensive players in the league," Coach Wood said. "But, he really stepped up his offensive game this year.
“So many teams tried to play junk defenses against us to stop Kevin and Ian ... and Nick made them pay."
Casazza took home the hardware as Honesdale's Most Improved Player.
•Pat Hart: Outstanding Team Player.
•Mike Gombita: Outstanding Team Player.
•Kyle Carney: Take the Charge Award.
•Ian Langendoerfer: Lackawanna League All Star.
•Karl Surge: Most Improved JV Player.