Honesdale's boys varsity basketball team faces a stretch of four games in five days
The Hornets posted what may be remembered as one of their most important wins of the 2018-19 Lackawanna League boys basketball season Monday night.
Honesdale welcomed North Pocono to a rollicking Red Palace for a Division II contest that could carry with it serious divisional and playoff implications.
Coach Tim Wood's squad played with great heart and hustle in this one, staving off numerous Trojan rallies en route to an electrifying 65-62 overtime victory.
Colin Rickard, Chris Cespedes and Colin Rickard each played a key role against an up & coming North Pocono team.
“This was definitely a tough one, but I am very happy with how our boys responded,” said Coach Wood. “We showed a great deal of mental toughness, especially at the end of the game and in overtime.
“There were a bunch of times that we could have crumbled and we didn't. That's a tribute to our kids and their resolve.”
With this wild win, the Red & Black improved their overall record to 9-7 on the season. They now embark upon an absolutely brutal stretch of schedule that sees them playing four games in five days.
“We're going to find out a lot about ourselves as a team and as individuals,” said Coach Wood. “We'll just take it one day and one game at a time.”
The Hornets travel to Western Wayne Friday night for a Division II battle with the Wildcats. They then host Scranton High on Saturday evening.
What follows are road games at West Scranton (Monday) and archrival Paupack (Tuesday).
Honesdale appeared to have Monday's game with North Pocono well in hand after a strong start.
The Hornets piled up 23 points in the first quarter and enjoyed a 38-26 led at intermission.
Rickard led the charge.
The fiery senior guard buried a pair of first period treys and closed out the half with 15 points. He would end the night with a game-best 22 and earn high marks from his mentor.
“This is the best all-around game Colin's played so far this year,” said Coach Wood. “I was very pleased with how he handled the ball and ran our offense.”
Rickard was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, handed out two assists, snagged three steals and went 3-for-4 at the free throw line.
North Pocono countered with a talented point guard of its own. Ryan Ruddy is just a freshman, but he's already emerging as one of the best ball-handlers in the entire league.
Ruddy tickled the twine for a team-best 21 points on Monday, including a pair of clutch free throws that sent the game into overtime.
“Ryan is a tremendous player,” veteran head coach Pat Shields said. “We're going to go as far as he can carry us. Ryan is young, but he's already an excellent leader on the court.”
Honesdale still enjoyed a 47-41 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but that's when things got interesting.
Led by Zach Walsh (15 pts) and Damarco Maglio (13 pts), North Pocono whittled away at the deficit, eventually tying the game at 56 and forcing OT.
Unfortunately for the visiting Trojans, that's when Cespedes decided to take matters into his own hands.
The junior forward tallied six of his 12 points in the extra session. He ended his night with a double-double by grabbing 12 rebounds.
“I challenged Chris during a timeout,” Coach Wood said. “I knew he had more to give and we needed him to step up. To his credit, that's exactly what he did. Chris made some huge plays down the stretch.”
Coach Sheilds concurred.
“We had big match-up problems with him right from the start,” he said. “We got beaten all night on the glass and Cespedes was one of the main reasons.”
Howell also brought the fans to their feet with one highlight reel shot after another. Will closed out his evening with 19 points, including three deep treys and a perfect 4-for-4 stint at the charity stripe.
“Will has an uncanny ability to make the big shot at the crucial time,” Coach Wood said. “When he gets his feet under him and is squared up to the basket, Will is one of the best three-point shooters in the entire area.”
Joey Scarfalloto also contributed key plays to the Red & Black cause with 10 points and eight boards.
Luke Bancroft rounded out the home team scoring with one bucket.
While Honesdale has undeniably created a bit of momentum with its win over North Pocono the Hornets face their most daunting task of the year.
“We're going into this really critical four-game stretch with very little in the way of practice time,” said Coach Wood. “We've only been in the gym twice since the Abington game and that's going on two weeks.
“We're at the mercy of the weather, so we just have to make the best of it.”
The Red & Black travel to Western Wayne tonight for a game at the venerable Varden Garden. Coach Al Semenza's squad is coming off a big win of its own, a 68-65 overtime thriller at Scranton High.
“That's always been a tough place for us to play and I know Al will definitely have his kids ready,” said Coach Wood. “They have two of the best scorers in the league, so we'll have our hands full.”
Weather permitting, the Hornets will turn right around and play Scranton Saturday at the Red Palace.
After a brief respite on Sunday, they'll be right back at it with road games versus West Scranton and Paupack on consecutive nights.
“We're going to have to go deeper into our bench,” Coach Wood said. “Some of our younger players will need to step up and give us some quality minutes.”
Honesdale is currently ranked sixth among eligible schools vying for a post season berth in Class 5A.
The Hornets sport a power ranking of .578840, trailing Abington Heights (.8-8372), Crestwood (.7490000), Wallenpaupack Area (.629754), Dallas (.609415) and Pittston Area (.584442).