HAZLETON – The three-pointer at the buzzer – a desperation heave by Hazleton Area's Chris Woodring from the other side of midcourt – didn't win the game Tuesday night. After all, there was still another quarter to play.
But it certainly didn't help Pittston Area's comeback hopes.
Woodring's launch capped a 20-point third quarter as Hazleton Area quelled Pittston Area and went on to a 67-45 victory in Wyoming Valley Conference Division I boys basketball.
It was a humongous turning point, Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. (The deficit) went from 11 to 14. Especially at that moment. A buzzer beater is like a bigger play to kid than a shot that was taken with a minute left in the third quarter.
It's kind of like a back breaker.
So was the loss for the divisional title hopes for the Patriots (6-3 Div. I, 10-7 overall). They fell three games behind first-place Wyoming Valley West (9-0, 12-5) with five games to play. Hazleton Area (7-2, 11-5) took over sole possession of second place.
(The game) was very important, Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said. My guts were churning all day. I don't really feel comfortable coming into a big game without having a chance to practice the day before.
Hazleton Area didn't practice Monday because school was closed due to the weather. Joseph, though, extended Sunday's practice because of the weather forecast.
The Cougars also had to deal with leading scorer Sal Biasi having an atypical game. While Biasi had a game-high 19 points, it was well below his WVC-leading average of 32.3.
Pittston Area senior guard Jayson Crawford provided outstanding defense of Blasi, who scored about one-third of his points when Crawford was taking a breather.
Brett Barron, Biasi's backcourt mate, picked up the slack and hit perhaps the most critical field goal of the game. Pittston Area had a chance to cut a deficit that swelled to as much as 17 points to six late in the third quarter.
The Patriots, though, failed in their offensive end and Barron answered with the second of his three threes in the quarter.
When he gets loose, he's a very good shooter, Kiesinger said.
Pittston Area also struggled on the board in the first half, a big reason Hazleton Area held a 31-20 lead at the break.
Behind Will Hierro, Kyle Karmonick and Kurtis Wright, the Cougars had a 20-5 rebound advantage through three quarters.
PITTSTON AREA (45): Michael Schwab 2 2-4 6, Jayson Crawford 2 0-3 4, James Emmett 3 0-0 6, James Tobisch 2 3-3 7, Mason Gross 3 2-2 9, Hassan Maxwell 0 2-4 2, Michael Delaney 1 0-0 2, Tyler McGarry 3 1-3 8, Kyle Gattuso 0 1-2 1, Ryan Hannon 0 0-0 0, Carmen Lobrutto 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 11-21 45.
HAZLETON AREA (67): Sal Biasi 7 2-4 19, Chris Woodring 3 2-2 9, Brett Barron 4 0-0 11, Will Hierro 1 0-0 2, Kurtis Wright 2 3-4 7, Kyle Karmonick 6 3-4 15, Hunter Samec 1 0-0 2, Jon Fogarty 1 0-0 2, Abel Felix 0 0-0 0, Reynal Santana 0 0-0 0, Richard Abreu 0 0-0 0, Devion Barlow 0 0-0 0.
3-Point Field Goals— PA 2 (Gross, McGarry); HA 7 (Biasi 3, Woodring, Barron 3)