Last updated: February 12. 2014 8:01AM - 1605 Views
By - jerzar@timesleader.com

Hazleton Area's Jon Fogarty (left) battles Crestwood's Josk Malkemes for a loose ball during Tuesday's game in Wright Township.
Hazleton Area's Jon Fogarty (left) battles Crestwood's Josk Malkemes for a loose ball during Tuesday's game in Wright Township.
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WRIGHT TWP. — Round Three could be right around the corner.

Before a packed gym, Crestwood forged a tie atop Division I of Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball with a 67-62 victory over Hazleton Area on Tuesday.

Forward Chris Fazzini scored 23 and guard Brady Gallagher added 20 as Crestwood improved to 12-1 in Division I and 18-3 overall. Hazleton fell to 12-1 in the division and 18-3 overall. The Comets’ victory also snapped Hazleton Area’s 14-game winning streak, the Cougars’ longest since opening the 2006-07 season with 18 consecutive wins.

Crestwood led wire-to-wire after Fazzini opened the game with an inside basket.

“The nice part was every time I looked up, we always had the lead,” Crestwood coach Mark Atherton said. “Credit Hazleton for making so many runs. Both teams have that warrior mentality, and it was just a great win.”

Both teams conclude the regular season Thursday, although the possibility of snow could dash those plans. Hazleton Area hosts Berwick (1-12, 2-19). Crestwood has a much tougher task, making a long trip to Tunkhannock (7-6, 10-11).

If the teams remain tied after those games, both would prefer to play a championship game on Saturday. However, that possibility hinges on the weather as it’s unlikely they would play consecutive games.

Hazleton Area fell behind by as many as 12 in the second quarter but managed to move within 38-36 with 1:17 left in the third quarter. But like so many times before, Crestwood came up big. Guard Cole Wasco ended the quarter with his only field goal of the game, a three-pointer from the left corner.

The same thing happened with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter after a pair of free throws by Jon Fogarty moved Hazleton Area within 55-51. Crestwood center Luke Casey hit a finger-roll layup, with the ball barely having enough energy to trickle into the basket.

From there, the game was reduced mainly to a free-throw shooting contest as 15 of the last 21 points were scored from the foul line.

“I think I could have managed those last six or seven minutes better personally,” Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said. “It got a little helter-skelter there. We took maybe some shot we didn’t need to take.”

Sal Biasi led Hazleton Area with 36 points, but Crestwood kept the sharp shooter’s damage from the field to a minimum. He had just six field goals. Fogarty added 12 more.

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