Pittston Area fought all the way back from a double-figures deficit in the first half.
When the Patriots nearly repeated that feat in the second half Thursday night, Coughlin came up with an answer.
The Crusaders went 12-for-15 from the line in the final 5:12, getting all of their fourth-quarter scoring there while holding on for a 57-53 victory in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 boys basketball finale for both teams.
Coughlin pulled off just its third league win of the season, sending Pittston Area into the District 2 Class AAA playoffs on a three-game losing streak.
The Crusaders used the win to avoid the possibility of needing a play-in game. Instead the teams may be in line for a rematch Tuesday night in the first full round of district playoffs. The official pairings are expected to be available from District 2 later today.
We just have to get back to our fundamentals and not forget how we got here, said Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger.
The Patriots held on to the fifth seed in the 17-team district field because they were 8-3 in WVC play before the three-game losing streak.
Problems on both ends of the floor prevented a better ending to the regular season.
Pittston Area was 1-for-9 from the floor to start the game and fell behind, 15-2, as a result.
The Patriots recovered to lead by as much as five in the second quarter and were still in front, 30-29, at halftime. When they missed 17 of 18 shots to start the second half, they fell back behind, 46-36.
There were other issues.
Nate Oliver and Conner Flaherty had all 43 of their team's points in the first 23 minutes. Oliver finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Flaherty had 20 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots.
I was not happy with the way we defended, Kiesinger said. We know who their scorers are. One had 26. The other had 20.
Mason Gross led Pittston Area with 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.
The offensive struggles were from two different issues.
The Patriots easily passed through the Crusaders defense to open the game, but missed a series of easy shots.
Once they started rolling, the passing resulted in assists on each of the first 10 Pittston Area baskets and the Patriots quickly raced in front.
In the second half, Pittston Area had more trouble solving Coughlin's defense.
Oliver had 12 points in a 14-1 run to end the first half and start the second, putting Coughlin in front, 39-31.
The Patriots managed just six points in more than 12 ½ minutes while slipping behind by 10.
Gross converted his own rebound and James Tobisch turned a steal into two free throws 11 seconds later to start the last comeback attempt and cut the deficit to 46-40 with 4:11 left.
Pittston Area got within three points three times – on 3-pointers by Michael Delaney and Tyler McGarry and off a rebound by Michael Schwab.
Tobisch had four steals and Schwab had four assists in the loss.
Starting guard Jayson Crawford left the game in the first half with an apparent concussion, leaving his status for the start of the playoffs in question.
Mike Carey hit four 3-pointers while producing almost half of Wyoming Area's offense during a 59-33 loss to Holy Redeemer Thursday night in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 finale.
Carey finished with 16 points.
The Warriors led, 10-8, after one quarter. The Royals took control over the next two quarters, then ran way by scoring 27 points in the fourth.
Mike Boutanos and Brian Banas led Holy Redeemer with 13 points each.
Unofficially, Wyoming Area was seeded 13th in the 17-team 3A District 2 tournament, pending the official seeding announcement.
Wyoming Valley West held Pittston Area to eight points in the middle two quarters on the way to a 57-38 romp Tuesday night.
The Spartans scored five quick points in the closing seconds of the first quarter for a 17-12 lead. They then held the Patriots to four points each in the second and third quarters on the way to a 41-20 advantage after three quarters.
Larry Anderscavage scored 14 points, Lucky Williams 13 and Brett Good 12 to lead Wyoming Valley West.
Mason Gross led the Patriots with 17 points and three steals.
Wyoming Seminary ruined Wyoming Area's Senior Night with a 65-39 rout Tuesday night.
Seth Callahan hit four 3-pointers while scoring 27 points for Wyoming Seminary.
Wyoming Area was led by Bart Chupka with 16 points.
Crestwood 57, Pittston Area 49
Brady Gallagher and Chris Fazzini scored 17 points each as Crestwood defeated Pittston Area, 57-49, in a make-up game that was played February 9.
Mason Gross scored 14 points and James Tobsich 13 for the Patriots.
Crestwood opened a 17-7 lead after one quarter and the Patriots were unable to recover.
GAR opened an 18-point lead in the first quarter and rolled to an 83-49 win over Wyoming Area February 9.
Willy Winstead scored 21 points and Isaiah Francis added 17 for GAR, which led 26-8 after one quarter.
Bart Chupka led Wyoming Area with 13 points.
Valley West … 12-2
Pittston Area … 8-6
Tunkhannock … 7-7
Lake Lehman … 7-6
Holy Redeemer … 7-6
Wyoming Area … 2-11