After two weeks of games not figuring into the Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball division races, the teams finally get into conference play this week.
The WVC regular season was set to start on Friday, but four games have been moved to Thursday. The other four remain on Friday.
The league then takes a break until Jan. 3, but the teams don’t. Most of them will be busy over the holidays with non-conference games. Those games, though, count toward the District 2 playoffs.
Division 1 Overview
Either Hazleton Area or Crestwood has won nine of the last 10 Division 1 championships. Hazleton Area goes for a three-peat and has an excellent chance of accomplishing it.
Hazleton Area should be strong again, with the point guard the only opening in the lineup. Crestwood should be next in line, although the Comets lost four starters. Dallas brings back a solid group and could figure into the divisional picture.
Pittston Area will likely slot behind those three. Coughlin and Wyoming Valley West were hit hard by graduation, so a shot at the division seems unlikely.
Division 1 teams play each other twice and cross over with Division 2 teams once for a 16-game regular season.
Division 2 Overview
This could be the most competitive division in recent WVC history. Not much separates all six teams. An argument can be made for any of them finishing first … or last.
Defending champ Meyers returns Times Leader Player of the Year Jawane Buckner, but the slick guard will be surrounded by new starters. GAR and Nanticoke also have excellent guards — GAR with Will Johnson and Nanticoke with Nate Kreitzer — who will lead their teams.
Berwick’s backcourt is loaded, but there are some questions in the paint. Wyoming Area returns a nucleus of players that can make some noise. But the biggest jump could be made by Tunkhannock.
The Tigers finished in last place last season and in last place in a nine-team Division 1 in 2015-16, but with a strong group returning many coaches have points to Tunkhannock as the possible divisional frontrunner.
Division 2 teams played every WVC team once for 17 conference games.
Division 3 Overview
Holy Redeemer is favored to defending its divisional championship, with Wyoming Seminary expected to be the Royals’ biggest concern.
Northwest has been building the past two seasons, but might be a year away from contention. MMI Prep should improve and for the first time the Preppers have some size inside. Hanover Area and Lake-Lehman are likely too inexperienced to battle for the top spot.
The Division 3 teams play each other twice and play Division 2 teams once for a 16-game regular-season.