WILKES-BARRE — Wyoming Seminary made sure the evolving two-horse race remained that way Friday night.
The Blue Knights used a big second quarter and withstood a Holy Redeemer rally attempt in the second half for a 46-41 victory that flipped the teams in the Division 3 standings in Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball.
Seminary (5-2 Div. 3, 10-3 overall) took over first place from Redeemer (4-2, 8-3) by a few percentage points. The two teams were the only ones with winning records in the division entering Friday’s schedule. Hanover Area had one victory, while Lake-Lehman, MMI Prep and Northwest were all winless in WVC play.
“You’re right. It would have been a challenge if we lost this one,” Seminary coach C.J. Kersey said. “We just try to focus on what we can control. We prepared well, and the guys had a great practice yesterday. Lucky it was good enough tonight, but we know we have a lot of tough games coming — not only Redeemer (on Feb. 6), but the rest our division is going to be a battle.”
Dimitri Gnall led Seminary in the key second quarter, scoring nine of his game-high 17 points as the Blue Knights outscored Redeemer 17-4 in those eight minutes. Jeremy Callahan put the final touches on the outburst with three free throws for a 28-16 lead.
“The second quarter there, we struggled a little and spotted them that lead they had at halftime,” said Redeemer coach Paul Guido, whose team shot 1 of 10 from the field in the second period. “I said to them at halftime in the locker room that halftime couldn’t come quick enough for us.
“We were struggling. We were doing a lot of east-to-west dribbling. Not attacking as much.”
Redeemer was able to slash the deficit to 35-30 by the end of the third quarter and cut it to 40-38 when Joey Judge turned a turnover into a layup with 3:11 remaining in the fourth.
“We knew they were going to come out with the first punch in the third,” Gnall said. “We knew it would be their toughest shot, and if we could handle that and power through that, limit the 3-pointers, we’d be good.”
The Royals, though, couldn’t overtake Seminary. Their first chance ended in a blocked shot by Todd Phillips. The second resulted in a missed 3-pointer that led to a short jumper by Phillips. The Blue Knights then bumped their lead to 46-38 on four consecutive free throws by Callahan.
“To be honest with you, we’ve struggled some with the lead in the second half,” Kersey said. “Redeemer really beared down and played really good defense. I thought we had some good looks that didn’t go in the hoop in the third quarter in particular.”
Redeemer also lost center Nick Prociak in the first quarter after a previous injury prevented him from continuing. Guard Bryce Yencha picked up some of the rebounding slack and finished with 11 boards. The Blue Knights were able to even things out under the boards as Gnall, Phillips and Nick Ganter all finished with seven rebounds.
Wyoming Seminary 46, Holy Redeemer 41
WYO. SEMINARY (46) — Tyler Maddock 1 0-1 3, Jake Koretz 2 0-0 5, Todd Phillips 3 0-0 6, Jeremy Callahan 1 8-11 10, Dimitri Gnall 8 1-2 17, Nick Ganter 1 3-7 5, Ethan Meuser 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 12-21 46.
HOLY REDEEMER (41) —Bryce Yencha 3 0-0 8, Derek Answini 0 0-0 0, Joey Judge 5 3-5 14, Eli Tucker 0 0-0 0, Jake Andonizio 0 0-00 , JD Turosky 2 1-2 5, Collin Cook 4 0-0 8, Sean Wills 1 0-0 3, Nick Prociak 1 0-0 3. Totals 16 4-7 41.
Three-point goals — WS 2 (Maddock, Koretz), HR 5 (Yencha 2, Judge, Wills, Prociak).
Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar