On Thursday evening, in front of the most enthusiastic crowd of the season, the Wallenpaupack Area boys basketball team kept pace with Scranton Prep through four quarters, only to fall in the first overtime period 54-51.


On Thursday evening, in front of the most enthusiastic crowd of the season, the Wallenpaupack Area boys basketball team kept pace with Scranton Prep through four quarters, only to fall in the first overtime period 54-51.

The Bucks are still looking for that elusive Lackawanna League Division One first win, but are 4-9 overall, including a runner-up finish at the Honesdale Jaycees Tournament.

“It’s not like this is the end of the road for Wallenpaupack,” head coach Rich McGinnis told the News Eagle.

“I think for the first time since the West Scranton game, we got back to the bar that we set pretty high. The only way we are going to get over it is by playing in close games.”

Off and Running
The Bucks finished the first quarter on a three-point run, with 6’4” center Will McLaughlin converting one of two from the charity stripe, and sophomore sensation Jake Brown picking a Prep player’s pocket, dribbling through a myriad of Cavalier defenders and hitting McLaughlin, who finished off a 10-foot jumper to make it a one-point advantage, 9-8, for the Purple Pack.

In the second, the Bucks kept the momentum rolling and racked up eight straight points on four from McLaughlin, one from Alex Molt, and a trey from Isaiah Slutter, before Prep responded at the 3:15 mark and went on an eight point run of their own.

Brown kept the lead intact when he went 2 for 2 from the line, and the Bucks took a 20-16 lead into the locker room for intermission.

The four-point advantage was erased by Prep in the third as they outscore the Bucks by four, to make it 33-33 heading into the final eight minutes of regulation.

“Offensively we came out in the second half and struggled a little bit at points,” said McGinnis. “But, I don’t think it snowballed like it has in other games, where two or three minutes, became seven or eight minutes.”

Frenzy in the Fourth
With the scoreboard teetering back and forth through most of the final quarter of regulation, the Bucks found themselves trailing by three with less than a minute left on the clock.

Then Brown drained one from long distance to knot the score at 44 all, sending the Buckhorn Pride into a deafening roar, by far the loudest the Purple Palace has been in quite some time.

Prep’s Nick Healey calmed the fanatical fans though just six seconds later when he dropped one in off the glass from six feet out, and James Fives connected on 1 of 2 from the charity stripe to put the Cavs up by three with 23.6 seconds left in the game.

It was Brown again who answered the call.

With time winding down, the 5’7” guard pulled up from the left side of the court, well beyond the three point line, and launched the rock. The crowd singing the forever chant of “He’s a Sophomore”  was enough to notify Prep that the ball kissed the twine as the swish sound was drawn out by the cheers.

The decibel level was high in the gym, and Prep, as well as a sturdy Buckhorn defense forced a turnover, and got the ball back with 13.3 seconds.

Prep answered and clogged up the middle, leaving no room for Brown to roam, eventually forcing a shot that rattled off the iron.

“If I could go back, I would have spread that play out more to give Jake a little more room for creativity,” McGinnis said.  “We trust Jake, and if he gets doubled up, we know he’ll find the open guy.”

Heartbreaking Overtime
With emotions still running high, the Bucks jumped out to a quick two-point lead when Slutter hit an 11-foot jumper.

McLaughlin added two more when he drained a turn-around jumper, and the Bucks had a four-point lead with 2:20 left in the game.

It went downhill from there for the Buckhorn Faithful.
Prep scored seven unanswered points to end the game with a 55-51 victory.

“I thought that our shot selection wasn’t the best in overtime,” said McGinnis. They went man-to-man for all of overtime, and I think that confused us in terms of being able to get in a rhythm.

“We have to learn from this and move on.”

Brown finished with a game-high 16 points. McLaughlin collected 12, Slutter with 11, Chris Schneider had four, Joe Nacinovich and Jake Stevens each chipped in three points apiece. Alex Molt rounded out the Buckhorn scoring with two.

Healey paced Prep in scoring with 14.

Score By Quarters…
WA (0-6, 4-9) 9 11 13 14 4 – 51
SP (2-4, 4-9) 8 8 17 14 7 - 54