HAWLEY — Last year, Wallenpaupack Area's girls varsity basketball team was one of the truly pleasant surprises on the local winter sports scene.
The Lady Bucks battled their way to a 7-7 record in Lackawanna League Division One action and then made a deep run in the District Two tourney.
Under the direction of Coach Robin Scartelli, Paupack advanced to the Class AAAA title tilt before finally falling to perennial powerhouse Abinton.
Nevertheless, this runner-up finish earned the Lady Bucks a trip to the PIAA state playoffs and a slew of high expectations.
This weekend with rookie coach Adam Holtzer prowling the sidelines, Paupack made its 2012-'13 debut with two stellar performances at the 15th Annual Hawley Rotary Tip-Off Classic.
The Lady Bucks simply dominated both games en route to yet another tourney title.
Led by Alexix Roman, Paupack pounded Carbondale Area Friday night (52-28), then disposed of East Stroudsburg Notre Dame in Saturday's championship game (64-35).
"Our motto this season is 'all in' and that's the way these girls played," Coach Holtzer said.
"We left everything out there on the court and that's what I want to see every single game. I'm very happy to start off the season like this winning the Rotary Tournament."
Paupack won't have much time to bask in the glow of this latest title, though. The Lady Bucks hit the road on Thursday night for a game at Montrose.
Opening tip for the varsity contest is slated for approximately 7:30 p.m.
Power in the Post
In years past, Roman has made the Hawley Rotary Tournament her personal showcase.
Page 2 of 3 - This time around, she was every bit as impressive at both ends of the floor. The battle-tested senior center set the tone early against a scrappy but outgunned Carbondale squad.
Alexix dominated the low post, having her way with a trio of Chargerette defenders en route to the first of two double-doubles.
Roman muscled her way to 11 points and hauled in 15 rebounds as Paupack rolled to an easy win.
"Alexix works so hard on the court," Coach Holtzer said. "I've never seen a player have such an impact on the defense even when she doesn't have the ball."
All the attention Roman attracted served to free up several of her teammates, which in turn spelled doom for Carbondale Area.
Danielle Palazzi led the perimeter shooting barrage with three long-distance treys and a total of 13 points.
Bridgette Mann ignited Paupack's deadly transition game, sprinting to a team-best 15 points.
Nicki Mann (nine points), Paige Hiller (two) and Irene Dispenza (two) rounded out the Lady Buck scoring.
Notre Dame defeated a scrappy Western Wayne squad in the other semi, but the Spartans were no match for Paupack in the title tilt.
The Lady Bucks wasted no time in building an early lead before a big, boisterous home crowd. Coach Holtzer's girls dominated the first quarter, 15-5, then put the game out of reach with a 15-6 second.
Roman was once again at the heart of Paupack's offensive attack. Alexix simply overpowered Notre Dame defenders, pouring in 30 points and piling up 15 more rebounds en route to tournament MVP honors.
"Last night and tonight, they threw just about every defense imaginable at Alexix and nothing slowed her down," Coach Holtzer said. "She's very deserving of being the MVP."
Page 3 of 3 - Bridgette Mann and Hiller joined Roman on the mythical All-Tourney Team.
Mann once again dazzled in the backcourt. Bridgette used an explosive first step and lightning quick moves to score 13 points in the championship game.
"I just can't say enough about Bridgette," Coach Holtzer said. "She's always in the gym and always works hard. Bridgette played on two AAU travel teams this summer and that hard work is paying off."
Hiller is one of Paupack's most unselfish players.
One of just four seniors on the roster, Paige excels defensively, but made her presence felt in a big way at the offensive end. She buried a pair of treys in the win over Notre Dame and finished with 12 points.
"Paige has always been a very good defensive player, but I think some people are going to be shocked when they see the kind of numbers she can put up on offense," Coach Holtzer said. "I'm expecting big things from Paige this season."
Nicki Mann contributed five points to the cause against Notre Dame. Irene Dispenza and Raeann Ehrhardt closed out the stats with two apiece.
Score by Quarters...
WA (2-0) 15 15 24 10 – 64
ND (1-1) 5 6 11 13 – 35