The dust has finally settled on a wild week of high school golf and the final Lackawanna League playoff pairings are now official.
Thanks to a frantic late season drive, Paupack has sealed the deal on the fourth and final seed among Big School squads.
Abington Heights holds the top spot with a perfect 9-0-0 record. Scranton Prep is #2 with a mark of 7-1-1, while Valley View owns the #3 spot at 6-2-1.
The Buckhorns, by virtue of a 6-3-0 finish and a head-to-head victory over Honesdale, rounds out the bracket at #4.
Paupack sealed the deal on its bid by dealing North Pocono a 5-4 loss Tuesday at Woodloch Springs.
"This was a total team effort," said Hall of Fame Coach Bob Simons. "I'm very proud of these kids. They really stepped up in key situations."
The Buckhorns next face the unenviable task of facing unbeaten Abington in Round One of the playoffs.
In addition, Paupack has been invited to play at the Hershey Invitational for a second straight year. The Bucks placed 5th in a field of 16 teams there last fall.
Action at the Hershey Country Club is slated for a 10 a.m. start Saturday.
Julia Santo and John Pillar Jr. paced the Paupack attack against North Pocono
Santo carded a 9-hole total of 38, good for a 3&2 decision over the Trojans Kyle Bowen (42).
Pillar was every bit as impressive, posting a 38 of his own and earning a 3&2 win against Rich Antonio.
Page 2 of 3 - "Those two kids are just playing steady golf," Coach Simons said. "Julia and John are very consistent out there match-in and match-out."
Senior Jon Doty and freshman Kyle Pillar both suffered hard-luck losses to their Trojan counterparts.
Doty shot 47 and dropped a 3&2 decision to Connor Knight (45). Pillar and North Pocono's Nick Mokey authored identical scores of 43, but wound up on the short end of a 1-down score.
The excitement for local links fans came courtesy of the first group, however.
There, Molly Mowatt and Rocco Scartelli staged a late-match rally that proved to be the ultimate difference for Paupack.
Mowatt battled her way to a 47 and a split of her individual match with Tyler Pittsman (47).
For his part, Scartelli waited until the final green to make his big move.
Rocco hit a beautiful approach to the par-4 ninth hole, then rolled in a clutch 5-foot birdie putt. This put the finishing touches on a round of 42 and enabled Scartelli to earn a split with Eric Woelkers (42).
Even more crucially, the birdie gave Paupack a 1-up win in better ball and swung the match in favor of the Buckhorns.
"How many times over the years have I told the kids how important better ball is?" Coach Simons mused. "Today, it was the difference between us making the playoffs and missing out."
Over & Out
Santo also dazzled during Friday's showdown with archrival Honesdale.
Paupack's resident Super-Soph carded a 37, tying for medalist honors with the Hornets' Ian Langendoerfer.
Santo's score was good enough for a 3&2 win over Alex Sandercock (43).
Page 3 of 3 - "Julia has just been so steady this season," Coach Simons said. "She had another tough match, but she never flinched. In my mind, Julia is one of the best high school golfers in the region."
John Pillar also turned in a solid performance in the win over Honesdale.
Paupack's talented junior carded a 39 on Woodloch Springs' front nine. In doing so, Pillar rolled to a 3&2 decision over the Hornets' Don McGinnis (47).
Scartelli also earned rave reviews from his mentor. Rocco jetted off to a quick start, winning the first three holes en route to a 4&3 romp over Hunter Thompson.
He also helped seal the deal on a crucial better ball point that gave Paupack a sweep in the first group.
"That was definitely a pleasant surprise," Coach Simons said. "Rocco really came through for us. His group got three quick points for us and that was big."
Mowatt was the other half of that Buckhorn group. Molly carded a 43 and dealt Honesdale's Owen Walsh a devastating 2&1 loss.
"I'm very proud of Molly," Coach Simons said.
"She really knuckled down and played a solid match. Owen is one of the better golfers around, so that's a big win for Molly."
Kyle Pillar rounded out the Paupack attack on this particular day.
An up & coming frosh, Pillar (45) battled Spencer Goyette (47) right to the final green before finally notching a 1-up win.
"For my money, that was the best match Kyle has played all season," Coach Simons said. "He started off a little bit shaky, but Kye is getting better all the time."