After suffering a blowout loss at the hands of Scranton on Saturday, Honesdale's freshmen boys basketball team had arrived at an early season crossroads.
"It was definitely gut-check time," veteran head Coach Maria West said.
"We lost 70-32 and one of two things could've happened. We'd either lick our wounds or we'd use it as motivation and bounce back strong."
On Wednesday afternoon at the Red Palace, the young Hornets made their choice and took a stand.
They were aggressive, hustled and played with passion from opening tip to final whistle against a very good North Pocono squad.
The result was a hard-fought 49-40 Lackawanna League victory.
"I'm very proud of them," a smiling Coach West said afterward. "They had some pretty serious questions that needed to be answered and they did. These kids stepped up and played with a lot of heart today."
With this win, Honesdale improved its overall record to 4-3 on the year. The Hornet frosh are now 1-1 in regular season action.
Coach West's squad will be back on the hardwood Friday afternoon at home against archrival Wallenpaupack Area.
Opening tip is slated for 4 p.m. at the middle school gym.
Honesdale raced out to an early lead Wednesday versus North Pocono.
Thanks in large part to the potent 1-2 punch of Mark Ambrose and Jack Rickard, the Red & Black led by four points after one and five at intermission.
Ambrose dominated play in the paint, despite being matched up for most of the game with one of the area's top young players.
Page 2 of 3 - Wesley Simons, son of Wayne Area Sports Hall of Famer Wes Simons, is an eighth grader already playing his second season for North Pocono's freshmen team.
A 6' 2" center, Simons had led the Trojans to a 5-1 record in their first six games. In fact, Wesley had been averaging a double-double at 14 points and 11 rebounds per outing.
Against Honesdale, though, Simons struggled with foul trouble right from the get-go. He still managed to post another double-double with 22 points and 13 boards. However, he missed a large portion of the game and was on the bench for good 2:45 left in regulation.
Ambrose was a major reason for Simons' early exit.
Mark attacked his counterpart relentlessly on offense drawing one foul after another and dazzling at the free throw line. He drained 15-of-17 attempts (88%), finished up with a team-high 17 points and earned rave reviews from his mentor.
"Mark did exactly what we asked him to," Coach West said. "He went right at Simons just about every time he got the ball in his hands. Mark played an outstanding game."
Down the Stretch
While Ambrose and Simons duking it out in the low post, Rickard did his damage from the perimeter and in transition.
Jack ran the floor with abandon, slashed his way through North Pocono's various defenses and wound up with 15 points.
The highlights of Rickard's performance came early in the third quarter. Jack picked off two Trojan passes and went coast-to-coast with each, finishing with a pair of acrobatic fastbreak lay-ups.
"Jack still has some growing to do, but he's really becoming a very complete player" Coach West said. "Jack has great vision. He sees the court so well, he handles the ball so well, and he's not afraid to attack the basket"
Despite the best efforts of Ambrose and Rickard, North Pocono whittled Honesdale's lead down to a single possession. However, once Simons fouled out, the Hornets finally began pulling away.
Page 3 of 3 - Dan Figura had a big hand in this final surge, scoring five of his seven points in the waning moments of regulation.
"Defensively, Danny is steady and very smart," said Coach West. "We've been trying to get him to be more of an offensive threat and today he really was. Danny is definitely one of our team leaders and I was happy to see him make a couple of big shots."
The biggest of those shots came when the game was still very much in question. Figura squared up and drained a deep trey late in the fourth quarter.
Tyler McConnell contributed five points to Honesdale's cause, while Konnor Burke rounded out the scoring with a pair of free throws.
Score by Quarters...
HON (4-3) 13 11 9 16 - 49
NP (5-2) 9 10 11 10 - 40