Dallas defeats Lower Dauphin in 5A opener

By John Erzar - jerzar@timesleader.com
Dallas’ Jay Bittner finds an open shot against Lower Dauphin’s Brian Swist (44), Jackson Becher (21) and Will Bowen (2) during the first round of the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball tournament Friday at Wyoming Area Secondary Center. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Dallas’ Matt Mathers (center) fights through the coverage of Lower Dauphin’s Ryan Becher (24) and Will Bowen (2) during Friday’s PIAA tournament game. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Dallas’ Jay Bittner weaves through Lower Dauphin players during Friday’s game in Exeter. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

EXETER — This guy one game. Somebody else the next game. Maybe another fella the game after that.

Dallas’ ability to have a go-to guy du jour is what has made the Dallas Mountaineers a dangerous team all season.

Friday was Joey Parsons’ turn for the lead role as he awakened a stagnant offense in the third quarter with three 3-pointers as Dallas defeated Lower Dauphin 70-54 in a PIAA Class 5A boys basketball first-round game at Wyoming Area Secondary Center.

District 2 runner-up Dallas (21-5) will take on D11 champion Allentown Central Catholic (24-4) on Tuesday in the second round at a site and time to be announced. ACC defeated D3 seventh seed Greencastle-Antrim 69-52.

Parsons finished with 18 points. Jay Bittner had a team-high 19, closing out the game on the foul line where the Mountaineers shot 31 free throws compared to 14 by Lower Dauphin. Alex Charlton and Matt Mathers had 12 each.

Two aspects that cost Dallas against Abington Heights in the District 2 title game reared their heads in the first half.

A bigger Lower Dauphin team, led by center Will Bowen, controlled the boards early. Dallas was able to even things out in the second quarter.

“I was worried early,” Dallas coach Mark Belenski said. “We learned from last week we have to rebound and I thought we did a great job. I think they (the Falcons) had very few offensive rebounds. Against a big team, kudos to my guys. They woke up and played well tonight.”

But the second quarter brought poor shooting, as Dallas hit just 2 of 18 attempts from the field, yet was able to sneak into halftime with a 24-23 lead. Parsons changed that with his 3-pointers, allowing Dallas to start to tilt the momentum and build its lead to as high as eight.

“I think it’s a testament to my teammates,” said Parsons, one of five senior starters. “Good movement, we were driving the gaps and kicking it out and I was getting some wide-open looks. I was just able to knock some down some good looks thanks to some good passes from my teammates.”

Meanwhile, D3 fourth seed Lower Dauphin (19-8) pounded the ball inside to Bowen, who closed out the third with a couple inside baskets to move the Falcons within 45-41.

Dallas, though, blasted off on an 8-0 run to start the fourth, with Jack Farrell tossing in a rebound for the final points and a 53-41 lead. Farrell, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, crashed the glass for nine rebounds. Bittner led Dallas with 10 boards for a double-double.

While Lower Dauphin found success going inside to Bowen, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, the Falcons failed to get him the ball in the fourth quarter. Instead, they launched a series of off-the-mark 3-pointers although a 3-pointer by Casey Caruso was able to cut the deficit to 58-52 with 3:11 to play.

Mathers, though, scored four consecutive points to allow the Mountaineers to bump the lead back to double digits.

“We didn’t know much about them,” Bittner said. “We knew they had some big bodies, they had the Caruso kid who could really shoot it. Other than that, we didn’t know much about them. That was concerning but also kind of nice because they didn’t know much about us.”

CLASS 4A

Bethlehem Catholic 71, Nanticoke Area 30

The District 11 champion Hawks jumped out to a 19-3 lead after one quarter and never lost control in a first-round state victory over the Trojans. Becahi held Nanticoke Area to just six first-half points and hit 11 3-pointers in the win, getting points from 12 different players.

Leading the Trojans was Nate Kreitzer, who scored 20 of the team’s 30 points, knocking down five threes.

Nanticoke’s season ended at 20-6. The Hawks (26-3) advanced to play District 12 runner-up Conwell-Egan in Tuesday’s second round.

PIAA Class 5A First Round

Dallas 70, Lower Dauphin 54

LOWER DAUPHIN (54) — Casey Caruso 5 0-0 14, Will Bowen 10 1-2 21, Luke Hedrick 2 3-4 9, Jackson Becher 0 2-2 2, Ryan Becher 1 0-0 2, Brian Swist 0 0-0 0, Blake Cassell 0 0-0 0, Kyle Korczynski 2 0-3 4, Josh Saufley 1 0-1 2, Nischal Adhikari 0 0-0 0, Caleb Gibbs 0 0-0 0, Kevin Perales 0 0-0 0, Kobe Petrovich 0 0-0 0, Tyson Hofsass 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 6-14 54.

DALLAS (70) — Alex Charlton 5 2-2 12, Nick Kocher 0 0-1 0, Joey Parsons 6 1-2 18, Matt Mathers 3 6-8 12, Jay Bittner 5 11-15 19, Brody Strickland 2 1-2 5, Jack Farrell 2 0-0 4, Ben O’Connell 0 0-1 0, Mike Caravaggio 0 0-0 0, Steven Finarelli 0 0-0 0, Andrew Kovalick 0 0-0 0, Dylan Schuster 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 21-31 70.

Lower Dauphin`17`6`18`13 — 54

Dallas`18`6`21`25 — 70

Three-point goals — LD 7 (Caruso 5, Hedrick 2), DAL 5 (Parsons 5).

PIAA Class 4A First Round

Bethlehem Catholic 71, Nanticoke Area 30

NANTICOKE AREA (30) — Nate Kreitzer 7 1-4 20, Colby Butczynski 1 0-0 2, Trahjan Krupinski 1 0-0 3, Jake Krupinski 0 1-2 1, Dylan Szychowski 0 0-0 0, Joe Bielecki 0 2-2 2, Collin Brown 0 0-0 0, John Chernowsky 0 0-0 0, Luke Myers 1 0-1 2, Andy Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, Tyler Rushton 0 0-0 0, Joe Fox 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 4-9 30.

BETHLEHEM CATHOLIC (71) — DeAndre Gardner 4 0-0 12, Kyle Young 4 1-1 9, Scott Kuna 3 0-0 8, Ryan Young 2 3-4 7, Justin Paz 4 3-3 14, Caden Giordano 1 0-0 2, Daemon Robinson 0 0-0 0, Ryan Santana 1 2-2 5, Kenny Bell 1 2-2 4, Julian Thomas 0 2-2 2, Dominic Italiani 1 0-0 2, Anthony Indelicato 1 1-1 3. Totals 23 14-15 71.

Nanticoke`3`3`13`11 — 30

Becahi`19`14`28`10 — 71

Three-point goals — NAN 6 (Kreitzer 5, T. Krupinski); BC 11 (Gardner 4, Paz 3, Kuna 2, R. Santana, B. Santana)

Dallas’ Jay Bittner finds an open shot against Lower Dauphin’s Brian Swist (44), Jackson Becher (21) and Will Bowen (2) during the first round of the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball tournament Friday at Wyoming Area Secondary Center.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031018HSBBDallasLD1.jpgDallas’ Jay Bittner finds an open shot against Lower Dauphin’s Brian Swist (44), Jackson Becher (21) and Will Bowen (2) during the first round of the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball tournament Friday at Wyoming Area Secondary Center. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Dallas’ Matt Mathers (center) fights through the coverage of Lower Dauphin’s Ryan Becher (24) and Will Bowen (2) during Friday’s PIAA tournament game.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031018HSBBDallasLD2.jpgDallas’ Matt Mathers (center) fights through the coverage of Lower Dauphin’s Ryan Becher (24) and Will Bowen (2) during Friday’s PIAA tournament game. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Dallas’ Jay Bittner weaves through Lower Dauphin players during Friday’s game in Exeter.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031018HSBBDallasLD3.jpgDallas’ Jay Bittner weaves through Lower Dauphin players during Friday’s game in Exeter. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By John Erzar

jerzar@timesleader.com

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar