WRIGHT TWP. — Even when Dallas crept back into the game — even tying it late in the third quarter — Crestwood never panicked Thursday night. Neither did the Comets’ coach Mark Atherton.
That is the type of attitude Dallas hopes to achieve sooner than later.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Kyle Gegaris and Robbie Hopkins in the third quarter provided the boost Crestwood needed as it eventually pulled away from Dallas for a 52-32 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 boys basketball game.
Hopkins scored a game-high 15 points as Crestwood improved to 9-2 in Division 1 and 14-5 overall. Dallas fell to 4-7 in the division and 7-12 overall.
Crestwood entered off a 55-48 loss to Hazleton Area on Tuesday that essentially ended its chances to repeat as divisional champions. The Comets, though, are still trying to secure a high seed in the District 2 Class 3A playoffs that start Feb. 16. The win helped the cause.
“It was tough because we knew we were right there and battled (Hazleton Area) to the end,” Hopkins said. “Our legs were tired and to come out today and play another game was tough. But we battled through it.”
Dallas entered one game out of eighth place in the D2-3A standings, a spot which locks in a home playoff game. A loss by Coughlin on Thursday helped; a win by Wyoming Area didn’t.
“We’re young,” Dallas coach Mark Belenski said. “Good teams are consistent, good players are consistent and we’re fighting to be consistent.”
The consistency battle was obvious late in the first quarter and into the second. Dallas went over eight minutes without a field goal, allowing Crestwood to take a 17-9 lead. The Comets, though, got sloppy and committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions.
The miscues allowed the Mountaineers to fight back as Alex Charlton’s 3-pointer triggered a 10-2 run. Tanner Gattuso netted two free throws with 1:48 left until halftime, tying the score at 19-19. Crestwood took a 21-19 lead into halftime on a pair of free throws by Lance Blass.
“At halftime, I didn’t have to come in (and say anything),” Atherton said. “We just put up two numbers on the board — our foul shooting and our turnovers. That’s what cost us at Hazleton. So we did that and I think our guys got the message and we did a better job in the second half.”
Crestwood had five turnovers in the second quarter, but only four the entire second half. Hopkins got hot from the field in the third quarter, and Gegaris did the same to start the fourth as the Comets opened their advantage to 41-29 with 6:27 remaining.
Meanwhile, Dallas had turnover issues in the third and fourth quarters. The offense, which was strong in the second quarter, reverted to the unsteadiness of the first quarter.
“We’re struggling with scoring,” said Belenski, whose team shot 5 of 15 in the second half. “They know what they have to do, but they can’t figure it out. They’re actually trying too hard. The kids, I love their effort. It’s a matter of gaining confidence. Like (Crestwood). They held the ball, they held the ball, they get a layup.”
Experience, both coaches said, was a big part of it. Crestwood started four seniors and Blass, a junior with ample varsity experience. Dallas used one senior all night.
Crestwood’s Mendell Foreman, who sealed the game with a couple baskets late, finished with 10 points. Tanner Gattuso and Joey Parsons had six each for Dallas.
Crestwood 52, Dallas 32
DALLAS (32) — Collin Pertl 2 0-1 5, Mason Gattuso 1 0-0 2, Nick Kocher 0 2-3 2, Dalton Gattuso 0 0-0 0, Tanner Gattuso 2 2-2 6, Ben Donahue 1 1-2 3, Alex Charlton 1 0-0 3, Jay Bittner 2 1-1 5, Joey Parsons 2 2-3 6, Ethan Szczencinski 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 8-11 32.
CRESTWOOD (52) — Robbie Hopkins 5 0-1 15, Kyle Gegaris 3 0-0 8, Lance Blass 1 3-6 5, Jason Klusewitz 1 2-2 5, Kevin Klusewitz 0 2-3 2, Kyle Richards 0 0-0 0, Tim McCue 2 0-0 5, Mendell Foreman 4 2-2 10, Josh Malkemes 0 2-2 2, Matt Andrews 0 0-0 0, Noah Jackson 0 0-0 0, Brandon Schmidt 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 6-11 52.
Three-point goals — DAL 2 (Pertl, Charlton), CRE 7 (Hopkins 3, Gegaris 2, J.Klusewitz, McCue).
Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar