First Posted: 2/22/2012
CHAPMAN LAKE – The same names tend to pop up at or near the top of the Lackawanna League basketball standings year after year.
The Lakeland boys proved this season that new faces can emerge.
A program that struggled through a combined 1-27 league record as a Division 2 member in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons developed into a Division 3 champion.
Lakeland arrived at the top with back-to-back key wins over defending champion Montrose in a span of four days this week.
First, the Chiefs avoided a second-half playoff by handling an injury-riddled Meteors team, 49-30, at home in the Feb. 14 regular-season finale.
That victory meant Lakeland needed only one more win over first-half champion Montrose to take the all-season title.
The championship came Feb. 17 at Mountain View in Lakeland's 59-48 victory over the Meteors, who got two starters back in the lineup from ankle injuries.
"We've been kind of grooming these kids since their freshman year," Lakeland coach Dave Rosenkrans said after Tuesday's win, which he called "the culmination of a lot of hard work."
Current juniors Kyle Kiehart, Eric Grabowski, and Tyler Brady stepped in as freshmen on the team that went 1-13 two years ago. They joined the current senior class of Alex Filarsky, Mike Striefsky, Ryan Nichols and J.J. Rojenches in creating an athletic seven-man rotation.
That athleticism created a pressure defense that made six steals while scoring the final 16 points of the first half for a 28-15 lead at the break Feb. 14.
"We've been emphasizing to the kids all year: defense, defense, defense," Rosenkrans said.
The Meteors were prepared to offer a bigger challenge Friday and the game was tied at halftime.
Kiehart led the way as the Chiefs broke the game open. He finished with 27 points.
Filarsky had two 3-pointers in the streak to end the first half Tuesday night and scored a team-high 15 points in that win. Grabowski contributed six steals and five assists.
Lakeland was just 6-8 in Division 3 last season.
The Chiefs will take on Holy Cross at Carbondale High School Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m.