Young York College men's hoops squad falls to seasoned Widener Pride

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

While things haven’t gone the way the York College men’s basketball team was hoping this season, there is little sense around the squad that the problems plaguing the Spartans are ones that have no solution.

That’s because the York roster isn’t filled with upperclassmen. In fact, the Spartans are probably one of the youngest squads in the MAC Commonwealth, with 11 freshmen and sophomores combined.

So, it isn’t as much a lack of talent as it is experience that has been the primary concern this season. Facing a senior-laden Widener squad Saturday at Charles Wolf Gymnasium, the York men got another glimpse of how bright the future could be.

Unfortunately for coach Matt Hunter and his program, the key word in that last sentence was future.

The Spartans hung with the Pride throughout Saturday’s contest, but a handful of miscues prevented York from earning a much-needed triumph. A combined 16 turnovers with a difficult night shooting the ball doomed the Spartans, who dropped a 65-61 decision to Widener.

York College against Alvernia University during their mens basketball game in York on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

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“We just have to keep working to get better,” Hunter said. “And that’s our goal in any season. We just have to keep working each day with finding ways to improve.”

York’s only lead of the contest came on the opening bucket by Warwick grad Kai Cipalla 30 seconds into the clash. The Pride responded with a 7-0 run to take control, with York only able to get no closer than three points the rest of the way.

The good news is that the Spartans had their chances to fight back. Trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half, the York men found themselves down 41-28 at the intermission. Back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the second half drew the home team within seven points early.

After a layup by Xavier Ernest pushed the Widener advantage to 15 (55-41), the Spartans cut the lead to 59-54 with 4:10 left on the clock after a 3-pointer by Nick Schroeder. That triple was one of six that York connected on in the second half after making just one the entire first half.

Freshman Jayden Rowe buried another 3-pointer with 2:18 remaining to pull York within 61-57, but the experienced Pride squad closed out a triumph that improved their record to 10-4 overall and 5-2 in MAC Commonwealth action.

The setback marked the sixth defeat in conference play for the Spartans, as they fell to 7-9 overall and 1-6 in league play.

“Being inexperienced is part of the learning curve,” Hunter said. “Our guys are out there learning on the floor. Ultimately, there’s no better teacher than that. We’re learning to understand what each situation demands and each game and each play is a little bit different. There’s so much to learn so that’s ultimately what we’re focused on.”

The young, yet talented core that includes Rowe, Cipalla, Tate Landis and Jackson Mascari hope to be in the same position that Widener entered the contest a year or two from now. Cipalla, a Millersville transfer, finished with seven points and 12 rebounds while Mascari pulled down 10 rebounds to go with three points.

Tate Landis, right, and Kai Cipalla were teammates at Warwick High School in Lancaster County.

Landis, a teammate of Cipalla at Warwick two years ago, seems to have the traits of another York College men’s basketball standout — Central York grad Jared Wagner. As a ball-handling guard, Landis has showcased his ability to distribute the ball, play strong defense and come up with clutch rebounds and steals in his first collegiate season.

“Tate is a great competitor,” Hunter said. “He has some similarities with Jared in that toughness factor on the court and that will that Jared had. There’s certainly a lot of similarities.”

Women’s game — York 63, Widener 49: The Spartans dominated the Pride over the second and third periods, outscoring Widener by a 36-13 clip to earn a victory that ended a four-game losing streak.

York improved to 5-11 on the season while picking up MAC Commonwealth win No. 2.

The trio of Tori Geitner, Taylor Burda and Bradi Zumbrum combined for 52 of York’s 63 points in the triumph. Zumbrum, a Delone Catholic grad, tallied a double-double with 11 rebounds. Alyssa Hocker, a York Suburban grad, had a nice game with five points and five rebounds.