Basketball can be a cruel, cruel game sometimes.
And despite one of the more successful seasons in program history, the Penn State York men’s basketball team found that lesson out the hard way this year.
The sixth-seeded local Lions dropped an 80-76 overtime decision to top-seeded Berkeley College (New YOrk) in the championship game of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II tournament on Saturday. The multiple-day tournament took place on the campus of Penn State Fayette.
York was trying to slay a giant, as the Knights entered the game as two-time defending USCAA champions and riding a 52-game winning streak.
With the defeat, Penn State York finishes with a 21-8 record. The Knights finished with a perfect 29-0 mark.
The local Lions were led by Red Lion grad Trent Thomas, who put on the tournament’s best performance by going off for a game-high 40 points. Thomas shot 17 of 25 from the floor, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out a pair of assists.
Susquehannock grad Richard Grant was 7 of 12 from the floor for 18 points. He also had nine rebounds and blocked three shots.
York led this one late, 69-67, with 12 seconds left before wisely using the fouls they had left to give before the bonus in order to trim the clock down to four second remaining.
After the second foul, the Knights’ Massiah Merritt caught the inbound pass at the top of the key. He then took a quick dribble to his right before nailing a step-back jumper with just 0.9 seconds left in regulation, making the score 69-69.
As the Lions were inbounding the ball for what would have been a desperation, full-court heave, Berkeley’s Stephon Jennings was whistled for a foul on York’s Lucas Jewell. The infraction sent Jewell to the free throw line for a one-and-one with 0.9 left.
Jewell missed the front end, but collected his own rebound and drew yet another foul. This time Jewell was back at the line for a one-and-one with 0.3 seconds remaining.
However, Jewell missed again and the contest went into the extra session at 69-69.
In OT, the Knights quickly raced out to a 75-70 lead early before the Lions would trim that margin to 78-76 with 1:17 left play. But that was as close as the Lions would get.
The loss was the second heart-breaker in a title game for York this season.
Earlier in the year, the Lions dropped the PSUAC championship tilt to Penn State Greater Allegheny in similar fashion.
Trailing G-A by two points with 7.9 seconds left, Thomas missed a shot at the victory but drew a foul with a chance to even up the score with just one second left.
However, Thomas missed the first free throw and, after a timeout, missed again. His teammates couldn't get a tip to tie it before the buzzer sounded, giving Allegheny the win.
OTHER COLLEGE NOTES
York College softball sweeps CAC awards: York College sophomore Joanna Marmo and junior Melissa Jurkiewicz swept the Capital Athletic Conference softball weekly awards recently.
Marmo takes home CAC Player of the Week honors after hitting .550 (11-for-20) and leading the Spartans to seven wins in eight games during the second half of their spring break trip to Clermont, Florida. Jurkiewicz earned a CAC Pitcher of the Week nod after going 4-1 last week with a 0.58 ERA in 24.1 innings.
Marmo went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI in the Tuesday win over Finlandia. She next posted a 4 for 4 effort with three runs scored, three doubles and three RBIs in a 6-0 win over Northwestern (Minnesota). She kept the beat going in the win over Brandywine as she was 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Marmo closed out the trip with two hits and a run scored in the win over Nebraska Wesleyan.
For the season, Marmo is hitting .531 with 11 runs scored, seven RBI, six doubles and a .719 slugging percentage.
Mortimer chosen as Pitcher of the Week: York College senior right-handed pitcher Elliot Mortimer was recently named the Capital Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for the week ending on March 5.
Mortimer opened the 2017 York College season with seven shutout innings in the Spartans' win over Johnson & Wales. Mortimer allowed one hit, struck out 10 and walked a pair.
Mortimer, who is working his way back from an injury that cost him almost the entire 2016 season, did not allow a hit until there were two outs in the top of the seventh inning.