It’s been a long time coming home for the Penn State York men’s basketball team.
Finally that time arrived Tuesday night.
Gym renovations displaced Parrish Petry’s squad for the entirety of the 2015-16 season. This season, however, the local Lions don't have to worry about traveling for home games anymore. With the gym renovations at the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center finished just before the outset of this season, Petry and his gang were eager to christen their reconditioned home digs when they faced Penn State Scranton-Worthington.
The excitement of playing their first home game in nearly a year and a half showed early on when the Lions raced out to a comfortable lead moments into action. While the visitors were able to close to within four points a couple of times in the second half, Penn State York was able to commemorate its new home debut with a satisfying 90-83 triumph.
“It feels good to be home,” Petry said. “I know the guys were really looking forward to it.”
Many of the players on Petry’s roster never played in the gym before the renovations began more than a year ago. While the size of the gym is the same, the court and walls all have a "Penn State" feel to them now.
“You can’t complain with the complex that we have right here,” Penn State York senior Lucas Jewell said. “They did a great job with it.”
Jewell is one of the few players on the squad who previously experienced the home atmosphere. He played on two Penn State University Athletic Conference championship squads that really took advantage of the home-court edge that Petry has worked hard to establish since taking over the program seven seasons ago. While the painting on the walls is fresh, the seating section on the side opposite of the team’s benches is still as close as it was before.
“The stands in here give us a different type of atmosphere,” said Jewell, who dished out an eye-popping 16 assists in the victory. “You don’t have the bleachers on both sides. Most college gyms are a lot bigger, but this is exciting, especially when you get a lot of people packing it in here.”
No one enjoyed the new digs more than former Red Lion High School standout Trent Thomas. Thomas poured in a game-high 35 points after converting on 15 of 24 shot attempts. Jonny Sutton, a former standout at Dallastown, chipped in 21 points to help York even its record at 2-2.
While the Lions enjoyed shooting in the new gym (37 of 75 shooting, 49.3 percent), Petry would like to see a little better effort on the defensive end. He knew that Scranton entered the night with a very heavy 3-point shooting squad, as evidenced by their average of nearly 45 shots from beyond the arc a contest.
The Yorkers limited the visitors to a season-low 24 attempts from outside the arc, but Scranton converted half of them.
Bryan Gallagher was particularly a nuisance. The Scranton standout knocked down five of his seven attempts en route to his 15 points.
Petry, Jewell and the rest of the Lions won’t have much time to bask in the glory of Tuesday’s victory. They travel to Virginia to take on Christendom at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.