GRANTHAM — The York College men's basketball team was hit with several doses of adversity when the Spartans visited Messiah on Tuesday evening.
While they responded well to most of the problems in general, they were not able to overcome them all.
Down by 10 points — the biggest deficit York has faced so far this season — early in the second half, the Spartans rallied back behind a 24-14 run to even the contest with just under seven minutes remaining.
York even took the lead two times down the stretch, the final time coming after a Dalton Myers lay-in with 1:12 left in the contest. A tough intentional foul called against Mike Frauenheim, however, opened the door for the Falcons, who used a 6-0 run to over the final 32 seconds to claim a 76-71 triumph.
The setback marked the first loss of the season for Coach Matt Hunter’s squad, which fell to 4-1.
“You’re certainly not going to win every game,” Hunter said. “And not by 10-15 points either. We need to perform like this when we get into situations against really good teams. Hopefully next time we’ll execute just a little bit better.”
In his fourth season as the York coach, Hunter was admittedly disappointed with the call on Frauenheim, which came after the Falcons’ Micah Brown stole the ball near mid-court with his team trailing by a point. Brown raced down the court for a lay-up, but was grabbed by Frauenheim on his attempt.
“I think you just have to call that a (regular) foul,” Hunter said. “Everybody in the gym knows that (Brown) isn’t going to get that lay-up. (Mike) didn’t try to hurt the kid. It was a very safe play, so that’s a tough call in that situation.”
Brown, who led the Falcons with 18 points, made both free throws to put Messiah ahead 72-71 with 30.1 seconds left. The intentional foul call allowed the Falcons to keep possession of the ball underneath the basket, which forced York to quickly foul. The Spartans did so, sending former West York standout Luke Cable to the line, where he converted both attempts to push the lead to three points.
York had two chances to even the score in the waning seconds, but both Mike Duffy and Matt Scamuffo missed shots beyond the arc. Brown finished off the scoring with a lay-up with eight seconds left to close out a heart-breaking defeat for Hunter’s group.
“We got a wide-open shot from a shooter (Scamuffo) that made a ton of shots,” Hunter said. “He was playing really well, but it didn’t go in.”
Scamuffo played a big part in York’s comeback. The sophomore guard struggled in the first half shooting (1 for 8), but finished with a game-high 22 points, 18 of which came during a torrid second-half performance in which he hit 6 of 10 shots.
“He made shots, made some really good plays,” Hunter said. “Hit some shots and got some really big rebounds. He’s a really good player.”
Much like Scamuffo, the Spartans played arguably their worst half of the season to date over the game’s first 20 minutes. Hunter's team had trouble finding its rhythm against a game Messiah squad that entered the night mired in a two-game losing-streak. The Spartans, who came in shooting around 50 percent as a team, converted just a shade more than 40 percent of their shots in the half (11 for 27).
The fact that the visitors were able to keep things close despite that and eight first-half turnovers is a testament to Hunter's club. With the contest tied at 21-21, the hosts switched to a zone defense that helped immediately spark a 7-0 run. That advantage stretched to as much as nine (30-21) before York was able to claw back behind Dalton Myers, who scored 12 of his 19 points over the first 20 minutes, to draw within 35-31 at the break.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.