It might not have been the exact way the York College men’s basketball team expected to play in its return to the Capital Athletic Conference playoffs, but the Spartans will certainly take it.
After missing the event a season ago, the No. 3 seed Spartans came out Tuesday and secured a 102-91 victory over No. 6 Wesley.
The York women also earned a CAC home playoff win Tuesday, beating Frostburg, 72-62.
“Last time we played, it was much of the same, up and down,” Spartans head coach Matt Hunter said. “In the second half of that one, we were able to get separation, but in this second half, they were able to score as well. Not totally shocked by it, but I was hoping we would be better defensively.”
York advances to Thursday’s semifinals, when it will travel to No. 2 Salisbury. The 102 points were a season-high for the Spartans, in a game that featured a couple other milestones.
The game was a frantically-paced, back-and-forth battle that was tied nine different times and featured seven lead changes. York entered with a 72.2 points-per-game average.
Blayde Reich was an absolute force inside for the Spartans (17-9), scoring a career-high 28 points to go with five rebounds, five blocks and five assists. Reich was still given all he could handle from Wolverines big man Paul Clemons. The Wesley center registered 29 points and nine rebounds. Wesley fell to 10-16.
“Blayde’s a really good player, and he delivered tonight in a big way,” Hunter said. “Those are the type of efforts you need from your all-league caliber guys come playoff time.”
York had a season-high six players in double figures. Matt Scumaffo was one of the six, and his own personal milestone helped push the Spartans to victory. With 5:49 left in the second half, Scumaffo nailed a 3-pointer that pushed him past the 1,000-point mark for his York career. The basket also helped York extend its lead to 81-74.
Scumaffo finished with 16 points. Former York-Adams League players Darin Gordon (Spring Grove) and Jared Wagner (Central York) were also part of the offensive onslaught with 14 points each. York’s Zack Galic scored 15 points and Brad Wesner added 12.
“Winning is never easy,” Hunter said. “And then in the playoffs, everything is amped up that much more. It’s really important that we really understand there’s a lot more that goes into it.”
Women’s game: When York and Frostburg last met six days ago, the Spartan women had to overcome a slow start to complete the regular-season series sweep.
When Tuesday’s CAC playoff opener came around, No. 4 seeded York wasn’t about to let that happen again. The Spartans came out firing early en route to the win.
The Spartans (18-8) will next travel to tournament top seed Christopher Newport for a conference semifinal on Thursday. Frostburg fell to 12-14.
After leading by double digits for most of the contest, things tightened up for Spartans down the stretch. The No. 5 seed Bobcats, led by a game-high 27 points from Sharyce Warren, were able close within 63-60 with 6:46 to play. With the score too close for comfort, Spartans head coach Betsy Whitman called a timeout to calm her team.
“We just needed to settle down, execute and play like a team,” Witman said. “They really stepped it up on the defensive end. But once we got back to just using the shot clock and being patient on offense and strong with the ball, we were able to get high percentage shots at the end.”
After the pause, the teams traded multiple possessions and each garnered one basket before the game’s biggest shot. With 1:38 left to play, the Spartans patiently worked a possession before finding Sam Mocniak open just beyond the left-wing arc. Mocniak knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:38 left to play that pushed York’s lead to 68-62.
“That was a really gusty shot, she really stepped up, that’s how she can play,” Witman said.
Two former York-Adams players led the way for the Spartans. Red Lion grad Morgan Kuehne led York with 18 points. Susquehannock grad Katie Wagner added 16.
“The key was to all stick together. You’ve got to stay composed and know that know that even though it’s getting close we had control of that game and had to keep it.,” Kuehne said.
York's Sam Hruz recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“It’s a lot mentally (to prepare for),” Kuehne said of the impending matchup with the top seed. “Knowing that we can beat them and performing that way. We can’t go out and have an ordinary game. But I truly believe we can go out and beat CNU.”
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.