York College lost to Hamilton College, 69-66, in the second round of the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
It’s not how it was supposed to end – a team’s special season coming to a close when its signature style abandons it in its time of need.
But that’s exactly what happened to the York College men’s basketball team Saturday night during their NCAA Division III tournament second-round contest with Hamilton College.
A high-powered offense that could devastate from deep suddenly couldn’t find its rhythm nor its range to muster another victory. Instead, it was Hamilton that left Charles Wolf Gymnasium with a 69-66 victory for that ended No. 11 York College’s season.
The win moves the No. 13 Continentals (24-4) into Friday’s Sweet 16 round against Springfield (20-8)
York (24-5) was making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history and now falls to 5-6 all-time in the tourney. A win would have put York in the Sweet 16 for the first time since reaching the Final Four in 2005.
“In a game of runs it was two really good teams, guys made plays on both ends,” Spartans head coach Matt Hunter said. “They made enough free throws to kind of keep us at bay there at the end, and we were unable to come up with that big shot to take the lead over the last couple of moments.”
Loss of range: The most glaring betrayal came in the closing seconds of the game as the Spartans tried to sustain their season. Trailing by two late, the ball found its way to York senior and Capital Athletic Conference first-team selection Blayde Reich.
Reich’s shot caromed off the iron and was controlled by Hamilton before the Continentals were sent to the line.
York got second life when the Continentals could only convert one of two free throws on the other end.
With 7.7 second remaining York’s Jared Wagner rushed the ball up the court and fellow guard Jason Bady cut to the left, and snuck behind as the defense closed on Wagner.
Bady slid open on the top of the left wing, and sent Wagner’s pass to the rim to no avail. The Continentals got the ball and finished off their triumph.
The back-to-back misses were part of a second half that saw the three-point game quit on the Spartans. The Spartans went 0 for 8 in the second half from deep. That came after York shot 6 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Offense sputters in second half: York had made a hallmark all season long of sporting scorching offense that always seemed to find a way to get the job done; even in the tightest of moments. Any time they shot over 45 percent for game, they won each time; 19 in total.
And it looked like the Spartans were going to showcase that stout offensive unit, one that led the Capital Athletic Conference in points scored and shooting percentage this year. They scored 40 first-half points on the strength of a 10 of 22 (45.5%) shooting performance.
Leading the way during that run Matt Scamuffo who dropped all 19 of his points on the night while keep York competitive as its guests tried to run away. Scamuffo knocked down four of eight attempts from beyond the arc during his scoring run.
“Yeah, we were stuck a little bit, they did a great job defensively. They did a really good job on our post guys inside, and obviously we throw the ball inside all the time,” Hunter said. “And maybe we didn’t move as much as we like and we kind of turned the ball over some. We still got the ball where we wanted to but we just didn’t have the kind of flow we like.”
Scamuffo would be bottled up and shut down during a second half that saw all the Spartans a bit more sluggish offensively. York would only make nine of its 27 attempts from the floor in the second half.
York was led by a game-high 20 points from Dalton Myers, who also had eight rebounds and two assists. The Central York grad Wagner did a little bit of everything, scoring 11 points and adding six assists, four steals and four rebounds.
Hamilton was led by a game-high 20 points from Kena Gilmour and also got 16 points from Tim Doyle.
Successful season ends: Saturday’s loss sees one of the most successful seasons in Spartans history come to a close.
The 2017-18 campaign saw York win more than 20 games for only the fifth time. The Spartans won a share of the Capital Athletic Conference regular-season title, their first since 2008, and won the conference’s tournament title for the first time since 2012.
On Friday, the Spartans picked up their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2006 and first in the Grumbacher Center.
Unfortunately, it will also see the departure of three of the school’s top 20 all-time scorers in Myers (9th at 1,499), Scamuffo (12th at 1,386) and Reich (20th at 1,143).
“What these guys meant to this program, it can't be put into words,” Hunter said of the group.