YORK, PA-The York College men’s basketball team captured the championship of the 2008 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic presented by Best Western as they defeated previously unbeaten Elizabethtown, 80-74, in the tournament’s championship game on Saturday evening at Wolf Gym. The Spartans, winners of a season-high four straight, are now 8-4 while the Blue Jays fall to 10-1. The loss snaps Elizabethtown’s 11 game win streak which was the longest active streak in the nation.
The contest had the feel of a big game from the opening tip and York responded to the big crowd by jumping out to a 16-6 lead just over six minutes into the game. The two teams traded threes to make the score 19-9 with 12:56 remaining in the half but then the Blue Jays scored 11 of the next 13 points to pull to within one at 21-20. York held onto the lead for another four minutes before a Chad Piersol lay up gave the guests a 30-29 lead. The remaining four minutes of the half featured four ties including the one final tie of the half as the squads headed to intermission deadlocked at 37.
The Blue Jays dominated the glass in the opening 20 minutes of play as they held a 24-15 edge in rebounding. That margin allowed Elizabethtown to hold a 13-4 advantage in second chance points in the half.
The second half proved to be the exact opposite as the Spartans came out of the break and pounded the backboards. Elizabethtown forged a brief 43-41 lead three minutes into the half but York’s Nick Brady (Hanover, PA/Delone Catholic) hit a triple with 16:04 remaining in the game to give York a lead they would not relinquish. The Spartans slowly built on the lead but every time York threatened a double figure lead, the Blue Jays would make a small spurt to pull the green and white back to them. The Spartan lead finally reached double figures with 1:38 left as sophomore Jeremy Keefer (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra) split a pair of free throws, giving York a 72-62 lead. Senior All-American Chad McGowan (Dallastown, PA/Dallastown) pushed the lead to 12 with a thunderous fast break dunk but Piersol hit a lay up to trim the lead back to 10. Keefer then gave Spartans’ a 13-point lead on a dunk and foul with 59 seconds left. The Blue Jays, much to their credit, did not go away without making life difficult on the Spartans. The Blue Jays received a lay up and three pointer from Mike Schatzmann, cutting the York lead to eight. After Brady split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left, Jordan Dirago split two free throws of his own as the lead remained at eight. Schatzmann then hit two free throws and a lay up to bring the Blue Jays to within four at 78-74 with nine seconds remaining. Senior Nate Lankford (York, PA/West York) iced the win for the Spartans with a pair of free throws with seven seconds left, providing for the final six point margin of victory.
The Spartans were very balanced in the game but McGowan stood out as he was named as the Tournament MVP. The senior had 21 points, a season-high 13 rebounds, a career-high five assists, a season-high four blocked shots and three steals in 36 big minutes. McGowan was 9-for-19 from the floor and 3-for-5 from the free throw line. Keefer added his first collegiate double-double with a career-high tying 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, nine of which came in the second half. Lankford contributed 13 points, three rebounds, three assists, and a trio of steals while Brady also had 12 points. Brady also had four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Senior Levi Winters (Manchester, PA/Northeastern), who earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, two blocked shots, an assist and a steal.
Schatzmann, who earned All-Tournament team honors, finished with a game-high 23 points while he also had six rebounds. Piersol added a double-double with 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Phil Schaffer pulled in eight rebounds, handed out a team-best five assists and collected a game-high five steals for the Blue Jays.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 43.5% from the floor but a cool 17.6% from three. The Blue Jays were held to a 38.2% accuracy mark from the floor including 27.3% from three. York doubled up the Blue Jays at the free throw line as they made 34 attempts to just 17 for Elizabethtown. The Spartans made 23 of their attempts while Elizabethtown canned just 10.
York finished the game with a 49-44 edge on the glass as they out-rebounded their guests 34-20 in the decisive second stanza.
The game closes out the Spartans’ non-conference schedule and they will jump back into conference play on Wednesday evening as they travel to St. Mary’s for a big conference tilt. Tip time in St. Mary’s City, MD is set for 8:00 pm.
Chad McGowan photograph courtesy of Eric Linsley.