Spartans Stun St. Mary's in OT

YORK, PA – A trio of 20-point efforts, clutch free throw shooting, and gritty play combined to lift the York College men’s basketball team to a 101-97 overtime victory Wednesday night over visiting St. Mary’s College of Maryland. The Spartans, who posted 100 points for the second time this season, move to 4-11 and 2-4 in the Capital Athletic Conference while the Seahawks receive their first conference loss and fall to 11-3 and 4-1 in the league.
     With the score knotted at 83 at the end of regulation, freshman guard Julian Watson (Odenton, Md./Arundel) and junior forward Jeremy Keefer (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra) simply took over the overtime period for the Spartans. The pair scored a total of 15 points in the five-minute extra session on a combined 4-for-5 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
     Watson opened the overtime scoring with a traditional three-point play to give York an 86-83 lead. After both teams traded lay-ups on the next two possessions, Keefer went on a 5-0 run of his own. The junior converted another traditional three-point play before scoring a jumper in the paint to stretch the lead to 93-87 with 2:19 remaining.
     The Spartan advantage ballooned to as much as nine at 98-89 with 1:23 showing on the overtime clock. York then had to survive a furious Seahawk comeback.
     St. Mary’s Ben Biber tallied four straight points to cut the lead to 98-93 before Camontae Griffin tallied two of his game-high 27 on a layup with 26 seconds left.
     Keefer then effectively iced the contest by dropping in a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left to push the score to 100-95. A Biber lay up and Watson free throw would add the final three points to the scoreboard as York secured the CAC victory.
     Despite trailing for a majority of the first half, the Spartans were able to hang around with the supremely athletic Seahawks and found themselves down only two, 37-35, at the half.
     With 15:13 remaining in the second stanza, the Spartans embarked on a 9-0 run to take a lead they would not give back for the rest of the game, save for a pair of ties. Senior guard Mike Riley (Webster, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit), who canned three triples over a 2:36 stretch in the second half, gave the Spartans a 49-47 lead and the momentum with a trey at the 14:10 mark.
     York used clutch free-throw shooting over regulation’s final 9:53 to keep their slight advantage. Five different Spartans made trips to the stripe and went a combined 9-for-10 over that period.
     The Spartans held a slight 83-81 edge in the waning seconds of regulation. However,  the Seahawks’ effectively pushed the game into overtime as Griffin slipped in a tough lay up in traffic with only 7.3 seconds remaining.
     For the game, the Spartans shot a solid 54.5 percent on 36-for-66 from the floor including 6-for-11 from deep.  The Green and White also shot a respectable 23-for-33 from the stripe. York’s best statistic came in the turnover category where the Spartans only committed 13 miscues, which limited the Seahawks’ lightning-quick transition offense to 16 fast-break points.
     St. Mary’s knocked down 50.6 percent of their attempts, going 39-for-77 from the field but only shot 5-for-19 from three. The Seahawks made 18 trips to the free throw line converting 14 of those trips into points.
     Junior guard Nick Brady (Hanover, Pa./Delone Catholic) poured in a team-high 26 points for the Spartans on a 10-for-18 shooting performance while he also grabbed a team-best 12 rebounds. Keefer put on a quality offensive performance of his own with 23 points, including 7-for-9 from the charity stripe, while playing a game-high 43 minutes. Watson’s ever-steady play resulted in 21 points, six assists, and only three turnovers. The rookie, who suffered from a leg cramps in the overtime period yet still came back to hit a pair of free throws, played a total of 42 minutes on the night as he hit 8-of-9 attempts from the floor and 4-of-5 free throws.
     Griffin’s 27 paced a Seahawk team that posted five players in double-digits. Griffin went 10-for-23 from the floor and canned each of his six free throws. Alex Franz, last season’s conference Rookie of the Year, just barely missed a triple-double as he registered 19 points, ten rebounds, and nine assists. Calvin Wise and Mike Fitzpatrick each totaled 12 points while Alex Irmer chipped in ten points and six rebounds.
     The Spartans return to action on Monday, January 19, as they host CAC foe Wesley. Tip-off from York’s Grumbacher Sport & Fitness Center is slated for 8:00 pm.


Julian Watson photo courtesy of Eric Linsley