November 16, 2009

Spartans Hit Clutch Free Throws to Down Catholic

YORK, PA  - Senior Jeremy Keefer (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra) sank two free throws with 2.4 seconds left in regulation to force overtime allowing the York College men’s basketball team to record an 82-76 overtime victory over Catholic University in the championship game of the 2009 White Rose City Classic on Monday night in York. The Spartans picked up their first in-season tournament championship since the 2008 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on January 5.

York improves to 2-0 overall with the win while the Cardinals fall to 1-1 with the setback.

The contest was a tremendous college basketball game as the two teams battled back and forth all night long. After a first half that saw neither team lead by more than five until very late, the second half and overtime provided the 925 fans in attendance quite a show.

The Spartans opened the second half with a Kevin Whaley (Dover, Pa./Dover) three that pushed the lead to eight at 42-34. The Spartan lead eventually reached nine on a Nick Brady (Hanover, Pa./Delone Catholic) bucket with 16:01 left in regulation. The Cardinals battled back courtesy of a 9-2 run, cutting the York lead to 51-49. The Green and White scored seven of the next eight points, pushing the lead back up to eight with 9:40 left. After a pair of Chris Kearney free throws, Brady canned a huge three giving York a 61-52 lead with 9:21 showing on the clock.

The Cardinals wasted little time in responding as they outscored York 16-3 over the next 7:19 to take a 68-64 lead with just 1:54 remaining. Whaley canned a cold-blooded three with 1:25 left, cutting the Cardinal lead to one. After a Jason Banzhaf hoop pushed the lead back to three, Dylan Hoffman (Dallastown, Pa./Dallastown) hit a floater in the lane to draw York to within one at 70-69. Catholic’s RJ Dixon split a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left, giving the guests a two-point lead and changing the Spartan strategy as they just needed two points to tie instead of three. Catholic called time out, allowing the Spartans to set up for the game-tying possession. Brady got the ball in the wing and drove to the hoop before missing the shot. Keefer collected the rebound and was fouled. With the crowd suddenly into the game, the senior captain ripped cord on both attempts, giving the Spartans the 71-71 tie, forcing an extra five minutes.

The overtime scoring began with a Brady three 1:17 into the extra session. Banzhaf hit a lay up and Clay Penecale canned a jumper to give the Cardinals a 75-74 lead with 1:48 remaining. The Spartans then began their parade to the free throw line as Brady hit a pair of freebies with 1:21 remaining to give York a one point lead. Spencer Reed hit one of two from the line to tie the game but then sophomore Paul Kouvaris (Baltimore, Md./Cardinal Gibbons) hit the first of his four free throws over the final 34 seconds to give the Spartans the lead for good. The Spartans hit their final eight free throws of overtime to ice the win.

Brady led the way for the Spartans as he drained 20 points, collected seven rebounds and handed out four assists in the win. Whaley added 14 points, a game-high nine rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal. Freshman Jeremy Skoloda (Leola, Pa./Conestoga Valley) poured in a career-high 14 points in his 20 minutes of action. Keefer was the fourth Spartan in double figures with 13 points in addition to pulling in six rebounds, handing out two assists and blocking two shots.

Banzhaf, a preseason All-American, was impressive as he recorded a game-high 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Penecale was the other Cardinal in double figures with 11 points and eight rebounds. Dixon chipped in with eight points, six assists, four steals and a pair of rebounds.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 48.1% from the floor and were sharp from three as they finished 7-for-14 from distance. The Spartans, who struggled from the charity stripe in the first half, were 14-of-17 (82.3%) from the line in the second half and overtime. Catholic shot 37.2% from the floor, 25% (8-for-32) from three, and struggled at the line going just 12-for-22 from the stripe.

In the consolation game, St. Vincent edged Penn State-York 63-57 to secure third place. The Bearcats were led by BJ McGill as he poured in 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Mike Watkins added 16 points and six boards as the Bearcats improve to 1-1. Chase McGowan led the Lions with 16 points and eight rebounds while Horace Jackson added 14 for Penn State-York.

The Spartans return to action on Friday night when they face Washington & Jefferson at the Mt. Aloysius Coaches Vs. Cancer Tournament. Tip time from Cresson, Pa. is set for 6:00 pm.

BOX SCORE

ST. VINCENT/PSU-YORK BOX

Team photo courtesy of Steve Doemland (www.stevedoemland.com)

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