YORK, PA – Misericordia's Ethan Eichhorst hit a lay-up with 5.5 seconds left to give the visiting Cougars a dramatic 71-70 victory over York College in the championship game of the 11th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Charles Wolf Gymnasium in York. The Spartans had a chance to win the game but Jeremy Skoloda's three pointer at the horn went off the back of the rim, snapping York's four-game win streak.
The Cougars improve to 7-5 overall while the Spartans fall to 9-4. York was going for their fifth straight in-season tournament title and their seventh Coaches vs. Cancer Classic championship. The Spartans are now 16-6 all-time in the 11-year history of the tournament.
Eichhorst's heroics would not have been possible without the Cougars sharp shooting in the final nine minutes of the game. The Spartans held a 61-46 lead thanks to a fast break dunk from Paul Kouvaris and a deep three from Mitch Kemp as the Green and White appeared to be running away with the game with 9:01 left in regulation.
The Cougars then embarked on 16-2 run keyed by threes from Jeff Slanovec, Matt Greene, and Steve Arzerovnian as they trimmed the York lead to 63-62. The Spartans pushed the lead back to five courtesy of a pair of Julian Watson free throws with 42 seconds left. Robbie Johnson converted a lay up with 31 seconds left as the Spartan lead dwindled to three. The Cougars made a mistake and fouled the Spartans' top free throw shooter Kevin Whaley with 30 seconds left. Unfortunately for York, Whaley, who entered the game shooting 83% from the line, missed the front end of the one-and-one and a Spartan foul on the rebound sent Slanovec to the line. The Cougar forward converted both chances, drawing the visitors to within one at 68-67. Watson was fouled again, this time with 23 seconds left, and again, the sophomore guard sank both charity tosses, pushing the lead back to three. That would be the last time York would score as Eichhorst hit a layup with 16 seconds left before his game-winning shot off a Cougar timeout.
The first half saw York trail by as many as five before the Spartans ended the half on a 12-3 run that enabled the Green and White to take a 37-32 lead to the break.
Eichhorst, who was named the tournament MVP, finished the game with 18 points and nine rebounds in his 36 minutes of action. He was 6-for-11 from the floor, 1-for-3 from three, and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Slanovec, an all-tournament team selection, added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He canned four threes and made all four of his free throws in the win. Matt Greene chipped in with 12 points while Johnson added 11 points, five assists, and five rebounds.
Whaley led all scorers en route to earning all-tournament team honors. He finished the game with 22 points, including 17 in the first half. Whaley was 7-for-13 from the floor, 4-of-7 from three and 4-of-6 from the free throw line. He also had five assists, two rebounds and two steals. Kouvaris recorded his second double-double in three games with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He was 5-for-7 from the field and 6-for-11 from the charity stripe. Junior Andrew Pawlyk contributed six points and seven rebounds while senior captain Dylan Hoffman handed out a team-high six assists.
The Cougars finished the game shooting 40% from the floor, 41.9% (13-for-31) from three, and 90.9% (10-for-11) from the free throw line. The Spartans shot 46.2% from the field, 40% (8-for-20) from three but again struggled from the line as they went just 14-for-24 (58.3%) from the stripe.
Both teams pulled in 35 rebounds while York had 14 turnovers and Misericordia had 15 miscues in the contest.
The Spartans now have 12 games remaining on the schedule and all 12 are in the Capital Athletic Conference. The Spartans embark on the second half of the season by hosting Mary Washington in a crucial conference game on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm.