DOVER, DEL – The York College men's basketball team played their best first half of the 2012-13 season on Saturday at Wesley College. The Spartans then hung on for dear life as the Wolverines came roaring back in the second half before York secured a big 77-69 Capital Athletic Conference win in Dover, Delaware.
The victory is the first CAC win for Spartan head coach Matt Hunter as York improves to 2-5 overall and 1-1 in the leauge. The Wolverines fall to 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
Not only did the Spartans earn the big conference victory, but senior Julian Watson (Odenton, Md./Arundel) became the 21st member of the 1,000 career point club early in the contest. Watson hit a driving lay up with 16:05 left in the first half to join the exclusive club. Watson reached the milestone in his 85th career contest.
The Spartans' first-half performance was the finest half of the season as they raced out to a quick lead. The Wolverines trimmed the early Spartan lead to a deuce at 12-10 but York went on a huge 17-4 run fueled by seniors Mitch Kemp (York, Pa./York Suburban) and Chad Styer (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown). Styer started the spurt with a three and had five points on the run while Kemp hit a pair of triples.
The Wolverines cut the lead to 11 three different times late in the opening stanza but York fashioned a 18-1 run covering three minutes late in the first half, pushing the lead to 46-24. Wesley scored the final bucket of the half as York took a 46-25 lead to the break.
The Spartans were fantastic in the opening 20 minutes. York shot 62.5% from the floor, made six threes and had 15 assists and only three turnovers. They held the Wolverines to 30% shooting including 2-for-12 from three while they forced nine Wesley turnovers.
The second half featured a very motivated Wesley squad as the Wolverines ratcheted up the pressure and turned the Spartans over early and often. That allowed the hosts to cut into the once large Spartan lead quickly.
The Spartan lead stood at 21 with 18:11 left in the game however the Wolverines quickly trimmed the York lead to 15. The Spartans got a huge three from Styer to get it back to 18 at 53-35 but the Wolverines then fashioned a 10-0 run covering just over three minutes to cut the York lead to eight with 9:26 remaining.
The Wolverines continued to cut into the Spartan lead thanks to their high-pressure defense but each time, York seemed to have just enough of an answer to keep the hosts at bay. Wesley cut York's lead to just five at 59-54 but Kemp hit a huge three, pushing the lead back to eight. The Spartans got the lead back to 11 on a Todd Maciejewski (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) bucket with 1:13 left. The final minute was filled with scoring as Wesley scored 11 points in the final 52 seconds while York scored eight points with all eight coming on free throws down the stretch.
After committing just three first half miscues, the Wolverines forced the Spartans into 20 second half turnovers. Wesley turned those Spartan mistakes into 19 points in the second half aiding in their comeback attempt.
Maciejewski led the Spartans with his second double-double of the year. He had 18 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Maciejewski was 9-for-14 from the floor while he also had three assists and only one turnover in his 33 minutes of work. Kemp added 17 points as he was 4-for-5 from the field, including 3-for-4 from three. Kemp drilled 6-of-8 from the free throw line with six of those attempts coming in the final 40 seconds of play.
Styer contributed a career-high 15 points as the senior was 5-for-8 from three including 4-of-7 from three and 1-of-2 at the line. Watson capped his milestone day with 11 points, four assists and a rebound.
Paul Reynolds, the Wolverines' best players and one of the best players in the conference, poured in 24 points including 15 in the second half to lead Wesley. He also had nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in his 40 minutes of action. Reynolds was 9-for-14 from the floor and 6-for-8 at the stripe. Quincy Pettiford poured in 15 second half points as the Wolverines' other double figure scorer.
The Spartans finished the contest shooting a season-high 57.1% from the floor. York was also very efficient from beyond the arc, canning 9-of-19 from behind the line. The Spartans have made nine or more threes in five of their seven games this year. York struggled from the line, converting just 12 of their season-high 21 attempts in the victory.
Wesley shot 36.1% for the game including just 6-of-28 (21.4%) from three. The Wolverines were solid from the line as they went 19-for-25 (76%) in the loss.
The victory at Wentworth Gymnasium is the third straight for the Spartans. Wentworth has proven to be a tough place to play for opponents in the past as Wesley is 38-7 over the last four-plus seasons. Three of those seven losses are to the Spartans during that stretch.
The Spartans return to action on Tuesday evening when they travel to Penn State Harrisburg to face the Lions in a non-conference contest. The Lions will become a member of the Capital Athletic Conference next season. Tip time in Harrisburg is set for 8:00 pm.
Julian Watson photo courtesy of Scott Guise - Director of Athletic Communications