Exley's Career Night Leads Spartans to Sweep of Gulls

YORK, PA – April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) scored 20 and Gayle Exley (Spring City, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) canned a career-high 19 as the York College women’s basketball team clawed to a 73-71 Capital Athletic Conference victory over Salisbury Monday evening at the Grumbacher Sport & Fitness Center. The two-point triumph pushes the Spartans’ record to 9-12 (5-7 CAC) on the year while the Sea Gulls drop to 8-12 (5-7 CAC).

Sparkman, who was the league’s third-leading scorer heading into tonight’s contest, tallied her 20 via a 6-for-15 shooting effort while nailing 7-of-8 from the free throw line. The junior added seven rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and two steals over her 40 minutes of action. Exley’s career performance came on an efficient 7-for-10 from the field, including 3-for-4 from three, while she also dropped in two of her three free throws. Exley also tallied seven caroms and four rejections.

In what would prove to be an exciting last three and a half minutes for the Green and White, the Spartans found themselves initially down by seven in the game’s waning minutes. With 3:27 to play, Salisbury’s KC Curren drained a triple to put the visitors up 69-62.

Despite the apparent dagger, the Spartans, who had fought all night, continued to battle. A Jaimie Sapp (Bluemont, Va./Loudoun Valley) jumper, backed up by a three from Exley left York down only two with 2:42 remaining. Sparkman would then erase that slight Salisbury margin with a layup, her 17th and 18th points of the evening, with 1:32 to play tying the score at 69. A mere 33 seconds later, freshman guard Cynthia Ruiz (Hampstead, Md./North Carroll) registered another Spartan lay-in to give the home squad their first lead since the 9:37 mark of the second half when York led 56-54. York’s two-point margin would then stretch to four when Sparkman drilled a pair of freebies as the Spartans led 73-69 with 47 seconds to play.

Those final seconds however would not go by without some late excitement. The Sea Gulls’ Curran knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the Spartan lead to a mere two. After back-to-back missed one-and-one free-throw opportunities for the Spartans, the Sea Gulls were inbounding from near mid-court with 1.5 seconds on the clock. In Salisbury’s final attempt to push the game into overtime, a Sea Gull forward released and was wide open underneath the basket. Much to the Spartans’ fortune, her ensuing layup bounded off the rim giving the home squad the narrow victory.

Prior to the exciting finish, the Spartans had to battle throughout much of the contest. Salisbury's relentless pressure and outstanding first half shooting put the Spartans in a hole early. The visitors would climb to a 14-point advantage, their largest of the contest, at 31-17 with 6:50 to play in the opening stanza.

Despite the first half haymaker, the Green and White recovered and went on a 17-4 run to close the frame only down one at 35-34.

The second half saw both squads tussle as neither could gain a significant hold on the contest until Salisbuy mounted a 64-56 lead with 7:14 remaining. York continued to fight however, as the effort paid off with the eventual two-point victory.

Senior guard Jamie Polan (York, Pa./West York) also got in on the double-digit action as she tallied 10 points while ripping four steals. Sapp chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds for the Green and White.

Freshman forward Nicole Sisco paced the Sea Gull offense with 22 points on a 9-for-18 performance. Sisco recorded a double-double on the evening as she also pulled down 10 boards. Kylie Hall and Glen Charlton each posted 14 for the visitors.

For the game, the Spartans shot 44.3 percent from the floor including a red hot 55.2 percent in the second half. York recorded a season-high 11 blocks while besting their guests in rebounds 47-43.

Salisbury shot 35.5 percent from the floor but only managed a 27.3 percent showing in the latter stanza. Their constant defensive pressure, including lengthy stretches of a tough full-court press, forced the Green and White into 29 turnovers, which the Sea Gulls converted into 29 points.

The Spartans return to action on Thursday, February 11, as they travel to Gallaudet University. The CAC tilt, originally slated for Wednesday evening, is set for a 6:00 p.m. tip-off in Washington, D.C.

BOX SCORE

Gayle Exley photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (www.sharpedgephoto.smugmug.com)