Hazleton, Pa. - Sophomore Jacob Solano (Bethlehem, Pa.) brought fans to their feet Saturday afternoon with a buzzer beating triple at the end of regulation that sent Hazleton (6-8, 4-3 PSUAC) into overtime against Penn State University Athletic Conference rival Penn State State New Kensington (4-7, 2-4 PSUAC). The sophomore's clutch three, part of a season high 37 point effort, knotted the score at 80-80 with just three tenths of a second remaining after Hazleton trailed New Kensington since the 13:00 minute mark in the first half.
New Kensington would repay the favor with a Kenneth Rouse lay-up in the final 15 seconds of the first overtime period to stall the Hazleton celebrations, but the Nittany Lions would pull away in the second frame of free basketball behind a seven point effort from junior Kyle Kelly (Manhattan, Ny.) that helped give Hazleton a much needed 108-102 win in their second game on back to back days.
Dorian Broadwater was clutch all afternoon, shooting over 50 percent from the field to lead New Kensington with 31 points, in 45 minutes of play. Broadwater connected on four of seven from beyond the arc and pulled in a team high 13 rebounds in the losing effort.
Other New Kensington top efforts included Shane Baronner with 22 points on nine of 10 shooting, Kenneth Rouse's with 19 points and a team best five assists, as well Javon Turner who turned in a an 11 point afternoon, shooting four for four from the field in 19 minutes off the bench.
Solano was red hot all afternoon for the Nittany Lions, but did most of his damage in the second half and overtime. The sophomore went for 23 of his 37 points in the final 30 minutes of action, but none bigger than his bucket to send the game to extra frames. Solano ended his career day sinking 15 of 27 from the field with a team best four assists and three swipes.
Junior Jordan Singletary continued his fine play, touting his eighth double-double of the season with 17 points and 18 rebounds. The forward was dominant on defense, registering six blocked shots that were crucial to the Lion's comeback effort, but was forced to play a spectator role in overtime after fouling out with several minutes remaining in regulation.
Rounding out the top scorers for Hazleton were senior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.) and Kyle Kelly. Richardson played pivotal minutes off the Hazleton bench, connecting on three of six attempts from long range to total 13 points in 36 minutes. Kelly added 11 points, seven of which came in the final frame, adding six rebounds and three steals to help send the Lions' fans home happy.
Solano and Singletary connected of five early jumpers to put the Lions out ahead early, a 10-5 run in the first 3:34 of the game. But a Kenneth Rouse triple sparked a 7-0 run for the visitors to give New Kensington it's first lead of the afternoon. Both squads would trade shots over the next several ticks of the clock but New Kensington would remain ahead or tied until the end of the half. Though trailing, the Nittany Lions never let the game get out of hand, despite a 14 point effort from Broadwater in the final seven minutes of the period. Solano would match his crafty counterpart, pitching in the four field goals of his own to close out the half, keeping Hazleton within single digits at the midway point, 42-34 in favor of the visitors.
A Javon Turner triple with 13:26 to play in regulation gave New Kensington its largest lead of the game, an 11 point margin, but there was no quit in the Nittany Lions. Singletary, Solano and junior Royce Brathwaite (Pocono Manor, Pa.) would combine for nine points over the next two minutes to close within five, and moments later, Richardson would tack on a long range make to shrink the New Kensington lead to just three points with 10 minutes to play.
A flurry of blocks by Singletary accompanied by field goals from sophomores Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Gregory DePaolis (Grafton, Ny.) would get the Lions to within one point at the five minute mark. Now on their heels, Barroner and Turner led a late resurgence for the visitors and pushed the lead back to eight points with 3:34 to play.
Unwilling to fold, Dwayne Richardson came to the rescue, sinking his second triple of the game to get the Lions back in contention and following up with a lay-up to cut the lead to two points with 1:45 to play. A pair of free throw from Javon Turner extended New Kensington's advantage to 79-74 with 0:29 seconds remaining and with the clock winding down, Hazleton missed a pair of long range attacks. Fortunately, Nowak kept the ball alive on both occasions, finding Richardson in the corner for a crucial three that slashed the lead to a one possession game.
New Kensington would convert on one of two attempts at the stripe, giving Hazleton an opportunity to tie. With the clock approaching all zeros, Kyle Kelly penetrated the defense, kicking to Solano on the wing who delivered to game tying basket with just 0:00.3 remaining on the board.
New Kensington got out to a quick start in the overtime, scoring nine points in the first half of the period to give them an 89-85 lead over the Lions. But a pair of DePaolis free throws and lay-ups from Kelly and Solano would give Hazleton the slight edge at 91-89 with under 30 seconds to play. New Kensington found Rouse off an inbounds play, dashing the Hazleton hopes and sending the game to double overtime.
Heating up in the waning portion of the game, Kyle Kelly knocked in a pair of free throws and a long range bomb to give the edge back to Hazleton in the second overtime. Kelly would add a lay-up along with Solano to give Hazleton a 102-96 advantage. But Broadwater and Rouse responded with a five point run of their own, cutting the lead to just one point with under two minutes remaining.
With both teams in the bonus, Hopkins and Solano would keep Hazleton on top at the free throw line. Nursing a three point lead with 0:30 seconds to play, Dwayne Richardson faced intense pressure by the New Kensington defense, but somehow found a streaking Greg Depaolis free under the basket. Depaolis converted the bunny to put the Lions up for good and a well-earned 108-102 victory the Hazleton.
Hazleton looks to keep pace in a crowded middle-of the pack in the PSUAC. The Lions will travel to Penn State Mont Alto on Tuesday, January 17 for a 8:00 p.m. weeknight contest.