Nanticoke, Pa. - Hazleton scored 50 points in the second half of Satruday's season opener but it wasn't enough to take down Luzerne County Community College who came away with an 87-83 victory on their home court. Hazleton came back from a 20 first half deficit to take a slim lead late in the final minutes of action until a 9-0 Trailblazer run inside of 4 minutes to play sealed up the win.
After leading briefly in the first half, Hazleton was forced to play from behind as Luzerne poured in six triples in the first half. A four minute scoring drought late in the period saw the Traiblazers extend their advantage to as many as 20 points although the Lions would battle back to trail by just 12 points at the midway point, 45-33.
Hazleton would get right back into contention when play resumed, opening the period on a 10-2 run but Luzerne's advantage would hover between five and ten points for much of half. With just over seven minutes remaining, Hazleton junior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg Md.) and sophomore Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) combined for a seven point run, knotting the score at 75-75 and moments later Hazleton took their first lead since early in the first half on a pair of Ferreras free throws that put the Lions on top 79-78 with 4:10 to play. That lead would be short lived however as Hazleton would miss their next six shots from the field, adding two turnovers down the stretch as Luzerne pulled ahead late and hung for a four point win.
Kwiatkowski led all scorers in the game with 24 points, adding a team high 15 rebounds in the loss followed by a solid effort from sophomore Scott Shamany (Hazleton, Pa.) who totaled 18 points and 13 rebounds. Other Nittany Lions in double figures included senior Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) with 14 points and seven assists while Ferreras chipped in 10 points and four dimes.
Next up: Hazleton remains on the road for the first three games of the season and will next see action on Friday, November 8. Hazleton will travel to face the Monarch's at King's College on Friday for a 7:00 p.m. contest.