Two hard fought wins usher Hazleton into semester break on a four game win streak

Donovan Cumberbatch goes up for a lay up in traffic.
Donovan Cumberbatch goes up for a lay up in traffic.

Hazleton, Pa. - A strong effort by senior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) on Friday night and a great all around team effort Saturday afternoon take Hazleton into the break on a four-game win streak with an overall record of 7-5 and PSUAC record of 6-2. 

vs. Penn State New Kensington

After being honored prior to the game for reaching the 1,000 point milestone, Kwiatkowski put his team on his back with a gritty performance that led the local Lions to a hard fought 70-66 victory Friday night against visiting Penn State New Kensington. Both teams had shooting woes in the low scoring first half and at the break New Kensington held the lead 27-25. After the intermission, it became the tale of two halves as both teams began to light it up from behind the arc. New Kensington shot 50% (5-for-10) from three-point land and Hazleton was just behind that mark at 41.2% (7-for-17) in the second half. New Kensington was hot right out of the gate of the second half and was able to grow their halftime lead to six points when things got worse for Hazleton and Kwiatkowski who had to leave the game due to an injury at the 15:42 mark. Kwiatkowski would return to the game with 14:44 remaining, but New Kensington's lead would balloon to 12 points on a three-point basket by Evan Clarke with 12:42 left.

After a Hazleton timeout and a key defensive rebound by Nick Ruggeri (Mountain Top, Pa.), the momentum seemed to start shifting Hazleton's way. In the ensuing offensive possession, Ruggeri, for one of his five assists, found Kwiatkowski at the top of the key for an NBA-range three pointer with 12:03 left in the game. That basket made the score 44-35 and was the spark Hazleton needed to fuel their comeback. A layup by Aiden Wiktor (Danville, Pa.) and an old-fashioned three-point play by Ruggeri after a steal and assist from Kwiatkowski cut the lead to six (46-40). After a couple of free throws from Joseph Dusabe of New Kensington pushed the lead back to eight, Paul Feisel (Slocum, Pa.) hit back-to-back three-pointers on assists from Daniel Gendimenico (Hazleton, Pa.) and Kwiatkowski, which got the local Lions within two (48-46) with 8:56 to go. New Kensington would not go softly into the night however and they once again pushed to lead back to six with 7:49 left after a bucket by Benjamin Cunningham and two by Manny Dotson. But the final 7 minutes and 22 seconds would belong to Kwiatkowksi who would go 5-for-6 from the field, 2-for-3 from three, and 4-for-5 from the foul line, out scoring New Kensington 16 to 14 down the stretch. Hazleton also got key baskets during that stretch from Donovan Cumberbatch (Brooklyn, NY), Ruggeri, and Feisel, as well as the final point of the game with eight ticks left on the clock from a Gendimenico free throw conversion that put Hazleton up by 4 to seal the win.

Kwiatkowski finished the game with a career- and game-high 36 points to go along with his 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Feisel also finished in double digits with 14 points and 7 rebounds. New Kensington had four players in double digits, Joseph Dusabe (16), Shyheim Flanagan (13), and Benjamin Cunningham and Evan Clarke (11).

vs. Penn State Shenango

With Kwiatkowski sidelined from Friday night's injury, it was next man up for Hazleton and his young teammates proved in resounding fashion they were all ready to step up. Without their senior leader, five Hazleton players posted double digits in the scoring column to finish the semester with a big 95-81 win over Penn State Shenango. Hazleton only trailed once in this game, which was just two minutes and eight seconds into the contest when the score was 1-0 and took a 27-point lead into halftime. This deficit proved to be too much for New Kensington and despite outscoring Hazleton in the second half 53-40 the visitors were never able to pull any closer than 13 points.

Leading the way for Hazleton was Cumberbatch who recorded his first career double-double with a team- and career-high 21 points, on 53.8% shooting from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, and a game- and career-high 14 rebounds. He also dished out 6 assists. Ruggeri poured in 18 points of his own going 10-for-11 from the free throw line. He was one assist (9) shy of posting a double-double and had six rebounds on the afternoon. Feisel contributed 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field and 4-for-9 from three to go with his 8 rebounds. Also on the list of double digit scorers were Wiktor and Jahdon Jerome (Brooklyn, NY) with 10 points a piece off the bench. 

Penn Shenango had three players in double digits in the loss, D'Montez Owens led all scorers with 31 points to go wth his 7 rebounds. Teammates Jashun Cobb finished with 24 points and Malik Weatherington posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Next up: Hazleton will have a month-long break and will return to action on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at home against non-conference opponent University of Maine-Fort Kent. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.