Slugfest in Schuylkill Haven ends in 83-81 Hazleton loss

Jacob Solano goes up for the reverse lay up.
Jacob Solano goes up for the reverse lay up.

Schuylkill Haven, Pa. - Sophomore Jacob Solano scorched local Penn State University Athletic Conference rival Penn State Schuylkill for 33 points on Friday night, his second 30 plus point performance in January but quantity out-did quality on Friday night. Schuylkill hoisted 37 triples, making good on 13 attempts to edge the Lions.  Hazleton neutralized a net deficit of 14 offensive rebounds to Schuylkill with a brilliant shooting performance of over 50 percent from the field to take the game down to the final seconds of play. Trailing by three with just three seconds remaining and a chance to tie, the Nittany Lions hopes came up empty at the free throw line, culminating a thrilling game that resulted in a 83-81 victory for Schuylkill.

Top Performers

A balanced attack from the high-powered, long-range shooting Schuylkill offense left five players in double figures for the home team. Leading the way was Derek Dimond with 18 points, followed by Jauan Craig with 17 points and eight boards, seven of which came on the offensive end. Will Bracey and David Graham scored 16 each, while Kody Jacoby ended the night with a 10 point, 12 rebound double-double effort. 

Equally impressive were the Nittany Lions who went toe to toe with the home team from long range. Hazleton shot near 53 percent from downtown, a 10-19 barrage that made for a great watch for fans.

Hazleton was led by Solano's 33 point venture which powered the Nittany Lion offense. The sophomore hit an astounding 14 of 22 from the field including three of three from long range while adding a team high seven assists.

Junior Jordan Singletary (Houston, Tx.) had another monster night in the paint, notching 18 rebounds an five blocked shots, coming up just shy of his 10th double-double of the season with nine points. 

Rounding out the top Hazleton performers were sophomore Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) and senior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.). Nowak finished with a season high 17 points while Richardson hit on three of four attempts from beyond the arc to tally 11 points in the loss.

1st Half

Schuylkill came out firing early and often from beyond the arc. Six of the home team's first seven field goals came from long distance forcing the Nittany Lions to follow suit. Hazleton managed to match the Schuylkill attackers and surge ahead of Schuylkill midway through the period. Triples from Richardson, Nowak and Solano accompanied by Singletary's presence in the paint had Hazleton up by as many as four points with 7:33 to play in the half but the Lions were unable to expand the lead. Both teams continued to trade blows as the half came to a close with Schuylkill earning a slight 36-35 edge at halftime.

2nd Half

The home team opened the half on a five point run, building their largest lead of the game at 41-35 over Hazleton and would maintain that separation over the next six minutes of action. Hazleton trailed by five at the 12:54 mark when Nowak connected on a mid range jumper. Solano followed suit with a basket of his own, then dished to freshman Ben Reigel (Doylestown, Pa.) on his next trip down the court who hit from the corner for three points. Schuylkill continued to struggle on their end of the floor, leading to a two on one attack in transition from Nowak and Reigel. Hazleton would cap a 12-0 run over a three minute stretch to hold a 60-54 lead with 9:25 remaining in regulation. 

Despite makes from Solano over the next two minutes, Schuylkill bounced right back with three straight triples from Khari Thompson and Derek Dimond. Schuylkill built momentum to build a six point lead and clung to that edge as the game entered its final three minutes. 

Hazleton wasn't finished as Nowak and Solano cut the advantage to 79-78 but as was previous, neither team was able to stop the other offensively. After trading buckets, Hazleton found itself trailing by three with 11 seconds to play and a last ditch effort nearly paid off for the Lions. A foolish foul from Schuylkill gave Hazleton three chances at the charity stripe, but the Lions could not convert on the second attempt. With just three seconds to play, Hazleton was forced to miss intentionally and could not come up with the necessary rebound, resulting in the 83-81 road loss.

Next Up

Hazleton returns to the Dr. Thomas M. Caccesse Gymnasium on Tuesday, January 24 to take on another local rival in Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Hazleton will look to get back on track as they head into the final three weeks of the regular season. Tuesday night's game will be broadcast locally on WYLN-35 with coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m.