Dunmore, Pa. - Sophomore Aaron Kellmer and the Nittany Lions got the last laugh on Wednesday night after a back and forth affair at Penn State Scranton ended in victory for the Hazleton squad. Kellmer started off slow but connected when it counted most, knocking in a triple from the corner to beat the buzzer and break an 85-85 stalemate. The sophmore's last second shot improved the Lions' record to 5-1 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, keeping the squad in second position in the eastern division.
Five Nittany Lions topped double-figures in a game where Hazleton where Hazleton needed every last bucket. Freshman Scott Shamany (Hazleton, Pa.) pitched in 13 points and six boards while junior Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) and sophomore Brett Kosciolek shot a combined 9-of-14 from the field, totaling 11 and 10 points respectively.
But it was sophomore Brandon Mohammed (Albrightsville, Pa.) and junior Andy Kwaitkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) delivering the heavy hitting for Hazleton. Kwaitkowski inflicted the majority of his damage in the first half, connecting on five triples in seven attempts in the period. His 18 points marked the ninth consecutive game that the junior has hit double-digits in scoring and leads the squad with 17.1 points per outing. Mohammed on the other hand came up big in the second half for Hazleton. The sophomore notched 13 of his team high 21 points in the second half, adding eight of his 12 rebounds over the final twenty minutes to capture his fifth double-double of the season.
Wednesday's contest was close battle featuring 11 lead changes but both squads really turned up the offense in the second half with each team totaling 50 or more points in the period. Hazleton would shoot 56.7 percent from the field in the half while Scranton tallied a 59.4 shooting percentage and sank 9-of-18 attempts beyond the arc making for a dramatic finish. Hazleton took a five point lead into the second half but Scranton hung with the Lions thanks to a stellar effort from beyond the arc that negated Hazleton's advantage from the charity stripe. Scranton's Arel Lemour and London Jeter combined for 9-of-10 shots from long distance but despite that monster effort, Hazleton managed to to sustain a one or two possession lead for much of the final period. All that would change in the final minutes as Hazleton extended their lead to eight points after a pair of technical fouls sent the Lions to the line for four attempts. But with the score 83-75, Scranton roared back with an 8-1 run in the final minute, and tied the game with seven seconds to play after senior Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) delivered one of two attempts from the line. Queue Aaron Kellmer as Hazleton found themselves with the final possession. Nowak drove the ball up court dishing the ball to the sophomore shooting guard for the game winning triple from the left corner.
Next up: After a 2-0 start to January, the Nittany Lions look to keep that momentum going on Saturday when the squad hosts Penn State Wilkes-Barre who remains undefeated in PSUAC play. Tip-off in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium set for 3:00 p.m. on January 12.