Strong second half propels Hazleton to victory

Andy Kwiatkowski dribbles the ball up court.
Andy Kwiatkowski dribbles the ball up court.

Schuylkill Haven, Pa. - Hazleton moved to 5-4 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference following dominant second half effort at Penn State Schuylkill on Tuesday night. After scoring just 29 points in the first period, the Nittany Lions surged for 56 points in the second half, led by junior guard Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) who notched 24 points in the final stanza.

The first half featured just four lead changes although neither squad was able to separate themselves from the other. Nursing a slim lead late in the period, Schulkill struck for three straight buckets and opened up their largest lead of the night at 33-24 but Hazleton senior Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) responded with consecutive baskets in the final minute, trimming the Lion deficit to just four point by the midway mark. 

Things would certainly heat up in the second half. After taking nearly 13 minutes in the first period to reach 20 points, Hazleton matched that effort just seven minutes into the second half. Despite the potent attack, Schuylkill remained neck and neck with Hazleton and trailed 57-56 with ten minutes remaining in regulation. Both teams would trade blows down the stretch until Kwiatkowski knocked in his eighth field goal of the period with just under three minutes remaining to give Hazleton a 73-71 advantage. Sophomore Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Ny.) added a pair of clutch field goals to stretch the lead out to six points and the Lions came up big at the charity stripe, making 6-of-8 from the line to maintain the lead and seal up the six point victory. 

Kwiatkowski led a group of four Hazleton players in double figures, notching a game high 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the floor. Sophomore Scott Shamany pitched in with a double-double totaling 10 points with 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. Hazleton's point guard duo of Ferreras and Hopkins added 17 points and 16 points respectively, with Hopkins knocking in 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. 

Next up: Hazleton squares off with a pair of PSUAC western division opponents over the weekend leading off with a home court matchup with Penn State Beaver on Friday, January 24 at 8:00 p.m.