Lions fall to York in first round matchup

Robbie Hopkins battles a defender on the wing.
Robbie Hopkins battles a defender on the wing.

York, Pa. - The Nittany Lions were out-lasted on Tuesday night at Penn State York who eliminated Hazleton from Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons. Points came at premium on Tuesday, but York held off a late second half run by the Lions, advancing to the PSUAC semifinals with a 56-48 win over Hazleton. 

Hazleton was successful in slowing down the York offense who prior to Tuesday night's affair was averaging nearly 80 points of production per night. Hazleton nabbed it's first and only lead seven minutes into the game after holding York to just 3-of-8 field goal attempts over that stretch. Hazleton connected on a pair of triples from junior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) with Ferreras adding a go-ahead lay up to give the lions a 10-8 advantage. Kwiatkowski would go on to score the next five field goals for Hazleton but the Lions would get zero points from the supporting cast for the remainder of the half. The Lions would make life difficult for York on the opposite end however, limiting the number one seeded team to just four second chance opportunities and contesting every shot. Hazleton would trail by just six points following a successful drive by Kwiatkowski inside the final minute of play in the first half, but late triple by Sahnei Day gave York a 30-21 advantage at half time. 

York gained momentum in the second half with a pair of second chance baskets followed by a slam by Johnathon Gillespie coming off a Hazleton turnover near mid-court. The Lions trailed by 13 points after the York offensive burst but clutch offense from Ferreras allowed Hazleton to weather the storm. Ferreras scored on four of the next six possessions for Hazleton who now trailed York 43-34 with 9:24 remaining in the half. The sophomore would add an assist on Hazleton's next basket, getting junior Brandon Mohammed (Albrightsville, Pa.) started and leading to an 8-2 run by the Lions. Hazleton had cut the York lead to just five points with less than five minutes to play but a crucial steal by York's Sahnei Day squashed the Hazleton momentum. York went on to score the next five points and stretch the lead back to double-figures, taking a page out of the Hazleton playbook as they milked the clock in the final minutes to keep Hazleton from getting back within one or two possessions, ultimately securing the eight point victory. 

Kwiatkowski led all scorers on the night with 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field, but York successful limited the PSUAC's leading scorer to just six points in the second half. Ferreras pitched in with an efficient 15 points, going 7-for-11 from the field while Mohammed toted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds to wrap up the top efforts from Hazleton.