Hazleton ousted from postseason by Schuylkill

Nick Ruggeri at the point guard position.
Nick Ruggeri at the point guard position.

Schuylkill Haven, Pa. - Just two days after meeting in the final game of the regular season, Hazleton and Penn State Schuylkill met up on Saturday for the third and final time of the 2021-22 season. At stake, a chance to make a run for the PSUAC title. After falling at Schuylkill on Thursday, the Lions were reunited for the post-season matchup with senior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) who missed five straight games due to injury. But even with the return of Hazleton's top scorer, the Lions struggled to produce points in crunch time, seeing Schuylkill vault past them in the final ten minutes of the game to advance to the quarterfinals by the score of 69-56. 

Both squads had their moments of success in the first half. Hazleton got off to a great start and maintained control for much of the period. Contributions from multiple Nittany Lions gave Hazleton an eight point on two occasions in the first half thanks to great first half efforts from freshman Paul Feisel (Slocum, Pa.) and junior Aaron Kellmer (Hazle Township, Pa.). The duo combined for 15 of Hazleton's 26 first half points and shot a combined for three triples to help gain the Lions an eight point advantage with five minutes to play in the period. But the last five minutes of action would see Hazleton go 2-for-8 from the field, allowing Schuylkill back in the game. Schuylkill finished the half on a 15-4 run, carrying momentum and 29-26 lead into the second half. 

Feisel continued to have the hot hand for Hazleton in the second half. Two triples by the freshman in the early minutes of the second half left Hazleton trailing by just one point and for the next eight minutes of play, Schuylkill and Hazleton traded blows. A jumper by freshman Nick Ruggeri at the 9:00 minute mark gave Hazleton their first lead of the second half but a 7-0 run by Schuylkill over the next three minutes of play left Hazleton trailing the rest of the way. Hazleton finished the final nine minutes of the game 2-for-15 from the field allowing Schuylkill to slowly accumulate a double-figure lead and cruise to the finish line for the win. 

Wilvens Fluerizard finished as the game's leading scorer going 8-for-16 on the afternoon and totaling 24 points with seven rebounds and four steals. Ryan Worrell added 12 points with four triples, part of 22 bench points for Schuylkill compared to just three points for the Nittany Lion reserves. Hazleton was led by Feisel who totaled 22 points Saturday, connecting on 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and hit 5-of-6 from the charity stripe . Aaron Kellmer totaled 12 points in the game but was the only other Nittany Lion in double-figures. Kwiatkowski notched just eight points in his return but led the Lions with 12 rebounds, wrapping up a stellar three-year career at Penn State Hazleton.