Lions take Mont Alto to the wire, fall 69-64

Colin Johnson takes the court during starting line up announcements.
Colin Johnson takes the court during starting line up announcements.

Hazleton, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton ended the 2022-23 season on Tuesday with a loss to Penn State Mont Alto, finishing the season with a 5-17 overall record. The Nittany Lions gave Mont Alto all they could handle, getting to within two points of the visitors with just two minutes to play in the game, but Hazleton came up empty in their final possessions allowing Mont Alto to pull away at the free throw line to top the Lions 69-64. 

It was a truly solid effort from the Hazleton squad on Tuesday night. The Lions trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half but the final four minutes of the opening period were dominated by Hazleton who finished the half on a 12-2 run. Sophomores Donovan Cumberbatch (Springfield Gardens, Ny.) and Colin Johnson (Raleigh, Nc.) capped the run with a pair of unanswered triples, with Johnson's coming at the buzzer from well beyond the arc to get the Lions within one possession of Mont Alto at the midway point.

Mont Alto led Hazleton 34-31 as play resumed and did their best to knock out the Nittany Lions in the early phases of the second period. The visitors opened the period with an 11-3 run to go up double figures but Hazleton sophomore Jahdon Jerome (Cambria Heights, Ny.) refused to go away quietly. Jerome scored nine straight points for Hazleton over the next several minutes and 15 points in the period to keep Hazleton within striking distance. With five minutes to play in the game, Cumberbatch and Johnson knocked in a pair of triples to cut the deficit to just four points and with just over two minutes to play, Jerome tacked on his sixth field goal of the half to bring the score to 63-61 in favor of Mont Alto. Mont Alto scored a lay up out of timeout to go back up by four points and unfortunately for the Lions, Hazleton would come up empty on their next two trips on offense. Forced to foul, Mont Alto converted four straight free throws to seal up the win with less than 30 seconds to play. Freshman Kyle Artis (Allentown, Pa.) sank a three-pointer at the horn but the Lions would run out of time in the regular season finale. 

Jahdon Jerome's monster second half led to him scoring a team-high 21 points, matching his season high this year. Jerome finished the game 8-of-16 from the field, adding a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe while adding seven rebounds and three steals in the loss. Cumberbatch finished the night with a team-high 10 rebounds, three assists and seven points to his credit while Johnson and Artis totaled 13 points each.