Lions fall to Schuylkill in season finale

Jaclyn Hess dribbles up the sideline.
Jaclyn Hess dribbles up the sideline.

Hazleton, Pa. - Faced with a must-win scenario on Friday night in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium, the Lady Lions came up short against Penn State Schuylkill, ending their bid for a post-season berth in the 2020 Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs. After falling behind early in the game, Hazleton faced an uphill battle all night, ultimately coming up short by the score of 80-58 and bringing the 2019-20 season to a close.

Hazleton was plagued by poor shooting in a first half that saw Schuylkill lead ahead of the Lady Lions by 25 points by the midway point. After scoring the first bucket of the game, Hazleton would log just five field goals over the next 19 minutes of play and connect on just 18 percent of the shots in the first half. That stretch of play would prove critical in this one as Schuylkill used a combination of defense and penetrating offense to create high percentage looks at the hoop. Hazleton would right the ship on the offensive end in the second half, getting a combined nine triples from freshman Scarlett Vargas (Bronx, Ny.) and Alexa Clark (Effort, Pa.), but Schuylkill's Alyssa Gerber and Desiree Ellison answered at every turn. The Schuylkill duo would combine for nearly 64 percent of the visiting team's offense that included a 16-for-18 run from the charity stripe. A potent combination that would keep Hazleton facing a 20 point or more deficit for entirety of the second half, allowing the visiting squad to cruise to the finish line for 22 point margin of victory. 

Vargas would end the night as Hazleton's top scorer, notching 20 points for the fourth time this season, adding nine rebounds and five assists in the loss. Alexa Clark finished 5-of-9 from beyond the arc to total 15 points while freshman Brianna Clark (Effort, Pa.) supplied the offense with 10 points of her own. 

Next up: After a stellar run of three straight wins in PSUAC play, Hazleton's season comes to a close with the loss to Schuylkill. The Lady Lions finish the year with a 9-14 overall record and an 8-10 record in conference play.