MIDDLETOWN, Pa- Penn State Harrisburg's men's basketball team celebrated Senior Night by besting North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) rival Gallaudet 94-74 and clinching the conference's South Division title. Seniors Kenton Alston (Harrisburg, PA/Steel-High) and Dave Reisinger (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin East) were honored before the game and put up solid numbers in their last home game wearing the blue and white but it was junior Steve Jones (Harrisburg, PA/Harrisburg) who led the way with 29 points and nine rebounds.
Fittingly, Reisinger scored the game's first points by knocking down a pair of free throws. After Will Doyle (Franklin, VA/Tidewater Academy) smashed a three-ball on the Lions' next possession, Alston got into the scoring act by converting a layup off an assist from Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, PA/Manheim Central) to give the home team an early 7-0 lead.
Gatchell's biggest play of the night* came when he stole an errant Brandon McMillan (Frederick, MD/Maryland School For the Deaf) inbounds pass and banked-in a half court buzzer beater to end the first half and give his squad a 12-point advantage heading into the break.
Jones scored 17 of his game-high point total in the game's first twenty minutes on 8-10 shooting from the field. The second half however, belonged to Alston.
The four-year starter netted ten of his 14 points in the final period. He also grabbed four of his seven rebounds and recorded three of his four assists in the final twenty minute stretch. He filled up the rest of the stat sheet nicely, finishing the contest with four steals and three blocks.
Gallaudet was unable to mount any sort of comeback in the second half. After trailing by as many as 23, the closest the Bison came to making it a competitive game came when they cut the deficit to 13 following a McMillan three-ball with 3:34 remaining.
The home team closed out the contest with a 10-3 run to clinch the victory and the division crown.
Reisinger was 7-14 from the field on his way to a 19-point outing. Doyle had 11 while Gatchell netted eight, dished out five assists and nabbed an impressive seven steals. Jones did a little bit of everything, adding five assists and four steals.
But this night was about the legacy the two Penn State Harrisburg seniors leave behind. Alston, the program's all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, has been the face of the budding program the past four years while Reisinger, who also appears on multiple all-time top ten lists despite playing just two years in Middletown, was a key addition to last year's regular season NEAC championship team.
Lions' Head Coach Mike Gaffey had nothing but gracious things to say about his two graduating players.
"Dave has left a lasting impression on the program," he said. "He helped lead the team to its first regular season NEAC championship and first conference tournament title game in school history. He will be remembered for his high flying dunks in both practice and numerous games. On top of all that, he is a great guy and a respectful young man which is all a coach could ask for."
"I have been with Kenton for five years; one year as a high school senior and four years as a collegiate student-athlete and a member of the ROTC program," said Gaffey. "He has helped lead Penn State Harrisburg from a last place, eight-win team as a freshman, to a school-record 17 wins this year as a senior. His leadership skills are second to none as evidenced in my 25 years of coaching. He is by far the most polite and respectful young man I have ever coached."
Gaffey also made a point to recognize Alston's contributions off the court as a member of our country's military prior to his joining the Penn State Harrisburg basketball team.
"The citizenship that he brings to this campus in addition to the four years he served our country in the Marines makes me very proud to have met and been associated with this young man," he said. "Kenton will always be remembered for the numerous times he scored or blocked a shot in the closing seconds of a game, and as the 'face" of our program the past four seasons. He is living proof that good things happen to good people."
*Video courtesy of Penn State Harrisburg public address announcer Jason Noll