MIDDLETOWN, Pa- The Penn State Harrisburg men's basketball team recently wrapped up its most successful regular season in program history. The Lions finished the year with an overall record of 19-6 and 12-2 in North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) play. As the conference's South Division champions, the men will head to Morrisville State this weekend for the NEAC championship tournament looking to finish strong and clinch the programs' first ever NCAA Division III tournament bid.
Below is the list of teams that are also taking place in the conference's championship tournament this weekend and how the Lions fared in their matchups with these opponents earlier this season:
Morrisville State (17-8 overall, 14-1 NEAC)
The Mustangs host this year's NEAC championship tourney thanks to their strong conference record and crucial 77-68 victory over Penn State Harrisburg on Feb. 5. At the time of that contest, both squads were undefeated in league play. Morrisville was led offensively by all-conference selections Kucjok Ater (Syracuse, NY/Bishop Grimes) (21 points) and Brandon Hanks (Syracuse, NY/Henninger) (16 points). NEAC player of the year Mickey Davis (Syracuse NY/Jamesville-Dewitt) netted 15. Will Doyle (Franklin, VA/Tidewater Academy) paced the blue and white with 17 tallies while Steve Jones (Harrisburg, PA/Harrisburg) added 13. Kenton Alston (Harrisburg, PA/Steel-High) and Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, PA/Manheim Central) scored ten points apiece.
Wells (14-11 overall, 11-4 NEAC)
The Express are the defending conference tournament champions and the Lions' semifinal opponent. Wells has been on a roll as of late, winning its last seven games, including a victory over Morrisville State; the Mustangs' only NEAC loss of the year. Penn State Harrisburg edged the Express 69-66 on Jan. 14 in the teams' only meeting this season. Amani Glenn (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin East) scored a game-high 19 points with Jones following closely behind with 16. Gatchell chipped in with 12 tallies and the Lions got a double-digit scoring effort from Alberto De Los Santos (Enola, PA/East Pennsboro) (11 points). All-conference first-team selection Terry Harrison (Brooklyn, NY/Forest Hills) led the way for Wells with 15 points and third-team all-conference honoree Dave Foltz (Auburn, NY/Auburn) scored 14.
Penn State Berks (11-13 overall, 9-5 NEAC)
The Lions from Berks earned the unenviable task of facing Morrisville in the second semifinal matchup thanks to their 67-62 victory over Gallaudet in the tournament's first round game Tuesday night. Penn State Harrisburg split the season series with Berks, winning the first matchup 81-79 on Dec. 3 thanks to a Gatchell buzzer-beater, before falling to the opposing Lions on the road 88-83 on Feb. 15. Alston had one of his best games of the year in the blue and white's pre-Christmas win, netting 23 and grabbing ten boards. Gatchell finished with 14 while Jones and Glenn each scored ten points. David Reisinger (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin East) scored a game-high 27 tallies in last week's defeat while Jones netted 26, including his 1,000th career point. Unfortunately it was not enough, as six Berks' players hit the double-digit points mark. Shawn Green (Philadelphia, PA/Germantown) led the way with 22 while second-team all-conference selection Jeff Schmidt (Orefield, PA/Parkland) chipped in with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Penn State Harrisburg's first tournament contest takes place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 against North Division runner-up Wells. The Lions will have revenge on their minds as the Express knocked off the blue and white in last year's NEAC championship final and snatched the NCAA tourney bid away from Penn State Harrisburg in an overtime heartbreaker. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Morrisville State/Penn State Berks matchup at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26 in the tourney's championship game. The eventual NEAC champion goes dancing.
Those who would like to follow the Lions this weekend can stream their games live at http://www.livesportsvideo.com/. Updates will also be available on Morrisville State's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/morrisvillestatecollegeathletics?ref=ts.