MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – In the game of basketball, a strong starting five is paramount to a team's success. Even more important to amassing that success is a squad's depth.
On Thursday night, Dec. 6, a talented group reserves stole the show and led Penn State Harrisburg to a 76-65 victory over Lancaster Bible in the teams' 2012-13 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) opener in front of an electric crowd at the Capital Union Building.
Freshman Frank D'Amadeo (East Patchogue, N.Y. / Bellport) displayed tenacious defense and hustled on both ends of the floor. Sophomore sharpshooter Ethan Strayer (East Petersburg, Pa. / Hempfield) knocked-down three-straight buckets from beyond the arc in the first half alone.
But it was Thristan Lundy (Philadelphia, Pa. / Samuel Fels) who outdid them all. After missing the team's first six games, the senior returned with a vengeance in his first outing of the year, recording a double-double and scoring a game-high 16 points in just 20 minutes of play.
Thanks to the play of these Lions, the rest of the bench and Harrisburg's starting lineup, the Blue and White hit the visiting Chargers with an all-around attack they just couldn't handle on this night.
Sophomore big man Kevin Icker (Scranton, Pa. / Scranton Prep) made a layup 15 seconds into the contest to put the home team on the board first.
Lancaster Bible's Corey Leonard hit a jumper to put his squad up 6-4 at the 16:34 mark. The Chargers would never lead again.
In just 6:42, Penn State Harrisburg outscored the visitors 14-2. Four-straight points from Lundy and back-to-back three-balls by Strayer capped the crucial first half run from which Lancaster Bible never fully recovered.
Senior captain Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central) converted an acrobatic reverse layup in transition to increase the Lions' lead to 28-14 with 4:49 left before the break. Moments later, freshman Arick Sodini (Manalapan, N.J. / St. John Vianney) converted two free throws to give Harrisburg its biggest advantage of the half at 21 points.
Versatile sophomore Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) put the Lions ahead by 22, their largest lead of the game, when he netted a jumper from three-point land a minute and a half into the second period.
Following Doyle's impressive crossover/layup combination that brought oohs and awes reigning down upon the court and made the score 70-49 in favor of Harrisburg, the Chargers made a mini-push to cut the deficit to nine points.
But with less than a minute remaining in the game, Lancaster Bible's late run proved far too little too late. Penn State Harrisburg sophomore Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) hit a foul shot with five seconds left on the clock to finalize the score and clinch the Lions' first conference victory of the season.
Lundy was impressive. For a young man who just rejoined the team earlier this week in practice, the Philadelphia native showed no signs of rust. In addition to his 16 tallies, he collected a game-high ten rebounds, dished out two assists, blocked one shot and swiped a steal.
Farthing had a big night as well, scoring 12 points, pulling-in seven boards, assisting on two buckets and recording two steals. Strayer netted 13 points and missed just one three-point attempt, going 4-5 from downtown.
Gatchell was his usual energetic self, dropping 11 on the Chargers and swiping a game-high five steals. The Lions' floor general needs just 80 points to become the fourth player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark.
D'Amadeo made the most of 12 minutes of playing time, converting two from the charity stripe and adding three steals. Doyle and Sodini scored seven points apiece. Doyle added five rebounds and four assists while Icker netted six and grabbed three boards.
The balanced victory improved Harrisburg's overall record to 3-4 on the season and 1-0 in all-important NEAC play. The Lions next game, against Penn State Berks on Saturday, Dec. 8, will be a battle for first place in the league's South Division.