Story by Penn State Harrisburg's Kenny Stone
FREDRICK, Md. - In the opening game of the 2013 Rotary of Fredrick Holiday Classic, Penn State Harrisburg played one of its most entertaining games of the young season against Southern Vermont. In a game that saw seven ties, seven lead changes and two overtimes, the Lions unfortunately came up agonizingly short in their effort to make it to the tourney's championship game, falling 88-84.
In defeat, however, Harrisburg showed tremendous character and heart as they had plenty of chances to give up in the second half but they refused.
The Lions were once again led by their senior captain Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) who put up a career-high 40 points. Doyle made big play after big play the entire night. In the first half, with his team down nine, he capped an 11-0 run with five straight points and gave the Lions back the lead at 29-27. The Lions went into the locker room leading 32-29 at the half.
Southern Vermont started the second half on a 16-3 run to take their largest lead to that point at 45-35. Then Doyle made two straight three pointers to pull Penn State Harrisburg to within five at 46-41.
Southern Vermont went on what could have been the decisive run of the game when a Jermaine Campbell layup gave them their biggest lead of the game at 57-43.
While Southern Vermont seemingly had the game in hand, Penn State Harrisburg refused to roll over.
First, Doyle made a layup and then a free throw. Then Winton Lyle (Washington, D.C. / Bullis School) chipped in with a couple free throws to pull the Lions within nine. While all five guys contributed on the defensive end, Doyle took control of the game offensively. He went on a personal 8-0 run to pull the Lions within one point at 57-56. Then after two made free throws by Rayshawn Taylor, Doyle was fouled while shooting a three pointer with less than a second left. As he has all season, he coolly came through in crunch time and made all three free throws, sending the game into overtime.
In the first extra session, after Southern Vermont took a one point lead on an Antoine White free throw, Marquese Daniels (Wyncote, Pa. / Philadelphia Electric & Technology Charter) helped the Lions regain a three point advantage after he drained a jump shot from the top of the key.
After an old-fashioned three point play by Deshawn Hamlet tied the game at 65, Logan Stovall (Palmyra, Pa. / Palmyra Area) answered with a three-point play of his own to give the Lions a 68-65 lead.
After another Southern Vermont score, Daniels hit a free throw to give Penn State Harrisburg a two point lead. Antoine White made a three pointer to give Southern Vermont a 70-69 lead, followed by another Melton layup to put Southern Vermont up 72-69.
But Doyle struck again when he made a tough three pointer right in front of the Penn State Harrisburg bench to tie the game at 72.
Taylor broke the scoring seal in the second overtime when he made two free throws and then a layup to give his team a four point lead. Stovall brought the Lions within two after he made a layup but unfortunately for Penn State Harrisburg that was as close as they would get as Southern Vermont outscored the Lions 16-12 in the second extra session.
Doyle was simply outstanding and his 40 tallies set a new program benchmark. His point total is the highest for any Penn State Harrisburg player since the Lions became a full NCAA member in 2010.
The Lions will look to bounce back from the heartbreaking defeat when they take part in the tournament's consolation game. Penn State Harrisburg takes on Bryn Athyn on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.