Lions Drop Holiday Tourney Opener

Lions Drop Holiday Tourney Opener

FREDERICK, Md.Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central) netted 17 points and Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) added ten tallies but the Lions could not overcome St. Vincent's sharpshooting from beyond the arc as Penn State Harrisburg fell to the Bearcats 78-68 in the first game of Hood College's Rotary Holiday Classic on Saturday night, Dec. 29.  The Blue and White will face Mt. Aloysius in the tournament's consolation game Sunday afternoon.

The early-going saw an up-tempo contest that favored Harrisburg and the Lions jumped out a quick 4-0 advantage thanks to buckets by Gatchell and Alberto De Los Santos (Enola, Pa. / East Pennsboro).

St. Vincent fought back and made a run, eventually taking its largest lead of the half when Dillon Stith hit a three-ball to make it 14-8 at the 13:45 mark.    

Penn State Harrisburg was not done, however.  Five-straight points from Gatchell and a long-distance jumper by De Los Santos put the Lions back in front 18-16.

Doyle got going and converted layups on back-to-back possessions, stretching the lead to five.  Harrisburg took its largest lead of the game, 30-23, when Gatchell knocked-down a jumper with 5:38 left in the first half.

The Bearcats' Ben Klimchock single-handedly kept St. Vincent in the game thanks to his three-point shooting.  His pair of jumpers from beyond the arc late in the half swung the advantage back in the favor of his team at 34-32.

Gatchell hit a layup with :55 remaining before the break and the Blue and White took a 36-35 lead into halftime.

The Lions shot a steady 54.8 percent from the field in the first half but the difference in the contest proved to be the team's inability to keep up that pace in the second.  After the break, Harrisburg shot a mere 33.3 percent while St. Vincent went 54.5 percent from the field and 60 percent from downtown.

Leading by a slim margin at 50-48, the Bearcats got a spark when Klimchock converted a rare four-point play.  From there, St. Vincent slowly started to pull away.

Trailing by as many as 11, Harrisburg tried to climb back into it.  Julius Brown (McComb, Miss. / McComb) converted a pair of free throws and Arick Sodini (Manalapan, N.J. / St. John Vianney) laid one in to cut the deficit to seven with 9:25 left in the game.

The Lions went cold in crunch time, however, and went over five minutes without making a field goal down the stretch.  That inability to make a much-needed run when it mattered most sealed Penn State Harrisburg's fate.

The Bearcats hit an impressive ten three-pointers compared to just two from the Blue and White.  Klimchock had no conscience and shot lights out, going 6-7 from long distance on his way to a game-high 21 points. 

Gatchell was extremely efficient for Harrisburg, totaling his 17 on an 8-10 shooting performance.  The senior also added four assists and four steals.  The point guard's countdown to 1,000 is nearly complete as The Gatch needs just 11 points to achieve the historic feat.

Doyle took just five shots, hitting three field goals and four foul shots to tally his ten.  De Los Santos and Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds apiece while Sodini netted eight off the bench.

The defeat dropped Penn State Harrisburg to 4-7 on the year and extended the team's recent losing-skid to three games.  The Lions will look to end that trend against the Mounties tomorrow at 1 p.m.