Knights men play tight game in home opener, outlasted by Penn State-Lehigh Valley

By Andrew Hunter

Knightly News Sports Reporter

The Central Penn College men’s basketball team came up short in a contest against Penn State-Lehigh Valley, 98-82, on Tuesday night at East Pennsboro Middle School in Enola.

To start the game, the Knights had an early four-point lead in the first quarter, which was led by two 3-pointers by guard Rodney Ross and guard Anthony McClinton. A few plays later, Lehigh Valley responded with two quick transition buckets to tie the game.

The game became a battle of defenses for the next couple of minutes as both teams were creating turnovers, forcing missed shots and getting key defensive rebounds. At the 12-minute mark, though, Lehigh Valley began to get their rhythm offensively as they hit a quick layup, forced the Knights to shoot a three-pointer early in the shot clock, got the rebound, then hit a 3-pointer to extend their lead to seven.

The Knights kept knocking on the door with 3-pointers by Ross and Quadere Allen. Lehigh Valley then kept driving to the basket aggressively and would have easy chances at the hoop. The Knights did have a huge spark off the bench in freshman forward Riley Young, as he had an offensive rebound, and then hit a significant 3-pointer on the next play to put the Knights within three.

Later in the half, Lehigh Valley’s Arnel Lewis would knock down a 3-pointer to extend the lead to seven and then, on the next possession, hit a jump shot to get the team’s largest lead of the half, of nine. Again, the Knights would chip away at their deficit by hitting easy opportunities at the basket and converting their free throws.

 To conclude the first half, both teams went back and forth on high-energy baskets and competed even harder on the defensive end. Lehigh Valley led at the half, 44-41. The duo of Ross and Allen combined for 25 points in the first half.

To start the second half, the name of the game for Lehigh Valley was forcing the Knights into difficult shots and then converting those mistakes into points. Within the first five minutes of the half, Lehigh Valley scored 16 points off wide-open threes and transition layups.

For the Knights, forward Jordan Stickland came alive. He dominated the low post with 16 points and contributed seven rebounds in the second half. He added many momentum-shifting finishes and dunks around the rim.

Still, Lehigh Valley kept getting stops, including a dynamic block on Strickland on a dunk attempt. That killed the momentum for the Knights, and Lehigh Valley started to run away with the game. The Knights had opportunities to close the gap but shot only 40.5% from the field to Penn State-Lehigh Valley’s 51.9%.

At the 10-minute mark of the second half, Lehigh Valley began pulling away with their lockdown defense and tenacity in the paint. To close out the game, Lehigh Valley kept forcing turnovers to seal this game, winning, 98-82.

Knights guard Khalil Dukes stated after the game, “We need to start doing the little things, on and off the court. Once we start doing them, we will become the team we want to be.”

The Knightly News Player of the Game was Allen, who had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Strickland added 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Ross dropped 17 points and dished out 9 assists.

For Penn State Lehigh-Valley, Nas Ruhani led all scorers with 30 points, also grabbing eight rebounds. Arnel Lewis also added 23 points and seven rebounds.

With the loss, the Knights fell to 1-5 on the young season, while Penn State Lehigh-Valley improved to 5-1.

The next time the Knights will take the court ix Sunday at East Pennsboro High School as they take on Berkeley College. That game can be seen on the Knightly News YouTube Channel, starting at 2 p.m.

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