By Andrew Hunter
Knightly News Sports Reporter
The Central Penn College Knights men’s basketball team defeated the Bucks County Community College Centurions in an Eastern States Athletic Conference matchup on Saturday afternoon, 87-85.
The game started with a swift tempo from both teams. Based on their overall hustle and demeanor in the first half, you could tell this was a very highly anticipated game on both sides of the ball.
The Knights came out in 1-2-1-1 press, which has been successful the last few games. It helped the Knights not allow a score from Bucks County Community College until the 17:20 minute mark, as both teams struggled to score.
The Knights’ defense was truly remarkable during the game. Early in the first half, Riley Young took back-to-back charges to help force turnovers, and Rodney Ross was very active in the passing lanes.
When the Knights would force Bucks County Community College to take ill-advised shots, the Centurions would dominate the offensive boards or at least make it hard for a Knights player to bring a rebound down. Bucks County Community College had nine offensive rebounds in the first half.
Toward the end of the half, the Knights continued to play even more stellar defense and started to put the ball in the basket. Over the last 1:30 in the first half, the Knights ballooned their lead to nine points, capped off by an exhilarating 3-pointer from guard Anthony McClinton at the end of the half. The Knights led 43-34 going into the intermission.
To start the second half, the Centurions came out in the same press as the Knights, a 1-2-1-1. This press helped them cut the Knights lead to three within the first five minutes. Bucks County Community College forward Jaquis Heath could not miss inside in the paint and outside the 3-point line, tallying 16 points in the second half alone.
The Centurions would take over the lead at the 14-minute mark, but as the Knights tried to respond, they also became a little sloppy with passes. Bucks County Community College extended the lead to five at around the halfway point of the second half.
It was at this time that they picked up their defense and focused on the rebounding, and forward Jordan Strickland was the Knights’ leading man. Strickland could not be stopped on the boards, totaling 17 rebounds in the game, and was a major factor in keeping the Centurions off of the offensive glass. He did more than rebound, though. He was the main factor in the Knights’ comeback from their deficit. He continuously kept getting fouled and making contested shots inside. He would help the Knights crawl back and get a lead as big as 11 over Bucks County Community College.
The game was not over, even when the Knights had their biggest lead. On the offensive end, they became sloppy with the ball and that turned into turnovers for the Centurions, and they turned those into buckets. Quadere Allen received a technical foul late in the game, which then turned into two points for Bucks County Community College, and now the lead was down to five.
After a missed free throw from Ross, Heath hit a huge 3-pointer to put the game within two. To answer McClinton hit another shot, turning the lead into four, but then Bucks County Community College sunk two more free throws.
On the ensuing possession, Bucks County Community College fouled Strickland, but he missed his free throw and gave Bucks an opportunity to win or tie the game at the buzzer. They attempted a three, but it did not fall, and the Knights won a fantastic contest with an ESAC rival, 87-85.
The win, which improved the Knights record to 8-15, was their sixth in a row, including three straight victories in conference play. With this run, Central Penn College is still in the mix for the ESAC conference title game.
The Knightly News Player of the Game was Strickland, as he was a dominant force on both sides of the ball, dropping 22 points and 17 rebounds. Ross also had one of his better games of the season, adding 21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals.
Bucks County Community College was led by Heath, who had 22 points and 9 rebounds. Guard Elijah Bryant also added 21, but it was his inability to hit the 3-point shot throughout the game that kept the game close, as the Centurions’ leading scorer on the season went 1-for-12 from beyond the arc.
After this win, the Knights will look to extend their winning streak to seven games as they travel to Christendom College on Thursday night. They will return home on Feb. 20 against Manor College.
The photography for this game was done by Dylan Bowman of Fellowship Studios. For more information about Fellowship Studios, check out https://www.fellowship-studios.com/.