Knights jump to early lead, can’t hang on in defeat to Manor College

By Andrew Hunter

Knightly News Sports Reporter

The Central Penn College men’s basketball team faced off against the Manor College Blue Jays at East Pennsboro Area High School in a heated battle on White Out Night, with the Knights dropping a dramatic contest, 87-80.

Manor College came out with a lot of intensity to start the game, but the Knights quickly matched and overcame it in the first half. Central Penn was on fire in the first, led by the dynamic duo of forwards Jordan Strickland and Quadere Allen, who combined for 30 points on 13-for-14 shooting in the first half. 

The Knights’ defense was swarming Manor College’s offense and forcing big-time turnovers in the first half to force easy buckets in transition for the Knights. The Knights were so solid on defense that they exploded to a 23-point lead, helped mainly by a press defense that confused the Blue Jays in the early going.

But the Knights let the Blue Jays stay in the game. Manor College started to get a groove on offense and defense. They were forcing the Knights to take ill-advised shots and commit turnovers that ultimately helped the Blue Jays stay in this game.

After a slow start, frosh Manny Roach, the team’s scoring leader, hit several clutch baskets down the stretch, tallying 11 points in the first half. While Manor College cut the lead to 10 going into the break, the Knights held a 50-40 lead at the half.

To start the second half, Manor College did not miss a beat, starting with a quick 3-pointer from guard Cheikh Diagne. Manor College kept cutting the Knights’ lead down point by point, as the lead was down to just two with a floater from Namir Simmons at about the five-minute mark of the second half.

For the Knights, Strickland kept the energy high, creating key turnovers and driving to the basket to help the Knights regain their lead. Rodney Ross was also a key factor, hitting two different shots that stopped big runs by Manor College, as well as pulling down six rebounds in the second half.

On the other end, Manor kept its high-intensity game plan going and forced more Knights turnovers. Manor College also started to maintain control of the basketball in the face of the press from Central Penn, which then eliminated the fast-break game that was so crucial for the Knights in the first half.

Midway through the second half, the Knights regained their defensive intensity, forced more turnovers and helped them regain momentum. But Manor College hit a big three by guard Eddie Fortescue. Then, the Blue Jays finally took the lead away from the Knights, with 9:38 remaining in the game.

Still, the game remained a see-saw battle until the final seconds, as the Knights were not done yet. Guard Darius Wallace hit a deep three to regain the lead, but then Manor College responded with a layup to tie the game with about two minutes to go.

In the final minute, the Knights would get a steal from guard Rodney Ross and convert that into a layup to cut the lead to two, but it was not enough for the Blue Jays’ poise at the free-throw line. The Knights ultimately came up short against Manor College, 87-80.

The Knightly News Player of the Game was forward Jordan Strickland, who had 26 points and 15 rebounds. Another key contributor was Wallace, who had 20 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals on the night. 

Manor was led by Roach, who tied for the team lead with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Simmons added 22 points and 11 rebounds.

The Knights will travel to Bucks County Community College in another Eastern States Athletic Conference matchup on Wednesday evening, seeking to continue a strong second half of the season in spite of Tuesday’s loss. Central Penn returns home for the final game of the season on Saturday for Senior Day against Cheyney for a noon tipoff.

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