Knights pick up a key victory against ESAC rival Williamson Trade

Team picks up its first home win of the season

By Andrew Hunter

Knightly News Sports Reporter

In the final game of the 2023 home schedule for Knights basketball, Central Penn faced off against the Williamson College of the Trades Mechanics and defeated them 84-57 on Tuesday night at East Pennsboro Middle School. 

Before the game, Central Penn Athletics honored forward Quadere Allen for achieving the coveted 1,000-point milestone. Allen said about his achievement, “Super blessed, great opportunity, great experience.”

To start the game, neither team could buy a basket until Allen had a physical layup to start the scoring for the Knights. On the defensive end, Central Penn brought a lot of pressure on the Mechanics, which is what Knights coach Gary Martin wanted.

“If we come out (and) put pressure on them, play hard D (defense), we will put ourselves in a good situation for the half,” Martin said.

Knights forward Jordan Strickland set the tone for the Knights in the first half. Strickland scored 10 points in the half and was the leading man on defense, adding two steals to his 10 rebounds. 

The Knights were not the only ones putting on a stellar defensive display. The Mechanics had several blocks in the game’s first seven minutes and forced costly turnovers for the Knights. Abdoulaye Diallo had two key blocks, while Robert Whiley added seven rebounds in the first half.

Scoring for the Knights was sparked by Strickland, with a highlight reel ankle-breaker move where he converted on the mid-range jumper. But the Mechanics did not lay down, having an answer for every Knights basket. 

Another key contributor on the glass was point guard Rodney Ross, who had eight rebounds in the first half, also chipping in two assists, two steals and a block.

At the end of the half, the Knights held the lead, 30-29.

In a memorable halftime show, the Knightly News sponsored a “Halftime Half-Court” shot contest, allowing members of the crowd to attempt a half-court shot to win a $25 Pizza Corner gift card. While no one hit the shot, students and staff agreed it was a unique aspect of the game for the home crowd.

The Knights settled into the second half quickly, as Allen took a physical charge, which seemed to turn the tide in the favor of the Knights.

Two players for the Knights made a significant impact in the second half, as junior Anthony McClinton and freshman Darius Wallace played their best half of the season.

Thanks to several buckets from McClinton in the early stages of the second half, the Knights jumped out to a lead as big as nine. But Williamson Trade didn’t go away, with Liam Rardin hitting a clutch 3-point basket and the Knights making consecutive turnovers. After a 7-0 run of their own, Williamson Trade came within two points. But that would be as close as it would get in the second half. 

From there, the Knights got a huge spark from Wallace, coming up huge on both sides of the ball, giving the Knights energy to pull away from the Mechanics. Wallace was hitting big shots on the offensive side and getting steals on the defensive side. After the game, Wallace said, “Everything was falling; our team was playing well, and I was just confident.”

Martin had some words about his freshman guard: “Shooting, passing, playing defensive, it was great to see how he played today.”

Because of the stellar offensive output from McClinton and Wallace and several defensive stops from Strickland and Allen, the Knights would raise their lead to 20.

Martin’s team continued to apply the pressure in the second half, with Central Penn taking home the victory, 84-57.

As the Knights forced 26 turnovers in the contest, Martin praised his three guards, saying, “Rodney, Q (Quadere Allen) and Anthony (were) up top the way they chased. Then we felt comfortable with Kaeden and Jordan back there and put pressure on them.”

The Knightly News Player of the Game was Wallace, who had 13 points (all in the second half), four steals and an assist. He was integral to the Knights, turning the momentum in their favor and reaching an insurmountable lead in the second half.

But the story for the Knights was the all-around team effort, with five players in double figures in scoring. Strickland had 16 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Knights in both categories. McClinton and Allen added 15 points, while Ross contributed 12 points and nine rebounds.

For Williamson Trade, Robert Whiley scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss. Rardin chipped in 13 points and six rebounds.

For the Knights, this victory marked the first for either the men’s or women’s team this season at home. Central Penn improved to 2-11, though the Knights are 2-0 in the Eastern States Athletic Conference (ESAC).

The Knights conclude their first-half schedule on Dec. 18 at Penn State-Wilkes-Barre. They will return home after the new year, on Jan. 13, against Christendom.

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