The Elizabethtown College men’s basketball season has come to an end. Unfortunately, the end did not come the way the team had hoped. With a few key players out from injury or sickness, it was tough for the team to hold its bearings.
Senior Brian Allport and junior Tom Cooney were both out for the entire season due to ACL injuries. On top of that, sophomore Joe Schwalm, who had been a leading scorer, came down with pneumonia before the game against Lycoming College and was unable to play in the last two games of the season. Sophomore Andrew Mantz, the top scorer next to Schwalm, was also out with a sprained ankle for the Lycoming game, along with first-year Phil Wenger, who injured his tailbone.
On Feb. 14, despite these setbacks, the men played a close game against playoff hopefuls the Lycoming Warriors. The two teams had battled it out earlier in the season in what some could argue was Etown’s best win of the season. Like the last time they met, the game was close, but the most-recent match-up ended in Lycoming’s favor. The teams were head-to-head throughout most of the game, before Lycoming pulled ahead in the final seconds, ending the game with a score of 69-68.
Etown had been in control of the game until the last few minutes of the first half, when they fell behind 33-31. They came back determined and battled the Warriors through the whole second half, though neither team was able to gain a solid lead.
Etown remained hopeful, despite their injuries. “We believed that we could still win,” junior Ben Cable said. “We knew that if we played harder than them and out-hustled them, it would be a good game. We also had to make a strong effort to get more rebounds. Mantz, Schwalm and Wenger all are great rebounders.”
First-year Lee Eckert’s layup allowed a 68-67 Etown lead with just over one minute left. This lead continued right up to the last six seconds when a shooting foul was called on the Blue Jays. Lycoming’s Jerald Williams made both of his free throws, putting the Warriors in the lead by one point.
A final shot was attempted at the buzzer by Etown’s top scorer of the game, Cable, who came up just short. Despite an upsetting loss, Cable put up 34 points, which was a career high for him as a Blue Jay, and tied the school record for the most 3-point shots in a game for the second time. Besides Cable’s seven 3-pointers, he also had nine rebounds and went 9-12 from the foul line.
Etown went up against Messiah College four days later. Unfortunately, this game was not as close as the one against Lycoming had been. “We knew that Messiah was a tough team,” Cable said. “They always do a great job of scouting us and knowing exactly what we are going to do on offense and on defense.”
Messiah pulled out with a quick 7-0 lead within the first few minutes after Messiah’s Dwayne Allgyer hit a 3-point shot. Messiah remained fierce the entire time, never allowing Etown to close the gap any considerable amount. The teams went into halftime with Messiah leading 38-24.
Cable, who put up 61 points in the last two games, was once again Etown’s top scorer, with 13 points. First-year Will Schlosser followed close behind with eight points, and sophomore David Feuz, who had put up nine points against Lycoming, put up another six against Messiah.
Despite Etown’s efforts, the Jays were unable to close the gap. The Falcons not only scored nine of their first 11 points in the second half, enlarging the gap to 47-26, but they also managed to outrebound the Jays 39-18. Messiah continued to increase the gap, and won their last home game of the season 72-47.
While the Etown men were upset about the outcome, they have nothing to regret. “I don’t know if we could have done better. We played really hard the last two games,” Eckert said.
The game against Messiah was the final one for seniors Kyle McConnell and Dan Silver. “Not enough can be said about Kyle and Dan,” Cable said. “They are both great leaders, and always work extremely hard. That will carry with them into their careers, and I know that they will both be very successful in whatever they do after college.”