Pittsburgh, NY – The D'Youville men's basketball team earned their first conference win of the season Saturday afternoon over the La Roche Redhawks by the final score of 83-77.
Each team's offense would start off slowly to begin the game. D'Youville wouldn't score their first basket until 4:21 had ticked off the clock. Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Oneida, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherill) scored the first basket of the game for the Spartans and Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) hit a three to give D'Youville an early lead. The team would start taking the ball to the hoop often, with their next 6 baskets coming on layups.
Tied at 17-17 with 9:09 to go in the first half, the Redhawks would pull away from the Spartans. Over the next several minutes, La Roche would score 13 unanswered points and take a 30-17 lead with 5:33 to go. However, D'Youville was resilient and fought their way back into the game. Down by 13, Steve Kunelius (Oswego, NY/Oswego) and Marcus Clarke (Olean, NY/Archbishop Walsh Academy) hit back-to-back three pointers to close the gap to 7.
La Roche would get a 10 point lead back with 2:46 remaining in the half, but D'Youville held the Redhawks scoreless from there on and scored 7 points of their own to trail at halftime 37-34.
The beginning of the second half was taken over by the D'Youville seniors. Conor Gallivan (Elma, NY/Iroquois) scored a jumper to bring the Spartans to within 1, followed by a three-pointer from Nate Sweetman (Johnstown, NY/Johnstown). Jon Gemerek (Cheektowaga, NY/Depew) made a layup and then hit a free throw to tie the game at 44-44 with 16:21 remaining in the game.
Sophomore Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville) drilled a three-pointer just over two minutes later and the Spartans retook the lead. The D'Youville freshman then helped extend their team's lead over the next several possessions. VanDuluitgaarden and Juan Miguel Rosales (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Village School) combined to score the next 8 points; all on layups. D'Youville's lead was pushed to 55-48 with 12:36 to go after the freshmen scoring run.
As the Redhawks closed their deficit to 1 point, Blask scored 5 consecutive points and gave D'Youville a 6 point lead. With 4:27 remaining in the game, La Roche was within 2 points of tying the Spartans but Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) scored 4 points to go with a three from Clarke and the lead was back to 9. Down the stretch, the 4 D'Youville seniors all made at least one free throw to clinch the game for D'Youville as they won by the final score of 83-77.
"We played a good first half on defense and just needed some shots to fall," said Head Coach Earl Schunk. "Luckily we shot the ball well in the second half and came up with some great possessions on both ends of the floor to secure the win," Schunk added.
Zach Blask led the team in scoring with 17 points off the bench. Marcus Clarke and Jake Socha each added 10 points, with Nate Sweetman and Will VanAuken scoring 7 points as well. Socha led the team with 9 rebounds in the game; while Sweetman had a team high 7 assists.
Conor Gallivan and freshman Juan Miguel Rosales each had 6 points in the game. Senior and captain Jon Gemerek scored his 1000th point in the game. Gemerek is the third player in program history to score 1000 points and the one of two active players with over 1000 points. The second player is Clarke.
Of the 13 players who saw time Saturday afternoon, 11 recorded at least 3 points and 11 recorded at least one rebound. Schunk attributes a large portion of the team's victory to getting his team's depth back.
"It was great to finally be at full strength," said Coach Schunk. "I believe it was a big factor as we had great contributions off the bench."
Seeing their first action of the season after coming back from injury were Bayani Salinas (Antioch, NY/Antioch) and Andrew Steele (Lakewood, OH/Lakewood). Matt Insley (Wellsville, NY/Wellsville) hit his only shot attempt in the game, which was a three-pointer.
The Spartans will play their final game before break on Monday, December 14th at Hilbert. The game begins at 6pm.