Cresson, PA – The D'Youville men's basketball team won a crucial game to keep their playoff hopes alive on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Mount Aloysius Mounties by the final score of 91-83.
Neither team would find the bottom of the next in the first 2 minutes of the game, with the Mounties scoring the first 2 points of the contest. Seniors Jon Gemerek (Cheektowaga, NY/Depew) and Nate Sweetman (Johnstown, NY/Johnstown) scored the first 4 points for D'Youville throughout the first 4 minutes of play. The two teams were tied at 7 but Mount Aloysius pulled away to a 14-9 lead with 13:24 left in the half.
Freshman Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Oneida, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) scored 5 consecutive points and tied the game at 14. The Mounties regained a 20-14 lead but Bayani Salinas (Antioch, CA/Antioch) hit back-to-back threes and tied the game at 20-20 with 9:20 remaining in the first half.
Down 28-25, Marcus Clarke (Olean, NY/Archbishop Walsh Academy) and Juan Miguel Rosales (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Village School) combined for 10 points and gave D'Youville a 32-31 lead with 5:12 to go in the half. Mount Aloysius regained their lead with under a minute remaining but with 0:01 left in the half, Sweetman converted an and-one play to give the Spartans a 43-42 lead going into the lockerrooms.
The Mounties opened the second half with a 7-point lead over the Spartans before the D'Youville offense got rolling. Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) tied the game at 59-59 with 13:15 to go in the game, but Aloysius would regain the lead on their next possession. They would then extend their lead to 67-59 after scoring 8 unanswered points.
D'Youville climbed right back in the game with 8 unanswered points of their own, tying the game at 67. Steve Kunelius (Oswego, NY/Oswego) gave the Spartans the 70-69 lead on a made three pointer, but the Mounties would answer right back and retake the lead.
With 4:18 left in the game, Gemerek broke a 79-79 tie and gave the Spartans an 81-79 lead. Exactly a minute later, Kunelius hit another three to extend D'Youville's lead to 5. Down the stretch, Clarke and Socha would combine 7 made free throws to help clinch the Spartan's victory over the Mounties by the final score of 91-83.
"This was a big win for us for four reasons," said Head Coach Earl Schunk. "First, it stopped a losing streak and got us back on track; second, we overcame second half adversity and great offense by Mount Aloysius to come back and win; third, we had a lot of players step up big at crucial times; and fourth, it keeps us in the hunt for playoffs. This makes Wednesday a big game for us."
Marcus Clarke was a leader for the team in several categories in Saturday's big win. He led the team with 15 points, 5 assists. 27 minutes and tied for the team high in rebounds with 7. Clarke's 7 rebounds were tied with freshman Jake Socha who added 12 points off the bench. Starting his second consecutive game, Juan Miguel Rosales led all starters with 14 points, adding 4 rebounds.
All of D'Youville's starting 5 recorded at least 2 points and 3 rebounds. Jon Gemerek and Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) each grabbed 4 rebounds, while Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville) grabbed 3. VanAuken and Nate Sweetman each had 9 points and 2 assists. Off the bench, Steve Kunelius went 4-5 from the field and 3-4 from behind the arc for 11 points.
D'Youville will look to continue to keep their playoff hopes alive, returning home on Wednesday, February 10th to play the Pitt.-Bradford Panthers at 6pm in the College Center Gym.