By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
A pair of freshmen gave a glimpse into the future of Susquehanna University men’s basketball Saturday night.
Brandon Hedley and Josh Miller scored 15 and 12 points, respectively, with Hedley going 5-for-9 from behind the arc, but it wasn’t enough to send out the SU seniors on a winning note. The Crusaders fell 79-73 to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Houts Gymnasium.
Five Crusaders, including Shamokin High graduate Scott Marcinek, played their final home game Saturday.
The Crusaders trailed by four points (31-27) at halftime. The teams combined for 94 second-half points.
“We let them get away from us in the second half,” Susquehanna coach Frank Marcinek said. “I thought we were getting close to being knocked out, but the two freshmen stepped up and got us some offense.”
The freshmen scored all of their points in the second half.
“We are a perimeter shooting team but we haven’t been able to get inside pressure all year,” Marcinek added.
The Mariners (14-11, 7-7 Landmark) upped the lead to many as 16 on a Preston Padgett 3-pointer with 11:44 left in the second half.
Less than a half-minute later, Hedley connected on the first of his five second-half threes to start the Crusaders’ comeback.
Susquehanna cut the lead to two, 73-71, as Hedley hit an off-balance three — landing on his back while the ball was still in flight — with 1:35 to play. The Crusaders used a 7-0 run prior to that 3-pointer to cut into the deficit.
Senior Harvey Pannell also scored 15 points for the Crusaders.
Susquehanna (9-16, 5-9) forged a lead as wide as six points early in the first half.
It was the eighth time this season the Crusaders had scored 70 or more points in a game.
“We were 5-of-11 from the free-throw line in the first half and 15-of-16 in the second half,” Marcinek noted. “We need three guys to score in double figures and we’ve been working on getting to 70 points.”
Reed Buck, the Landmark Conference’s leading scorer, poured in a game-high 20 points in 27 minutes. He was the only Mariner in double figures.
When Scott Marcinek was introduced during the senior ceremony prior to the game, the student body greeted him with a familiar “Shamokin! Shamokin!” chant.
“That chant started back when I was in high school and it followed me for all four years here at Susquehanna,” he said. “It was a little emotional talking with my dad in the locker room afterwards and my old high school coach was at the door when I came of the floor. It’s not how you would envision it would end, but it was a pretty good career.”
Although the prospects of working for a major business corporation like JP Morgan is a high priority, the younger Marcinek is not ruling out the possibility of coaching one day.
“Our younger players played well and there’s some good talent in the junior class as well,” he said.
Scott Marcinek played 16 minutes in his final home game and tallied four points and two rebounds.
The other seniors honored included J.T. Wilson, E.J. Duncan, Brendan Rezny and Pannell.