On a day in which Penn State New Kensington seniors Dorian Broadwater (Homestead, Pa/Steel Valley) and Brandon Burchette (Tarentum, Pa/Highlands) were honored for their careers, New Ken appeared poised to snap its lengthy skid. Despite holding a lead in the final five minutes, however, homestanding New Kensington could not hang on, as Hazleton notched a 70-66 victory on Saturday afternoon.
The defeat, the 10th straight for New Ken, drops its record to 4-16 overall, and 2-13 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. Hazleton, meanwhile, improves to 8-13 overall, 7-8 in PSUAC action.
New Kensington started well in its final home game of the season, as it led for almost the entire first half. Just hours after his dominance performance last night, junior Keith Corbett (Silver Springs, Md/Methodist University) again was the catalyst for New Kensington, as he snagged an incredible 15 rebounds in the first half. His performance on the glass, combined with 11 points from Antonio Hill (West Mifflin, Pa/West Mifflin), helped stake their squad to a 34-27 edge at the intermission.
Although Hazleton responded early in the second half to pull even at 42-42, New Kensington regained the upper hand courtesy of a 7-0 run, during which Ian Swartz (Natrona Heights, Pa/CCAC) made a pair of baskets and Broadwater nailed a three-pointer.
With five minutes remaining, New Kensington held a 59-55 lead, but nine consecutive points by the Hazelton duo of Aaron Kellmer and Shay Nelson staked the visitors to their first lead since the opening minute of the game. PSU Hazleton hit its foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.
Despite New Kensington's decided advantage in rebounding, Hazleton shot better overall from the floor, behind the arc, and at the foul line, while also committing six fewer turnovers.
While the outcome was disappointing for New Kensington, the focus of the day was on Broadwater and Burchette, who were playing in their final home contest. Broadwater surpassed the 1,000-point mark in his career earlier this season, just the fourth player from Penn State New Kensington in the past 14 years to reach the milestone, while Burchette has been recognized for his academic achievements as a student-athlete.
In the defeat to Hazleton, Burchette earned the start but failed to score. Broadwater, who has been a fixture in the starting lineup, fouled out late in the contest, finishing with nine points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"For him to have to come in every day and give us that type of production throughout his time here says a lot," Penn State New Kensington coach Arthur McCray Jr. said of Broadwater. "I'm really proud of Dorian and what he's done; really proud of Brandon and what he's done for our program. The other big thing, for me, is that they've done it the right way.
"I'm proud of them keeping their grades up, what they've done on the floor, and that's going to take them a long way," McCray continued.
Hill finished the game as the top scorer for New Ken, as he netted 15 points and six rebounds. Corbett recorded another double-double with 11 points and 18 rebounds, and Juwan Willis (Swissvale, Pa/Woodland Hills) chipped in 11 points and a game-high nine assists.
Reserve Shay Nelson paced Hazleton with 16 points, while Nick Nowak scored 15, Kellmer added 12 and Brandon Mohammed contributed 10 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks.
PSU New Kensington concludes its season with a road contest at Penn State Beaver on Monday at 7 p.m., while Hazleton returns home to face Penn State Mont Alto on Monday at 8 p.m.