Hard work and dedication seldom go unnoticed in life. Such is often the case in competitive athletics as well, a lesson not lost on this year's Penn State Wilkes-Barre Men's Basketball Team: early Wednesday afternoon, February 24, the Mountain Lions were officially extended an invitation to compete in this year's United States Colligate Athletic Association's (USCAA) National Championship Tournament.
Just two days after dropping a tough 5-point decision in the team's first ever league Final Four appearance, the team learned that their season was not yet over. Finishing strong through the end of the season, the Mountain Lions won seven of their last ten games, with five of the seven wins against nationally ranked opponents, and one of the losses at NCAA Division III Alfred University.
The strong finish propelled the squad into the top 10 national rankings in the final USCAA Coaches Poll to the number nine spot, the team's first ever top 10 finish, and was enough to convince the USCAA Tournament Selection Committee that the Mountain Lions were worthy of a spot in the tournament.
With 10 teams from six different states selected to participate in the tournament, Head Coach Scott Miner knows that every team in the tournament will be very talented. The Mountain Lions' first round opponent, the University of Maine-Augusta Moose, features 6'6" 270 pound center Moses Brathwaite. The talented sophomore leads the USCAA in rebounding and averages 24.4 points per game.
At this point in the season, however, Miner isn't about to make any drastic changes. "We will continue to do what has gotten us to this point, we will play hard and we will enjoy the experience at the same time," Miner said. "I told the guys to bring their cameras and to cherish the opportunity. This is their reward for all the hard work they have done this year. We will make adjustments during the game as we need to, but I'm sure they [Maine-Augusta] will have to make adjustments to what we do as well."
The Mountain Lions' first round game against Maine-Augusta is scheduled for Wednesday, March 3 at 8:00 a.m. The game can be heard live via the USCAA Division II Championship Tournament website, (www.theuscaa.com). The winner will advance to play top-seeded Williamson University on Thursday, March 4 at 8:00 p.m.
Written by Mike Truskoloski
PSU Wilkes-Barre Men's Basketball