Rashod Ballard went to the free throw line and sunk both of his shots with five seconds left to push the Wilkes-Barre lead to 51-48 and Cameron Williams‘ desperation three fell short as Penn State Mont Alto fell one win shy of the PSUAC Championship for the second straight season as they lost to Penn State Wilkes-Barre 51-48 on Tuesday evening. Cameron Williams led all scorers with 19 points for Penn State Mont Alto and Jalen Willis contributed 15 for Penn State Wilkes-Barre in the winning effort.
Mont Alto started strong in the first quarter, building an early 13-7 lead on a Williams three pointer with 13:47 left in the first half. Willis would finally tie the contest for Wilkes-Barre at 17-17 with eight minutes remaining in the half on his made layup. The two teams traded leads throughout the better part of the first half and Wilkes-Barre built a four point lead when Teequan Holley made a jumper to put the visitors on top 28-24 with just under two minutes left in the opening half. Caleb Eckert would trim the lead to two points on the following possession as Mont Alto trailed 28-26 at the half.
Both teams would compete in a heavily contested second half as defensive adjustments took over and both teams combined for just 45 points. Mont Alto built a seven point advantage with twelve minutes remaining as they led 36-29 after a Cameron Williams bucket. Jalen Willis tied the contest at 37-37 with his made layup following a defensive rebound. With Mont Alto trailing 45-43, Dariel Rivera went to the free throw line for two shots. He successfully made the first one with one shot to follow, Rivera missed the second shot and gathered the offensive rebound under the basket. His layup attempt off the miss went wide. Teequan Holley pushed the Wilkes-Barre lead to three on the following possession as Wilkes-Barre led 47-44.
Tanner Tyson pushed the Wilkes-Barre lead to five with a 49-44 lead with just over a minute left in regulation. Following two missed free throws, Mont Alto trailed 49-46 with the ball and 23 seconds remaining. Bryson Fleming made a desperation heave on a two pointer to trim the deficit to one point with Mont Alto trailing 49-48 with five seconds left. Fleming fouled Ballard on the inbounds and Ballard made both free throws as Wilkes-Barre upset Mont Alto in the semifinals by a final of 51-48.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre Leaders
Jalen Willis: 15 points, 4 assists
Anthony Picott: 9 points, 3 rebounds
Penn State Mont Alto Leaders
Cameron Williams: 19 points, 6 rebounds
Caleb Eckert: 11 points
Up Next: Penn State Mont Alto will learn their USCAA tournament fate following the bid show on Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m.