By Matt Kellam
Shippensburg—The Shippensburg Greyhounds exorcised some playoff demons of past years Monday night and in the process secured a spot in the PIAA state basketball playoffs with a convincing 63-50 win over the Cedar Cliff Colts.
Shippensburg head coach Ray Staver said, “I told the team three years ago we lost on a last second play and last year we lost on a buzzer beater here, so these games are never easy but this is a big win.”
Cedar Cliff scored the first two points of the game off the opening tip and it took the Greyhounds nearly two minutes in the opening quarter to answer on a Collin Taylor basket.
Jeremy Thomas scored on an assist from Jayden Statum to put the Greyhounds up for the first time at 6-4, a lead they would not give up the rest of the game. But, it was not easy.
With the score 15-14, the Greyhounds went on a 10-0 run, led by five points from Isaiah Houser, to push the lead to 11 but, after a time out, the Colts scored the final five points of the half to make it 25-19 at the break.
Tyler Houser netted a three-point play to start the second half to make it 25-22, but Taylor followed up his own miss and Statum hit two free throws to push the lead back to seven.
The Colts came back again behind two-three pointers from Charlie Warner to cut the lead to two, 36-34. After a Greyhound time out, Shippensburg worked the ball in and Taylor hit a put back with two seconds to make it 38-34 at the end of three.
A Thomas three kicked the lead back to seven to start the fourth quarter and started a 14-2 run to push the lead to 14 and effectively put the game out of reach.
Jayden Statum, who led all scorers with 17, said after the game, “There’s a lot of stress taken off of our shoulders for getting that state bid. We want to get as far as we can in the district. We know we’re capable of playing the top seeds.”
Coach Staver added, “I thought our post guys played tremendously, including the guys off the bench. We held their big men to five points. Their last game they scored 45 combined.”
Shippensburg, now 18-6, will travel to Dillsburg Thursday night for the rubber game of the season against Northern York, 55-46 winners over Lower Dauphin.
Cedar Cliff, 13-10, will drop to the consolation bracket and play Lower Dauphin at home Thursday night.
Shippensburg 63 Cedar Cliff 50
Aiden Fry 2 0-0 5, Charlie Warner 4 1-1 11, Matt Musselman 5 0-0 11, Nick Strain 0 4-4 4, Tyler Houser 2 1-1 5, Trenton Smith 1 6-7 8, Hunter Cuza 2 0-0 6. Totals: 16 12-13 50
Jayden Statum 5 7-11 17, Isaiah Houser 2 4-4 9, Collin Taylor 6 3-4 15, Jeremy Thomas 5-1-2 12, Anthony Smith 2 3-4 7, Jacob Cramer 1 0-0 3. Totals: 21 18-25 6.
Cedar Cliff 10 9 15 16 50
Shippensburg 13 12 13 25 63
Three point shots—Cedar Cliff 6 (Warner 2, Kuza 2, Fry, Musselman) Shippensburg 3 (Thomas, Houser, Cramer)