By Joseph Maniello
The last thing the York men’s basketball team had in mind was digging itself an early hole Monday night against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
But unfortunately for the Cardinals, that’s exactly what happened.
Prior to Monday’s non-league contest, the Mariners had been 8-1 when leading at halftime and that trend continued as the home team built on its 12 point advantage at intermission, ultimately winning, 69-48 at Liebertz Gymnasium in Kings Point.
“You don’t have to look for no undercover meaning. This was simple,” said York junior forward Michael Thompson, who scored 11 points in 28 minutes. “They bullied us. They out-hustled us, they hit all their open shots … they wanted it more.”
Thompson admitted to scouting the Mariners a night earlier, being well aware of their record when leading at the half.
“All season we’ve had a tendency to come out weak in the first half and try to step it up in the second half,” he said. “I tried to tell them that this wasn’t a game we’d be able to do that and it showed.”
The Mariners were led by Gabe Whitney and Joe Hart who scored 11 points apiece, with the latter hitting four-of-five three-pointers. As a team, Kings Point connected all night, shooting 53 percent from the floor, including 43 percent from beyond the arc.
Conversely, the Cardinals struggled, shooting just 34 percent, while missing eight of 10 three-pointers. York (7-12) had no problem getting to the charity stripe, but knocking down their free throws was the hard part, missing 10-of-24.
The final score meant the ending of a five-game losing streak for the Mariners (10-9) while the Cardinals’ modest two-game winning streak was put to a halt.
The two teams had not faced one another since the 1998-99 campaign and Kings Point builds its all time lead to 5-1 against York.
In a low-scoring half, with both teams only combining for 24 points at the 10 minute mark, the Mariners exploded for a 20-6 run that turned a 15-13 deficit into a comfortable 33-21 lead at the break.
“Defensively is where we’re going to make our runs,” said Kings Point coach Chris Crideo, referring to his team’s sudden burst in the final nine minutes of the half. “When we came out of the second half, I said ‘I want to keep this team under 50,’” I know we’ll score our points.”
York’s defensive aggressiveness kept them in the game early on, utilizing a full-court press to suffocating its opponent.
But the visitors could not capitalize on easy opportunities, something York coach Ron St. John credited as the key to the game.
“I thought what made the difference of the game was they scored their easy ones,” he said. “We missed like three of ours back-to-back. It’s been happening to us.”
After Thompson stole a pass at half-court, he blew a wide-open, fast-break lay-up attempt.
“I wanted to dunk it but I kind of slipped,” explained Thompson.
The Cardinals can only hope they regain their footing quickly, as after playing the College of Staten Island in a game scheduled for Wednesday night, they take on Brooklyn College Saturday.
Reach contributing writer Joseph Maniello by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.