Men’s basketball advances to finals after rubber-match win

MATTHEW BASARA
Staff Writer

Aquinas Photo / EMMA  black JUNIOR GUARD Brian Farrell drives to the hoop in Wednesday’s 67-53 win over Susquehanna University. Farrell has been a major sparkplug coming off the bench for the Royals ever since he scored 19 points on 8-14 shooting from the field at Ithaca Jan. 13.

Aquinas Photo / EMMA black
JUNIOR GUARD Brian Farrell drives to the hoop in Wednesday’s 67-53 win over Susquehanna University. Farrell has been a major sparkplug coming off the bench for the Royals ever since he scored 19 points on 8-14 shooting from the field at Ithaca Jan. 13.

After defeating Catholic University in the regular season finale Saturday, the Royals entered Wednesday night’s match-up as the number two seed facing the number three seed Susquehanna University in the Landmark Conference playoffs. The Royals faced the Crusaders in the teams’ third matchup of the year, with the teams splitting the season series 1-1. Scranton kept its championship hopes alive, winning 67-53.

The Royals’ victory Wednesday night means the team will face Catholic in the Landmark Conference championship Saturday afternoon at Catholic in Washington, D.C. Led by seniors Ross Danzig and Justin Klingman and junior Brendan Boken, the Royals will look to defend last year’s conference title and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“We needed to come out with high energy like we did against Catholic … nothing is guaranteed at this point,” Boken said.

The Royals did just that. The team outworked Susquehanna on both ends of the court, earning its way back to the Landmark Conference championship. Ross Danzig led all scorers with 26 points, taking over the game at times. On the other side of the ball, junior Marcus Thomas continued to exhibit stellar defense, holding Susquehanna’s leading scorer Brandon Hedley to just 7 points, shooting 3-14 from the field. The lock-down defense is no surprise; just four days earlier Thomas held Catholic’s Bryson Fonville to 9 points on 2-13 from the field.

The Conference Championship will feature this match-up once again, and Thomas’s confidence is at an all-time high right now.

“It all comes down to preparation. Coach (Danzig) wanted to make a switch and put me on the two point guards and it’s worked well for us. Being much taller and longer than both Hedley and Fonville makes it easier to force more difficult shots even though they are so quick,” Thomas said.

The team understands what it means to win in the post-season, playing under Coach Danzig, who has led his teams to five conference championships in the last seven years. Ross Danzig, Klingman and senior Michael Fee were also part of the 2011-12 team that made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Their experience could be the key to continued success on this run for the Royals.

Saturday’s Landmark Conference championship will be a hard-fought battle. With the chances of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament looking slim, a conference championship win will guarantee an automatic bid. Ross Danzig and company will look to repeat as conference champions.

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