Senior, Aidan Angus, walks out with f
Senior, Aidan Angus, walks out with f
Jacob Will

Boys Basketball defeats CD East on Senior Night

On Friday, Feb. 2, the State College Little Lions faced Central Dauphin East in a Mid-Penn thriller. It was senior night for the Little Lions and the electric crowd propelled the team to a 59-51 win. 

Senior Evan Mellace appreciated the rowdy students’ section, something the North Gym had not experienced this season. “The student section was awesome, I did not expect that at all,” Mellace said.

It was a very emotional night as the senior class played one of their last games in a State High jersey. Senior Aidan Angus has been a part of the State High basketball program for all four years of high school. 

It was pretty emotional the first half. My mom was bawling of course when I came out, but I knew we had to come out and get a big win on senior night and that’s what we did,” Angus said. 

State College sent out the five seniors as the starting lineup: Evan Mellace, Nate Price, Aidan Angus, Luke Torbic, and Xion Nichols. 

After CD East won the tip-off, the Panthers pressed down the court and the first shot of the game was immediately blocked by Luke Torbic. The Panthers did manage to jump ahead early and take a quick 7-2 lead. The Little Lions came back with a three-pointer from senior Nate Price to cut the lead to two. 

After tying the game at 7-7, the Panthers’ Julian Lownes made a three-pointer and they led 10-7. Angus immediately responded with a floater to cut the lead again, now trailing by one. Torbic was dominant on defense and had another clutch steal to allow the Little Lions to take the lead.  

The Little Lions were ahead after the first quarter 15-11. Angus ended the quarter with 8, and Price trailed with 5. For CD East, Alijah Cooper led with 5, Julian Lownes and Eli Vega each had 3. 

The second quarter was a different story for the Little Lions as junior Ty Salazer, found his offense. He started the scoring with a layup after two turnovers by each team. CD East scored four unanswered as the Little Lions’ lead began to slip. After the Panthers tied the game, Salazer found an opening in a congested paint and was able to turn a layup into a three-point play as he was fouled as well. Salazer found a home on the foul line as he went five for five on free throws. 

Junior, Ty Salazer prepares to shoot a free throw. (Ellory Potter)

Salazer led the Little Lions in the second quarter with 9 points and Torbic had 4. At the half, the Little Lions had a 28-20 lead, fueled by an eight-point first quarter by Angus and a nine-point second quarter by Salazer. 

At the start of the second half, the scoring once again began with a CD East layup. Then, a turnover by State College allowed a three-pointer for CD East. As soon as things looked good for the Panthers, Torbic made a layup to start the scoring for the Little Lions in the second half.

Throughout the third quarter, the pace of the game was at a high. Many turnovers had occurred giving more opportunities for the Panthers to take the lead. But, once the Panthers thought they had momentum,  Torbic hit back-to-back corner three-pointers and the student section went crazy.

Torbic commented on the student section after the game saying, “Well, I didn’t think we would get as big as a crowd as we did. So once I saw everyone showed up, I was super excited but definitely had nerves.”

Price and Xion Nichols added 7 combined points, but CD East continued to fight back and outscored State High 18-15 in the third quarter. It was not enough to come back though, as State was still leading 43-38 after three. 

As the fourth quarter started, the Little Lions wasted no time as junior Reed Melvin knocked down a three-pointer on the very first possession. The Panthers struggled to respond as they could not find the big plays when they needed them. 

Reed Melvin stepped up for the Little Lions with a huge contested floater in the paint.

Junior, Reed Melvin, shoots a three-pointer in front of the student section. (Ellory Potter)

As soon as the Panthers gained momentum, it was killed by another corner three-pointer from Reed Melvin right in front of the student section. 

CD East continued to make shots, But State High responded to each one immediately. State High outscored CD East 16-13 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

The Little Lions successfully rebounded from their loss in their previous game to Chambersburg. Salazer led State High in scoring with 13, and Price and Torbic added 12 apiece. It was a big win on a big night for the team and its seniors. Mellace was happy to get the win but wasn’t overtaken by the moment.

“It was a solid performance against a solid team in the conference,” Mallace said, “Obviously a little close but a win is a win in a conference like the Mid Penn.”

The Little Lions finished the regular season with a 9-12 record and will begin their playoff journey on Feb. 24, when they take on Mifflin County in the District VI Championship game.

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