Penn State DuBois basketball teams close out season; players, coach honored

Penn State DuBois junior guard Shannon Shaw shoots a three pointer during a basketball game this season at the PAW Center. Shaw was selected as an honorable mention team member for the PSUAC this season.

Penn State DuBois junior guard Shannon Shaw shoots a three pointer during a basketball game this season at the PAW Center. Shaw was selected as an honorable mention team member for the PSUAC this season.

Credit: Penn State

DuBOIS, Pa. — For sports teams, there is a saying that only one team gets to finish a season with a win, the team that wins the championship. After a season of ups and downs, highs and lows, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Penn State DuBois can be proud. While they didn’t finish the season with a win, both teams had seasons to be remembered.

Last week, both the Nittany Lions and Lady Lions entered the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) championship playoffs. Both teams entered as the fourth seed from the west division and faced a tough road to secure the championship.

The seedings on the women’s side saw the Lady Lions draw Penn State Beaver, a nationally ranked team who didn’t lose a game within the PSUAC all season. In the previous two matchups between the teams this season, DuBois played hard and held close to Beaver before falling in both contests. In the postseason game, DuBois again stayed with Beaver through the first quarter, trailing by a close 17-10 score. Rebecca Martin led the way for the Lady Lions to start the game, with six points in the first quarter coming on two three-pointers. Tara Leamer also helped with five rebounds in the quarter. Even after a second quarter that saw Beaver extend their lead to 39-25, it didn’t feel like the Lady Lions were out of the contest and a strong third quarter could see the game even out. Frances Milliron and Martin each netted five points in the second quarter to keep DuBois close.

Unfortunately, the run in the third quarter never materialized, with Beaver outscoring DuBois by 12 points in the third quarter and nine in the fourth to secure an 80-45 win in the PSUAC quarterfinals. Martin led the way for the Lady Lions with 19 points and six rebounds. Natalie Bowser finished the game with eight points and 12 rebounds and Leamer secured double digit rebounds as well with 13.

The loss saw the Lady Lions’ season come to a close, finishing with an 11-12 record, including 9-10 in the PSUAC. Despite the loss, there are many positive points to reflect upon that show a great future for the women’s basketball team at Penn State DuBois.

The men’s team opened their playoff run by making the trip to visit Penn State Mont Alto, the number one seed in the west division of the PSUAC. In the game, the Nittany Lions demonstrated a dominant performance on the road, securing a convincing 98-87 victory over Mont Alto.

DuBois showcased a well-balanced offensive attack, shooting 51.6% from the field. Kaleb Pryor led the charge with an impressive 20 points, while Jordin Sommers (17 points), Beau Verdill (15 points), and Kyron Harbin (20 points) also made significant contributions. The Nittany Lions exhibited sharpshooting from beyond the arc, hitting 58.8% of their three-point attempts.

The first half ended in a 34-34 tie, setting the stage for a competitive second half. However, DuBois found their rhythm, erupting for 64 points in the latter period to secure the 98-87 victory. Their offensive prowess, combined with a solid defensive effort, allowed them to pull away and claim the win.

Mont Alto fought hard but couldn't contain DuBois' offensive firepower. The home team relied on a balanced scoring effort, with Caleb Eckert leading the way with 14 points. Despite their efforts, DuBois’ efficient scoring and ability to capitalize on turnovers made the difference.

With the win in the quarterfinals, the Nittany Lions advanced to face Penn State York in the semifinals. The contest started out as a back-and-forth game between the two teams, with DuBois ending the first half with a narrow two-point lead, 39-37. A balanced team scoring effort for the Nittany Lions aided in securing the lead, with Harbin leading the team in scoring at the half with 11 points coming off the bench. Jaiquil Johnson also contributed nine points in the first half and Verdill pulled in four rebounds.

The second half saw the Nittany Lions have another strong shooting effort, making nearly 42% of their shots from the field. However, where they didn’t get to shoot much from is the free throw line, only attempting two free throws in the second half. The free throw lines at both ends of the court would hurt DuBois in the half, with York making 14 of 19 free throws, helping them grab the lead and hold on to it, getting the win by a final of 77-69. Harbin led DuBois with a double-double, 22 points and ten rebounds. Verdill, Pryor and Ashton Fortson also scored in double figures for the Nittany Lions, with 14 points, ten points and 12 points respectively.

DuBois finished the season at 15-15 overall, 9-10 in the PSUAC, in coach Dan Smay’s first season at the helm for the program. With young talent already on the roster, and with more incoming in the future, hopes are high at DuBois that the Nittany Lions will once again be playing for a PSUAC championship very soon.

At the end of the regular season, the PSUAC announced their postseason awards that included honors for several members of the basketball teams at Penn State DuBois. Freshman Natalie Bowser was named to the west division first team after averaging 15.5 points per game and 12.4 rebounds per game this season. Junior Shannon Shaw was named as an honorable mention for the conference after averaging 12.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game on the year. Her season was cut short due to injury, which forced her to miss the final three games of the year. Shaw was also chosen as the recipient of the John Fritz Sportsmanship Award for the women’s basketball team as well.

On the men’s side, senior Jaiquil Johnson headlines the awards selections, being part of the west division first team.  He averaged 19.6 points per game and secured a total of 95 rebounds this season. Johnson also had 53 assists and 35 steals this year. Another player award, freshman Alex Preston was selected as the John Fritz Sportsmanship Award recipient for the men’s basketball team this year.

Players weren’t the only people winning awards this year for the men’s basketball team; Head Coach Dan Smay was selected as the PSUAC coach of the year as well. Smay took charge of a team that went 10-17 last season and immediately made an impact, helping the team to a 15-15 record this season. The team also returned to the PSUAC playoffs for the first time since 2016.

With the close of the basketball seasons, that also brings to a close the winter sports season at Penn State DuBois. Next week, we will begin highlighting the spring sports season, with information and recaps about the baseball and softball teams.

For complete athletic schedules, including any weather-related changes, visit the Penn State DuBois athletic website.