Harvest Baptist defeats Cheswick Christian, claims SCCA crown
Harvest Baptist Academy of Fawn Township is this year's Southwest Christian Athletic Conference champion.
The Huskies got off to a quick start and rolled to a 57-41 victory over Cheswick Christian Academy before a large crowd at the Penn State New Kensington Athletic Center.
Harvest Baptist jumped off to an 11-1 start and led wire-to-wire.
Senior Caleb Skelly led the Huskies with 17 points and was named game MVP. Teammate Noah Kile added 13.
Harvest Baptist, which has sponsored basketball for fewer than 10 years, finished conference play 16-1, with the only loss coming to Cheswick Christian. The Huskies have a final exhibition game Tuesday against Christian Life Academy of Seneca to conclude its season.
Cheswick Christian finished the season 20-7.
“We saw Cheswick twice earlier this season, and we knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Harvest Baptist coach Tim Delaney said. “We decided to come out as soon as the gates opened. We just charged out, and we played very well.”
“We came out tight and just didn't shoot the ball — I don't know why,” Chargers coach Todd Rosio said. “I don't know if it was nerves, their defense, or I don't what. We just couldn't get the ball in the hoop for a long time”
Cheswick Christian didn't register a field goal until junior Jujuan Malloy found the range with 39.1 seconds left in the first quarter.
A steal by Jeremiah Gillespie and a putback by Kile gave Harvest Baptist a 16-5 advantage with 6:24 to go in the half.
Cheswick Christian quickly got back into the game, cutting its deficit to 18-15 late in the half, but the Chargers couldn't get any closer.
“We rallied back a couple of times to cut into that lead, but we couldn't completely bridge the gap,” Rosio said.
Harvest Baptist built its lead to 43-24 by the end of the third period. Skelly passed to Kile for a basket to beat the third-quarter buzzer.
“This was just a team effort, all my guys — we trusted them, and they all played great,” said Skelly, a Natrona Heights resident. “Coach said before the game to just go out a play ball the way we know how.”
Skelly and fellow seniors Gillespie and Daniel Ralston will be going to divinity school in the fall with the goal of becoming pastors.
The Huskies expanded their lead to 53-33 on a pair of free throws by Gillespie with 3:11 to go.
“We never got going on offense and on defense, they crushed us on rebounds,” Rosio said.
Kile and Mitchell Jacobs collected seven rebounds apiece for Harvest Baptist.
Tyler Knupp, Antione Malloy and Andy Skledar all had eight to lead Cheswick Christian, with Skledar pulling down seven rebounds.
George Guido is a freelance writer.