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PSNK gets another shot

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Friday, March 2, 2001

CCAC playoffs - western final
  • Who: Penn State New Kensington (19-8) vs. Penn State Beaver (12-12).
  • When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
  • Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Penn State University.
  • Notes: Winner advances to the CCAC championship game 1 p.m. Sunday against the Eastern champion, the winner of Penn State Hazelton vs. Penn State Monto Alto. Penn State New Kensington enters the game as the No. 1 seed out of the Western Division, Penn State Beaver is the two-seed. ... PSNK won the season series between the two teams, 2-1. PSNK won by scores of 86-65 and 102-81 at home; Beaver won 92-77, at its home court. ... The Beaver Blue Devils are led by 6-foot-2 sophomore guard John Lapic, who averages 17.5 ppg. ... PSNK freshman guard Jason Benson, who is recovering from a groin pull, leads the Lions at 21.5 ppg. ... PSNK made the Western final last season as well, but lost, 55-53, to Penn State Abington.
  • UPPER BURRELL: The Penn State New Kensington men's basketball team made the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Association championship last year but lost by a single basket to Penn State Abington.

    With a little encouragement from an always-quotable Bum Phillips, the Lions (19-8) are a game away from being in the same situation this season.

    Of course, a different result would be nice this time around.

    'That game is always, always on our minds,' said guard Lamar Downer, a freshman on the team last season. 'That took a lot out of us. It made us hungrier.'

    Playing in the championship game at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center would make any small-college basketball player hungry.

    Penn State New Kensington has its sights set on Sunday's CCAC title game against the best Penn State school from the Eastern Division.

    But the local Lions first must go through the Western Division finals and Penn State Beaver (12-12) Saturday afternoon to get to the finale.

    New Kensington and Beaver will tip off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at University Park.

    New Kensington, hit hard with injuries and the recent dismissal of second-leading scorer Anthony 'Toby' Binns, has recovered at the perfect time.

    Binns has been reinstated after head coach Heath Bailey dismissed him for disciplinary reasons last weekend. Binns reportedly missed several practices and was late for various team gatherings.

    Bailey said people close to the team influenced him to bring Binns, who averages 14 points per game, back for the finals.

    'Toby knows I care about him, but there was a reason for him being dismissed,' Bailey said.

    'He will help us, no doubt, as will (Jason) Benson. They will give us some momentum.'

    Having Binns back is a positive, but getting leading scorer Benson back from a groin pull is a major boost.

    Benson (21.1 ppg, 8.6 rebounds) is about 80 percent recovered from a severe groin pull.

    'The team did real well without me,' said Benson, whose team was 2-1 without him. 'But I couldn't wait to get back.

    'I heard about last year's loss (in the CCAC final). This is exciting. It's a real experience for us.'

    New Kensington should match up well with Penn State Beaver, which relies heavily on 6-2 sophomore guard John Lapic and 6-7 center James Sutton.

    New Kensington's size should be a factor, especially with 6-8 forward Mario Boyd, Binns and 6-5 forward Kahil Fennell.

    'We're going there to win this time,' Bailey said. 'And these guys deserve it.'

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