McKeesport, Pa. – The 2017/2018 Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball season will be one remembered for many years to come. Three players reached the 1,000-point mark in their careers, eight team records were broken, and the team made back-to-back USCAA National Tournament appearances after never having made one in team history.
The historical season started right from the beginning as PSUGA won their first four games of the season for the first time in program history. During that stretch, they beat Butler County Community College, Penn Highlands, CCAC-Boyce, and Point Park. Their win over Point Park also marked the first time they have ever beaten a division II program. They would then drop six of their next 14 games and sat at 12-6 entering the final month of the season before they really turned it on.
They would capture the number one seed in the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs winning their last seven games of the season to finish with a record of 19-6. Their run in the PSUAC Playoffs would be short lived as after a first round bye, they fell in the semifinal round to Penn State Wilkes Barre 67-59. PSUGA would then be offered a second chance getting a bid as the #6 seed to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Tournament. They fought hard in their semifinal game sending it to three overtimes, however, they would fall 106-101 to Villa Maria bringing their season to an end.
Despite not accomplishing their goal of winning a championship, the PSUGA Men’s Basketball team still has plenty to be proud of. Numerous team records were broken this season as the senior class left their mark on the program and will be remembered as one of the most successful senior classes in program history.
Khari Hicks (East Hills, Pa./Imani Christian Academy) broke the single game assist record, the single season assist record, and the all-time assist record in the same season. Hicks also became the winningest player in program history as well as playing in the most games in program history.
Curtis Newby (Sharon, Pa./Sharon HS) made his mark by breaking the all-time rebounding record at PSUGA finishing his career with 832 rebounds in his three years in the program. Newby also currently shares a tie for the most rebounds in a single game collecting 22 two seasons ago against Penn State New Kensington. Jeremy McMunn (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) rounds out the group sitting second all-time in single season free throw percentage when he shot 86.4% a season ago.
Not only did the seniors put their names in the history books, but Junior Jordan Payne (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) became the all-time leading scorer in PSUGA history ending the year with 1,293 career points. He broke the old record of 1,290 held by Pettrie Addison and he still has another full season to build upon it and firmly cement himself in PSUGA glory.
Despite losing three seniors and one 2 + 2 player this season, PSUGA still has many of its pieces in place that helped make it so successful the last two seasons. Returning from the starting lineup are leading scorer Payne as well as Kenny Rouse (Duquesne, Pa./West Mifflin), Makis Rivera (Pittsburgh, Pa./Imani Christian Academy), and George Prota (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) they will be helped out by a cast of players on the bench including key contributors from this year’s team such as Koran Flemming (Pittsburgh, Pa./Westinghouse HS), Juwan Ledbetter (Pittsburgh, Pa./Taylor Allderdice), and Mhonte Newsome (Baltimore, Md./Our Lady of Mt. St. Carmel)
Head Coach Tyler Care has set his team up for success now and in the future. With the talent they possess, we could be looking at a PSUGA Men’s Basketball team that competes for the PSUAC Championship on a consistent basis for many years to come.