This past weekend, the men’s basketball team held its final home game of the season at Tippin Gym against Pitt-Johnstown in what was also senior day.
The Golden Eagles sent six players out to center court before the game to be honored by their families and peers; the veterans included Andre Anthony, Rob Agurs, Tim Gill, De’Ondre Terrell, Ralph Naples and Larry Johnson Jr.
Naples was the only fouryear player for the soon-tobe graduates at Clarion.
After the emotions and celebrations ended on the court, the crucial PSAC West matchup ensued and it lived up to expectations.
The game began with the Golden Eagles catching fire from the field, taking a double-digit lead in the first five minutes, and Clarion, at one point, shooting over 70 percent from the field.
The offense tempered downward and cooled down, and Clarion saw UPJ draw even by the midway mark of the first half.
For the rest of the half, both teams were neck and neck and there wasn’t more than a four-point lead approaching the half.
Leading the way for the Mountain Cats was forward AJ Leahey, who couldn’t seem to miss after the start as he went into the locker room seven of 10 from the field, including 4-4 from downtown for a total of 18 points.
Senior Andre Anthony had 12 points at the break, and Rob Agurs picked up seven points and seven rebounds carrying the Golden Eagles.
The score at halftime was tied at 38-38.
The second half was much of the same from an intensity stand point as neither team could seem to gain any separation.
With around four minutes to go, the game went into a frenzy with both teams tied at 60.
After buckets from UPJ, the score became 64-60, but that lead was short-lived as Agurs responded with a mid-range make.
In the next possession, Agurs drew a foul and knotted the contest at 64-64.
After another free throw by Agurs, the game was tied at 65 and Clarion had possession.
Agurs again took the ball inside and drove into the paint, but this time the attempt was off the mark.
With around 15 seconds left, UPJ gained hold of the ball.
Then with 2.5 seconds in the game, Mountain Cat sniper Nate Snodgrass hit a mid- range jumper from the right elbow, which propelled UPJ to the road win and locking up a home playoff contest.
Final stats from the game included a game high 25 points from AJ Leahey, and then nine from Mosley and seven from Snodgrass.
For Clarion, it was the senior duo of Anthony and Agurs who led the way, Anthony with 21 points and Agurs with 14 points and added 12 boards for the double-double.
Another Golden Eagle that contributed was junior guard BJ Andrews with 10 points.
The loss now puts Clarion on the outside looking in heading into the PSAC playoffs, although there is still a chance to sneak in.
“We are still alive, that was a tough loss to take at home, but we need to stay positive and hope for the best come Wednesday” said head coach Marcess Williams.
The Golden Eagles, as of Wednesday, need a loss from either Slippery Rock or Seton Hill to make the postseason.
If Clarion makes the postseason, will be this Saturday at either Pitt-Johnstown or Edinboro.