Dom Del Prete of Misericordia takes a shot between Jerome Gosney (11) and Matt Medici (41) of Marywood during the Laurel Line Tournament championship game on Saturday in Dallas Township.Don Carey/the times leader
DALLAS TWP. – Prince played like a king Saturday night in the Laurel Line Tournament at Misericordia University.
And for helping dethrone the defending champions, he was crowned the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Marywood guard Prince Blacknall scored a game-high 28 points, including a pair of crucial free throws with nine seconds remaining to lift the Pacers to a 61-58 win against the Cougars in the 17th annual tournament.
“It feels great,” said Blacknall, who scored 16 points in the first half. “It’s really special to win this tournament, especially in my senior year. Winning the MVP trophy makes it even more special.”
Despite his heroics, Blacknall nearly opened the door for a Misericordia win.
With the Pacers clinging to a 59-58 lead, the 5-foot-8 guard shot an airball from the right corner with 28 seconds remaining. Misericordia couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, however, with a layup by sophomore Robbie Johnson rolling off the rim.
The missed shot forced the Cougars to foul Blacknall with nine seconds remaining. With the Misericordia student body chanting “airball, airball,” he calmly sank both free throws to increase the lead to 61-58. The Cougars had one final shot to force overtime, but Johnson’s three-point attempt from the top of the key bounced off the rim as time expired.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Blacknall, referring to his free throws. “I just tried to clear my mind (on the free throw line) and make the shots. I took three breaths, two dribbles and shot the ball.”
Led by forward Vinny Baumunk, the Cougars led by as many as eight points in the first half. The 6-6 senior scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the first half and gave Misericordia a 21-13 lead with 5:23 remaining.
It was all Marywood the rest of the half.
Sparked by the outside shooting of Blacknall, who made four three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes, the Pacers went on a 10-0 run and took their first lead, 26-24, on a pair of Blacknall free throws with 2:26 left in the half.
Marywood led 32-26 at halftime and took its biggest lead of the game, 40-31, on a three-pointer by Blacknall with 16:22 remaining in the contest. Midway through the second half, however, Misericordia began to chip away at the deficit.
Hazleton Area product Ethan Eichhorst (11 points) nailed a three-pointer and Baumunk followed with another as the Cougars tied the contest at 47-47 with 8:41 remaining. But Marywood refused to fold.
The Pacers went on another 10-0 run, this time with sophomore forward Matt Medici scoring five consecutive points to give Marywood a 57-47 advantage with 4:05 left. Misericordia used a little run of its own late in the contest, with Baumunk hitting back-to-back short-range jumpers to pull the Cougars to within one point, 59-58.
Blacknall was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Sidney Tharpe, who scored 15 points in the title game. Other players selected to the all-tournament team were Baumunk, Misericordia’s Dom Del Prete (10 points), J.J. Reinmiller of Penn State/Hazleton and Khristian Collins of Baptist Bible.
Misericordia head coach Trevor Woodruff had nothing but praise for the Pacers.
“Give credit to Marywood,” he said. “They played better. They coached better. When you do that, you win games.”
MARYWOOD (61): Anderson 0-3 0-0 0, Blacknall 8-14 7-7 28, Owens 0-3 0-1 0, Gosney 1-2 0-1 2, Tharpe 6-13 0-2 15, Medici 2-6 1-2 5, Foreman 1-4 1-2 3, Charlot 0-0 0-0 0, Pena 3-6 0-0 8. Totals 21-51 9-15 61.
MISERCORDIA (58): Little 1-2 0-0 2, Johnson 1-8 2-6 4, Baumunk 8-18 2-2 19, Eichhorst 5-6 0-0 11, Del Prete 4-8 2-2 10, Hunter 1-4 1-2 3, Smith 2-3 2-2 7, Sensening 1-2 0-0 2, Slanovec 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 9-14 58.
3-Point Field Goals— Marywood, Blacknall 5, Tharpe 3, Pena 2. Misericordia, Baumunk, Eichhorst, Smith.