By BILL ALBRIGHT
For The Sun-Gazette
LOCK HAVEN - For the previous 20 years, the last game of the regular season meant the end to the season for the Lock Haven men's basketball team.
However as a result of the program's resurrection, the Bald Eagles hope their season is far from over. With the Bald Eagles beating Cheyney Wednesday night, 79-70 at Thomas Fieldhouse and finishing as the fourth seed in the PSAC East, they will host a first round game in the PSAC?tournament.
That game will be right back in Thomas Field House Saturday at 5 vs. Millersville, the No. 5 seed in the East.
"This is exciting for us to be going to the playoffs," said LHU head coach Mike Nestor. "It is the first time for me in a while to be coaching a practice where it is not over yet. Usually you are coaching the last two practices hoping to make things right, but tonight we were fortunate to get out of here with a win. The important things were that nobody got hurt and we got some guys some good minutes so we should be fresh and ready to go for tomorrow's practice and Saturday's game."
Heading into the post-season, the win over the Wolves was much more than another win.
"I just told the guys how important I thought this game was for us," said Nestor. "Cheyney has two complete studs and they have been playing very well. We just wanted to battle through tonight, get a win and have complete focus on Saturday. It has been a little tough to keep our guys from looking ahead, but I think we are ready to go.?
Prior to the game, four seniors who have contributed a lot over the past four years were honored for their efforts to the LHU program on Senior Night 2014.
In that group were Kasheef Festus, Nate Walters, Sander Vanoutryve and Greg Forstater.
"For Sander and Nate, they have been here since my first day so they have been through the 0-26 and they know just how that felt," said Nestor. "After feeling some goodness after last year and with Greg coming along and working hard and Kasheef has just been a pillar for us. Obviously Wali (Hepburn) is as good as anybody in the league, but Kasheef is so important to us because he does so many good things for us. We keep looking to recruit a kid like that, but you know what, they don't really exist."
Locked in a close duel with the Wolves, the Bald Eagles pulled away to a 27-19 lead with six minutes left in the first half before extending their advantage to 10 at the break.
Continuing to play solid basketball on both end of the floor, the Bald Eagles further extended their lead to as many as 17 with nine minutes left in the game.
In his final regular season game for the Eagles, Walters scored 14 points in the first half before finishing with 16.
"It is a good feeling and a big difference from a few years ago," said Walters. "We are looking forward to the playoffs and hopefully we can make a run. We got a lot of guys some minutes tonight, ran up and down the floor, got some good looks for some of the guys so I think everybody is feeling good about the playoffs."
Leading the Bald Eagles to the win was Festus with a double-double at 18 points and a 12 rebounds.
"Right now this means the world to us," said Festus. "I have been through the wars and last year we showed signs of turning things around. To make the playoffs, but not just to make it but go in as the fourth seed it feels good. I am happy to be here but we all know the works isn't finished. We just have to go into Saturday's game (with Millersville), play hard and get the win."
CHEYNEY (3-23, 3-13 PSACE)
CURTIS, Deshawn 11-17 8-9 32; BROWN, Calvin 5-12 2-2 13; JOHNSON, Jerrod 2-9 5-6 10; DRINKS, Michael 3-9 0-0 8; MEADOWS, Khalil 2-5 1-1 5; BURNEY, Christopher 1-2 0-0 2; COSBY, Darrell 0-1 0-0 0; NEWTON, Dequan 0-0 0-0 0; GREENE, Mecheal 0-0 0-0 0; LETT, Eugene 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 16-18 70.
LOCK HAVEN (17-9, 10-6 PSACE)
HEPBURN, Wali 8-13 2-5 18; FESTUS, Kasheef 5-14 8-8 18; WALTERS, Nate 7-8 0-0 16; BOND, Julian 3-6 4-6 13; GARCIA, Dave 1-4 2-2 5; VANOUTRYVE, Sander 1-2 0-0 3; WALKER, Bootsie 1-3 0-0 2; JACKSON, Brahieme 1-3 0-0 2; REICHARD, Dalton 0-1 2-2 2; FORSTATER, Greg 0-3 0-2 0; BLOUNT, Al 0-3 0-0 0; COOPER, Elijah 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 27-63 18-25 79.
Halftime:?LHU, 39-29. 3-point goals--Cheyney 6-26 (DRINKS, 2-8; CURTIS, 2-7; JOHNSON, 1-5; BROWN, 1-4; LETT, 0-1; MEADOWS, 0-1), Lock Haven 7-20 (BOND, 3-5; WALTERS, 2-2; GARCIA, 1-3; VANOUTRYVE, 1-2; REICHARD, 0-1; BLOUNT, 0-3; COOPER, 0-2; HEPBURN, 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Cheyney 38 (CURTIS, 11), Lock Haven 36 (FESTUS, 12). Assists--Cheyney 12 (BROWN, 5; JOHNSON, 5), Lock Haven 14 (HEPBURN, 5). Total fouls--Cheyney 16, Lock Haven 15. Technical fouls---None. A-745