The Bomber faithful at the men’s basketball game finally had a reason to storm the court, as the Bombers defeated Utica College 86–84 on Feb. 15 in Ben Light Gymnasium. The fans were shouting in triumph, as they rushed to give high-fives to each player, three of which were celebrating Senior Day.
The South Hill squad finished its remaining home games Feb. 14–15, falling in heartbreaking fashion to Elmira College but winning a thrilling game against Utica.
Against the Soaring Eagles, the Bombers lost 69–68 in the final three seconds when Elmira junior Tyler Dibble hit a game-winning layup. Ironically, the Bombers defeated the Soaring Eagles on Jan. 28 by the same score. Three Bombers notched double-digit points, but the team was unable to play formidable defense when it needed to most.
Head Coach Jim Mullins was said he was extremely upset and disappointed after the loss to Elmira.
“Our team continued to make the same mistakes all season long, and the team’s free throw shooting was awful, going just 21 of 31,” Mullins said.
The Bombers were unable to successfully guard junior forward Neil Randolph who dropped 23 points on the Blue and Gold.
Senior Frank Mitchell was assigned to handle Randolph and said his combination of strength and shooting ability was a challenge for the Bombers.
“[Elmira] runs some good sets for [Randolph] that allow him to choose if he wants to post if he has a certain defender on him, if he wants to pop and take it out to dribble,” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, we gave him a couple of open shots, and he took advantage of his opportunities.”
Fewer than 24 hours later, the Bombers were back on the hardwood and notched their seventh win of the season, knocking off Utica College.
Seniors Chris Jordan, Sweeney and Mitchell combined for 42 points, which was nearly half of the Bombers final score.
Late in the game, Sweeney made a free throw and junior Max Masucci hit a 3-pointer to even up the score to 84–84. But it was Mitchell who gave the Bombers the victory. Mitchell recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but no two points were more important than the ones that left his fingertips on the floater shot, with 4.2 seconds left to give the Bombers the go-ahead score. Sweeney also blocked Utica’s game-tying shot at the buzzer to secure the win.
Coach Mullins said his team needed to slow down the Pioneers’ offense in order to win.
“[Utica] is hard to contain and have some real speed and guys that are good with the ball, and I thought for the most part that we contained them,” Mullins said.
Jordan, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, suited up for this contest and was a starter. He said this game reminded him of when he first put on a Bomber uniform.
“I remember as a freshman, my first game ever we ended with a win,” Jordan said. “I wanted to go out with a win, and I had complete trust in Frank and Tom since I wasn’t out there in the end with my knee injury still healing up.”