WBB & MBB: Colonels Conquer Monarchs

Kay Yow Breast Cancer Fund/Senior Day game shapes up to be successful on all fronts for the Colonels: Women’s basketball defeats King’s for the first time since 2014 and men’s basketball gains revenge since their midseason loss to King’s.

Women’s Basketball

On Saturday, the Wilkes-King’s Rivalry took a step in a different direction, as the Wilkes women’s basketball team picked up a 58-55 win against their rival. This was Wilkes’ first victory against King’s since the 2013-2014 season.

It was also Senior Day for Wilkes, where they honored both Ashley Caster and Gab Giordano.

“Today we did a very good job defensively in our zone,” said head coach Tara Macciocco. “It hasn’t been there in past games and today it was. We put it together and made a couple shots.”

Against King’s, Wilkes flipped the script from earlier in the week, thanks to huge games from Giordano and sophomore Maddie Kelley. The pair combined for eight three-pointers and scored 39 of Wilkes’ 58 points.

The Colonels jumped out to an early 7-0 lead off of baskets by Caster and Kelley, as well as a three-pointer from Giordano. 

After the Monarchs secured a couple of free throws by Mackenzie Yori and one from Alexis Steeber, Wilkes scored seven more points to go up 14-3. 

By the end of the first quarter, Wilkes had continued to answer King’s and maintained the lead 23-14.

Both teams seemed to make defensive adjustments, causing the game tighten up on both ends. The second quarter saw spurts of offense, but when both teams went into halftime Wilkes carried a 32-25 lead.

It took over two minutes to see the first points go on the board in the third quarter, when Steeber took the ball in the paint and put up a layup for King’s.

The score stayed at 32-27 for the next minute and a half until Kelley hit two three pointers, expanding Wilkes’ lead to 11. However, Steeber made another layup for the Monarchs to cut their deficit down to seven before the third period buzzer sounded.

Wilkes hung on for their lives in the fourth quarter, as the Monarchs, led by Steeber and Yori, came at the Colonels with everything they had for the remainder of the game.

King’s went into the final minute and a half down by five, but they cut the lead down to just two with 41 seconds remaining.

After Wilkes made a few free throws and King’s continued making baskets, the game came down to one last shot attempt from Samantha Rajza. Luckily for Wilkes, her attempt was after the buzzer and off the rim.

“We have been in so many close games,” said Macciocco. “Today, they didn’t just make shots for 40 minutes, but they also played extremely hard for 40 minutes.”

Wilkes now has four conference wins this season after going the last two seasons without one.

“I have always set my goals and expectations high, maybe higher than they should be,” said Macciocco. “For us to have four conference wins in this league is tough, considering the stretch we went through the last couple years. I’m very proud and impressed.”

Wilkes will look to continue its push to postseason play, as they have two games remaining, one against Delaware Valley and one against FDU-Florham.

Men’s Basketball

The Colonels punched their ticket back to the MAC Freedom playoffs with a win over cross-town rival King’s.

“We feel comfortable heading into the tournament,” said Wilkes head coach Izzi Metz. “Road teams historically win in the tournament, so anyone can win. We need to continue taking things one game at a time.”

When King’s and Wilkes’ men’s basketball teams met on Jan. 16, the Monarchs shocked the MAC Freedom and beat the Colonels by nearly 30 points. The Colonels used this game to get revenge on their rival with a 76-51 win on the Senior Day.

Prior to the game, Wilkes honored their five seniors: Clay Basalyga, Tommy Bowen, Connor Evans, Marcus Robinson and Zach Walser. 

“We had a good energy level today for many reasons,” said Metz. “It was senior day, the game was for charity and we were playing our rival. I also think we have been playing really good basketball the last few weeks.”

Wilkes started all five seniors in this game to honor the group, and they hung in with the Monarch’s starting five. After about four minutes, Wilkes trailed 8-6. This caused Metz to put in his normal starters, taking Walser and Basalyga out for Mark Mullins and Rob Pecorelli.

Almost instantly, Pecorelli knocked down a couple of three-pointers for the Colonels, and they went on a run to take a 19-10 lead.

“That was huge,” said Metz, noting Pecorelli’s performance coming off the bench. “He’s been starting all year and you never know how he is going react coming off the bench, but he showed good maturity and did a good job for us.”

Wilkes continued to roll on the offensive side of the ball, as they shot 9-19 on three-pointers in the first half, including a buzzer-beater from Evans to put Wilkes up 46-26, seemingly draining life out of the Monarchs.

The second half followed the same map as the first meeting between these two teams. Instead of King’s being up big and holding the lead, it was Wilkes. The Colonels kept the Monarchs from fighting their way back into the game and finished with a 25-point win.

Wilkes finished with Pecorelli leading the team in points with 17, followed by Evans who had 15.

The Monarchs were led by Jake Pawliczak who scored 12 points.

Wilkes now officially advances to the conference playoffs with the win. They will be joining Delaware Valley, Eastern and the current top seed DeSales. Their final two games will help decide seeding. Delaware Valley lost Saturday, meaning Wilkes’ match up with the Aggies on Tuesday could help decide who has to travel to DeSales or Eastern.