BETHLEHEM, PA - In a game that many did not expect to see the Cumberland County College Dukes (23-7) men's basketball team to make, the Dukes garnered the respect of many as they took on the undefeated, #1 ranked team in the country, the Brookdale Jersey Blues (32-0) for the Region 19 Championship. The team gave it their all for 40 minutes, but fell short to the Jersey Blues by a score of 70-62.
The Jersey Blues attacked Cumberland from the tip off running out to a 20-7 lead at the 14:33 mark of the first half. Grant Goode (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Jaimik White (12 points) shot well from the perimeter for Brookdale and Matthew Ringel (6 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks) handled the interior as they controlled play on both ends of the floor. Strong defensive play took the stage as each team would score 4 points a piece over the next three minutes before Dukes Head Coach Will Wareham called a timeout with the score at 25-11 with 11:11 to play. Coming out of the timeout, the Dukes broke the huddle rejuvenated and received big time sparks from reserve guards Brian Townsel and Kevin Clark. Teaming up with Tyler Lunsford, the trio brought the Dukes back within single digits with the score at 27-19 just under the ten minute mark.
After another timeout, Cumberland would switch to a zone defense and elevated their aggression on the offensive end. The aggression would lead to foul trouble for Brookdale and a burst of energy from the Cumberland faithful as the Dukes would close the deficit to 30-26 with 5:10 remaining in the half. A few possessions later and the Dukes would take their first lead of the day with a three pointer by Kevin Clark that would force Brookdale into a timeout and sent the Dukes bench and crowd into a frenzy. Unfortunately, turnovers would plague the Dukes before the half would end and their lead, which would reach 35-30, quickly dissipated as Brookdale would close the half on a 6-0 run to take a 36-35 lead into the locker room.
The theme of the second half was defensive pressure as both teams would only muster five points in the half's first 3 minutes. Brookdale, however, would separate slightly as they would take a 48-42 lead into the 12 minute mark. Cumberland would again dig deep and push themselves back into the game late in the second half with a pair of three points by Donovan Spencer and Tyler Lunsford and a lay-in by Kevin Clark. The run would get the Dukes within two at 54-52, but turnovers would again plague the Dukes as Brookdale would quickly turn Cumberland's misfortune into a 65-56 lead at the 1:46 mark to maintain the season for the Jersey Blues.
Kevin Clark led the Dukes with 21 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Tyler Lunsford's 16 points and 7 rebounds. Sophomore Haashim Wallace ended his Cumberland career with a strong effort that resulted in 10 points and 6 rebounds.
The loss ended Cumberland's most successful season in program history as they eclipsed the 20 win mark for the first time and participated in the Region XIX Final Four and the Region XIX Championship game for the first time in program history.