The most successful class in the history of Gettysburg College men’s basketball was still missing one accolade on its resume as it walked into the Mayser Center at Franklin & Marshall College on March 1, 2009 – a Centennial Conference championship.
The five seniors – Chris Nevolo, Dan Capkin, Jack Kern, Corey Dorsey, and Joe Spierenburg – had won more games in their careers than any previous class of basketball players. They led the team to the NCAA Division III Championship quarterfinals in 2008, the furthest a Gettysburg team has ever advanced in the national tournament. They also won a school-record 24 games in 2007-08.
The conference title had eluded the group through their first three seasons, but all that would change at the end of a roller-coaster 2008-09 season.
View the video above for an inside take on the championship run with former team captains Capkin and Nevolo and read the original recap from the game below.
Original Release – March 1, 2009
Credit: Braden Snyder, Director of Athletic Communications
LANCASTER, Pa. – Senior guard Dan Capkin (Wynnewood, Pa./Lower Merion) picked an opportune time to have one of the best games of his career.
Capkin drained 8-of-12 three-pointers, setting a Centennial Conference Tournament record as well as a personal career-high for threes made in a game, and scored a game-high 26 points to lead third-seeded Gettysburg to a 73-65 victory over top-seeded, tournament host, and No. 23 Franklin & Marshall Sunday afternoon at the Mayser Center.
With the win, the Bullets (18-8) posted their third Centennial Conference title and their first since 2002. Gettysburg receives an automatic bid in the NCAA Division III Tournament and will make their second-straight appearance in the “Big Dance” after receiving an at-large bid last season.
Sophomore center Andrew Powers (Boyertown, Pa./Boyertown) added 18 points and eight rebounds while senior guard Corey Dorsey (Frederick, Md./St. John’s at Prospect Hall) finished with 17 points and four assists. Powers was a perfect 7-for-7 at the foul line, including two big shots to give the Bullets a six-point lead with 13 seconds left, while Dorsey went 9-for-11 as the Bullets shot 90.0 percent (18-for-20) at the charity stripe.
Senior forward Joe Spierenburg (Chambersburg, Pa./St. Maria Goretti [Md.]) grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots, and senior guard Chris Nevolo (Neshanic Station, N.J./Somerville) tossed in seven points, including a pair of clutch shots in the final three-and-a-half minutes
Capkin shot an incredible 70.6 percent (12-for-17) from beyond the arc in his two conference tournament games after going 4-for-5 against McDaniel in the semifinals. As a team, the Bullets were a red-hot 55.6 percent (20-for-36) from downtown.
“I’m a shooter, and I think it’s going in every time I put it up,” said Capkin. “I felt good today.”
Senior forward Daniel Selig led Franklin & Marshall( 22-5) with 17 points off the bench. Sophomore forward James McNally added 15 points, nine rebounds, and five assists while sophomore guard Anthony Brooks scored 13 points.
With Gettysburg clinging to a 60-58 lead with 3:34 left, Nevolo buried a trey from the right corner just before the shot clock expired. It was Nevolo’s only three-point field goal attempt of the tournament.
“I was coming off a screen and I saw the shot clock was winding down,” said Nevolo. “I just wanted to make a big shot for my team, and I was really glad it went down.”
Brooks answered for the Diplomats, draining a three from the right wing with 3:20 to go. But Capkin had one more dagger left, knocking down his final trey from the same spot as Nevolo with 2:08 left, making it 66-61.
Junior guard Clay Scovill made a pair of free throws to close the gap to three with 1:52 left, and Brooks followed up with a jumper to draw the Dips to within one (66-65) with 1:13 remaining.
With his team needing another big bucket, Nevolo came through again, driving down the lane and dropping in a lay-up with 48 ticks showing, making it 68-65. McNally then missed a jumper, and Capkin came down with the rebound. Dorsey was fouled and went 1-for-2 at the stripe, and after Brooks misfired on a three-pointer, Powers rebounded and hit his two big free throws with 13 seconds left. Following another missed three, Dorsey set the final score with two foul shots with four seconds to go.
The Bullets conference title caps a remarkable late-season turnaround. After a 2-6 skid from Jan. 24-Feb. 14, the Orange & Blue closed the year with four straight victories over the conference’s top two teams, posting two wins apiece over F&M and McDaniel.
“Things kind of snowballed there for a couple of weeks, but we came back strong,” said Spierenburg, who played in his 107th game to set a school record. “We believed in ourselves, and we knew we were going to win the conference; it was just a matter of how we would do it.”
“We never stopped working,” said Capkin. “We kept showing up for practice every day working our butts off. We just rode it out.”
The Bullets were hot from long range right from the start, nailing their first three of their first four three-point attempts. Capkin drilled consecutive treys before Powers knocked down a three-ball of his own to account for a 9-2 Gettysburg run as the Bullets built an early 11-4 lead.
The Diplomats answered with five unanswered points to tie it up with 13:15 on the clock, but a 5-0 spurt from the Bullets late in the period restored Gettysburg seven-point advantage after a Powers lay-up with 2:36 to go made it 27-20. Dorsey kicked off the surge with a conventional three-point play, taking a nice outlet pass from Nevolo and converting a fast-break lay-up and free throw.
Powers converted a pair of free throws with 21 ticks showing after getting fouled on a jumper from the left elbow, making it 29-23, but sophomore guard Steve Tolliver drilled a trey from the top of the arc as the horn sounded, pulling F&M to within 29-26 at the break.
Powers scored 13 of his points in the opening half while Selig and McNally led the Diplomats with nine and eight points, respectively.
F&M chipped away at the deficit and took its first lead of the game (43-41) on a pair of Brooks free throws with 13:23 on the clock. Three more lead changes followed over the next 1:20, and the Bullets would not trail after another Dorsey old-fashioned three-point play on another drive into the paint. His free throw made it 47-45 with 12:03 left.
Dorsey’s play was the start of an 8-0 run, and his floater put the Bullets up 52-45 with 8:57 showing. However, F&M came right back with a 7-0 spurt, cutting the gap to one on a McNally put-back with 6:59 remaining.
The Diplomats tied it after a conventional three-point play from McNally with 6:04 to go, but a Capkin deep three from the right wing put the Bullets in front (58-55) to stay.
“It was definitely the one piece that was missing,” said Capkin, on the team’s conference title. “We had tip-off tournament titles, Christmas tournament titles, the [Gettysburg single-season] wins record, and the NCAA wins. It was our ultimate goal all four years, and we finally did it.”
“I’m really proud of the senior captains – they did it,” said Gettysburg head coach George Petrie. “They were so determined and were not going to let this one get away.”
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