Front line giving Boro men’s basketball a timely boost

Contributed Photo: Edinboro Sports Information
Senior center Sam Sealy-James (above) is one of the big men pushing Edinboro from the basement dwellers to playoff contenders.
EUP's Center is dominating in PSAC

By Mike Fenner
Staff Writer/Spectator

Night in and night out, second-year Edinboro men’s basketball head coach Pat Cleary typically knows what he’s going to get out of his prolific backcourt duo. 

Junior guard Henri Wade-Chatman, the Scots’ leading scorer and the second leading scorer in the entire PSAC at 18.9 points per game, is joined by redshirt freshman guard Jaymon Mason, a sixtime winner of PSAC West freshman of the week honors while averaging just less than 15 points per game in his first season, and the two have been the mainstays during Edinboro’s successful stretches.

The question mark throughout the 2014-15 season has been what the Fighting Scots’ big men are capable of bringing to the table.

As of late, the front line has done the job well, according to their coach.

“I really think that they’re approaching things the right way in practice,” Cleary said of his post players. “I think that they’re finally developing that confidence that we’ve been talking about for a while that they know they can go out and do it.”

Senior center Sam Sealy-James, a 6-foot-9-inch St. John’s transfer in his second year with the Scots, is Edinboro’s top rim protector and number two in the PSAC at 60 blocked shots, and has made strides in terms of production in recent outings.

Sealy-James stepped up with seven points, tied a career high in blocks with six and pulled down a career-best 11 rebounds in a home loss to Slippery Rock on Feb. 11, before scoring 10 points, with six boards and four rejections in just 19 minutes in a win at Clarion.

“I’ve just been trying to play my hardest out there,” Sealy-James said. “Coach has been talking to me, telling me to be more aggressive on offense and defense, so I’ve just been going out there trying to do that.”

The Medford, New York, native is averaging 5.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and four blocks per contest in his last five outings while nearing 25 minutes of action in those five games.

Senior forward Casey Baker, a 6-foot4-inch undersized power forward in his first and only year with the Scots after transferring from Urbana, has surged in the last eight PSAC games as he’s averaged 8.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his second go-around against the western division.

Baker scored a season-high 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for his lone double-double at Edinboro, which to this point was arguably his best performance of the season against Pitt-Johnstown back on Jan. 24 in a 7761 road win. His 14 points and nine rebounds against Clarion were part of an effort that saw six different Scots reach double figure scoring.

“Tommy (Scales) can really score, Casey can really rebound, Sam can block shots and change a game defensively,” Cleary said of his players’ unique roles. “So, while we do play all of them in a rotation, with Quinn [Lee Yaw], those guys bring something different to the equation.”

Junior center Tommy Scales, a 6-foot-8-inch Fairmont State transfer, in his first year with Edinboro, has often shown versatility from his big man position. 

Scales, who’s two career doubledoubles have come at Edinboro, generated career highs in points with 15 and blocks with three in the Scots’ 7977 upset win in overtime over then 16th ranked Indiana (Pa.) on Feb. 14.

Over the last two games, Scales has averaged 13 points, six boards and two blocks on average due in part to a double-double performance in his last time out against Clarion that featured 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. 

His first half play, according to coach Cleary, enabled Edinboro to overcome a nine point deficit on the road against the Golden Eagles.

“He was just getting it right at the rim and scoring it, second shots, he was rebounding the ball,” Cleary said after the Clarion win. “Tommy was fantastic.”

Edinboro now ranks as the third best rebounding team in the PSAC with 40 boards per game as well as third in blocked shots with 4.4 on average. 

The Scots, who hold a 13-12 overall record and 10-11 PSAC mark, as of Feb. 24, will look to earn a postseason berth in the upcoming conference tournament for the first time in two years.

With a recent resurgence on the front line, Edinboro will have its opportunity to do just that.

Mike Fenne is a staff writer for the Spectator. He can be reached by sports.spectator@gmail.com