Johnstown resident honored as St. Francis ends season with OT loss to Mount St. Mary's

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Philip Cmor, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
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Feb. 26—LORETTO — St. Francis University's men's basketball senior night ceremony was an abbreviated event.

With starters Ramiir Dixon-Conover and Mark Flagg having already announced they intend to take advantage of the NCAA's decision to not count this season against their eligibility and return next year, only two members of the Red Flash program were left to be recognized: walk-on guard Dan Henry and manager — and Johnstown resident — Denzel Mobley.

The season finale followed a pattern familiar to the Red Flash not quite finishing the job. St. Francis squandered a 10-point lead late and fell to visiting Mount St. Mary's in overtime, 72-65, on Thursday night at DeGol Arena.

St. Francis ended the campaign 6-16 overall, 5-13 in the Northeast Conference.

"This loss stings a lot," said Myles Thompson, the Flash's lone returning starter from their conference runner-up squad of last year. "I'm going to use this loss (as motivation) every time I'm in the gym, every time I lift, every time I shoot."

Ronell Giles led St. Francis with 14 points and four assists, while Marlon Hargis contributed 12 points and eight rebounds and Josh Cohen 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting off the bench, and Flagg finished with 10 points for the Flash. Deandre Thomas and Damian Chong Qui scored 16 points apiece for the Mount.

While all those players will be back, Mobley won't be, but his impact won't be forgotten.

"I've never seen him have a bad day. His passion and energy is contagious," Flash coach Rob Krimmel said. "We're certainly going to miss him."

Mobley completed his second year with the Red Flash.

Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, his family moved to Johnstown in 2012.

He played basketball at Penn Highlands, where the team won its first championship, and also bowled.

He wanted to walk-on with the Red Flash but there weren't any open roster spots, so, instead, he interviewed with men's basketball director of operations Luke McConnell to be the team's manager.

"He hired him on the spot," said Mobley's mother, Darla Morrow. "He loves it here."

Thompson had a big smile on his face when he and Cohen were asked about Mobley after the game.

"Last year, we'd come back from the trip, he'd be rebounding for dudes until 2 in the morning. He brought a lot of energy," Cohen said. "He's great to be around. And he can get a bucket."

That would have come in handy Thursday. The loss was a fitting end for a season that began with one of the program's best wins ever — at Pitt — but was filled with a lot of disappointment thereafter.

With Dixon-Conover and Flagg back, though, 2020-21 could be a mulligan.

"There wasn't a common thread (in our losses)," Thompson said. "I think the one thing we can do is get more disciplined. If we do that, I think we will win more games."

Already eliminated from NEC tournament contention, Krimmel sat Dixon-Conover and talented freshman wing Max Land, who were dealing with injuries but probably could have played if anything was on the line. Henry got the start, and Zahree Harrison joined Giles in an all-freshman backcourt for the last 36 minutes.

Even down two starters, the Flash were game from the tip. Giles hit Flagg on the pick-and-roll for a three-point play that put St. Francis up by eight at the 4:26 mark of the first half.

A Harrison layup a minute later had the Flash up by 10.

Thompson's strong drive with 1.3 seconds left made it 35-25 at the intermission.

Coach Dan Engelstad actually brought the Mountaineers out of the locker room with 12:30 left in halftime to walk through plays. Whatever adjustment was made, it worked — the Mount (10-10, 9-7) erased the SFU edge in 5:20, taking a one-point lead on Josh Reaves' corner 3.

St. Francis responded, though, and rebuilt the lead to 10 on Marlon Hargis' top-of-the-circle 3 off Giles pass from the post with 5:09 remaining.

The Mount, however, made a late charge, though, forcing overtime when Chong Qui's deep 3-pointer from the top touched nothing but cord, and Harrison's desperation pullup at the other end was off.

The Mountaineers scored the first six points in overtime to claim the win.

"Certainly not the ending that we wanted," Krimmel said.