Women's Basketball Team Confident Entering Playoffs
The Pennsylvania College of Technology women's basketball team goes into Friday's Penn State University Athletic Conference semifinals as the top seed in the American Division and coach Ron Kodish says a championship is possible.
"I think we definitely have what it takes to win it all. We have the physical ability and right now we're as mentally tough as we can possibly be," Kodish said.
The Lady Wildcats (17-8 overall and 13-1 in the conference) face defending champion Penn State York (14-5, 10-4) at 6 p.m. In Friday's other semifinal, Penn State Delaware (15-7, 12-1) and the top seed in the National Division, squares off against Penn State Harrisburg (9-5 overall and in the league) at 2 p.m. The winners will meet at noon Saturday for the championship. All games are being played at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.
"We're come together as a team probably more than any team I've ever coached. I've never seen players who have bonded with one another and have gotten to know each other so well on and off the court. We're all striving for a single goal, to play at Bryce Jordan Center, and if we play there to win there and come home Saturday afternoon with a conference championship," Kodish said.
"I think we're as positive as we can possibly be. We've got good momentum, having won our last four games. It makes us feel pretty confident in our ability to compete," the coach continued.
Commenting on Penn State York, which his team beat 98-75 in its last outing, Kodish said, "(York) gives you a man-to-man matchup.
"It will be difficult. You beat a team once in the season and it's not as easy to beat a team the second time around, especially when all of the chips are on the line. They will be seeking to get redemption for the loss earlier in the year. They'll be well-prepared."
Penn State Delaware's only league loss was to Penn State York, and Kodish called it "a very good team. Delaware is a talented team. It will be real interesting.
"It's a thrill just to be in that position, competing for a conference championship in a newly formed four-year conference against teams that have really improved over last year and will continue to improve, given that it's a Penn State endeavor."
During the regular season, Penn College lost to Penn State Delaware, 69-51, and beat Penn State Harrisburg twice, by scores of 81-66 and 87-66.
Katlyn Stupar, a 5-foot-10 sophomore from State College, leads Penn College's offense with a 19.4 points-per-game average, but has gotten strong support from Brittany Blessard, a 5-4 sophomore guard from Renovo, who is averaging 13.3 points, and Amy Fassett, a 5-3 junior guard from Athens who transferred in from Broome County (N.Y.) Community College and is averaging 10.9 points for the season 15.4 over her last dozen games.
Also starting for the Wildcats will be Natali Plavi, a 5-3 sophomore guard from Elderton, and Rose Crowell, a 5-10 junior center from Temple Hills, Md. Sarah Mehlman, a 5-10 freshman center from North Schuylkill, joined the team at the semester break and has averaged 10.6 points per game coming off the bench.
For her career, Stupar has scored 934 points and averaged just under 25 points per game. She had 526 points in 17 games as a freshman (30.9 average) and has scored 408 this year. She set a school single-game women's scoring record with 43 points a year ago and matched that number again last week in the team's regular-season finale.
"She's probably not going to make it (1,000 points), but to have an athlete come close to 1,000 points in a two-year career is something that the program is proud of," Kodish said
The Wildcats are averaging 66.4 points per game on offense and allowing 60.1 on defense, but Kodish said the defense is right where he wants it.
"We're more than where I thought we would be at this point (defensively)," Kodish said. "We're playing as well teamwise with our man-to-man defense as any team I've ever had. We're also capable of moving up court, pressuring for 94 feet and maintaining our energy."