Penn College Basketball Teams Set to Return to Court
After a monthlong semester and holiday break, Pennsylvania College of Technology women's and men's basketball teams return to action Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, against NCAA Division III opponents.
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the Penn College women, 7-2 overall, will face crosstown rival Lycoming College at Lycoming's Lamade Gymnasium. The Wildcat men, 4-6 overall, play at Marywood University at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
WomenThrough nine games, the Penn College women are averaging 69 points per game on offense and allowing 46, numbers that please first-year coach Alison Tagliaferri.
"We're definitely off to a good start, but we're going to be playing some much better competition in the second half, so hopefully we can keep those numbers up," she said.
In Penn State University Athletic Conference games, the Lady Wildcats are 3-1.
Erica Logan (freshman/Montoursville) leads the team in scoring with an 18.3 ppg average. Amanda Ault ( junior/Milan) is averaging 12.3 points, Megan Morris (sophomore/Herndon, Va.) is averaging 10 points, Lindsay Weigand (freshman/Watsontown) and Jessica Strasser (sophomore/Hawley) each are averaging 8 points per game and Danielle Trout (freshman/Linglestown) is averaging 7 ppg.
Despite the good start, the coach said there still is a long way to go.
"We have a lot of improvement to make. We need to be more consistent and play 40 minutes, as opposed to taking breaks here and there," Tagliaferri said. "Against the better teams that we're going to play we can't do that. We're working on being a two-half team as opposed to just showing up for one half."
Erin Mahoney, a junior from Linesville, returns this semester after missing the first, and the team will welcome the additions of Katie Novak, a transfer student from Washington & Jefferson, and Sarah Leach, who was on the college dance team but chose to switch sports.
Looking ahead to the Lycoming game and second half of the season, Tagliaferri said, "If the right team shows up, I definitely think we can hang with them. I'm trying to emphasize to the girls they can play with anyone. I'm going into the game to win. "¦ It's going to make us step our game to the next level and we can see if we're ready to play competition like that.
"If they play like the team that I've seen play, there is no reason in my mind that we can't come out with another state championship," Tagliaferri continued. "I played basketball a lot of years and I don't think I've ever seen a group of girls who work as hard as them. None of them are on scholarship; they just love the game of basketball. "¦ I was very lucky to walk into the team that I do have. It was a great situation for me for my first year."
MenOffensively, the Penn College men have scored in the 90s twice and hit 100 once. They are scoring an average of 70.3 points per game, but allowing an average of 79.6. During their first 10 games, they faced three NCAA Division III foes and one Division II opponent Mansfield University.
Although their overall record is below 500, the Wildcats are 3-2 in PSUAC games, where they are scoring an average of 81.8 points on offense and allowing 71.2 defensively.
"By the time we hit league play (four games into the season), we started to iron out the wrinkles," coach Gene Bruno said.
"We were in that Mansfield game for 16 minutes, until the kids decided to not slow it down and go. They (MU) outrebounded us 48-17, but they turned the ball over 26 times," he said.
Bruno called his team's game at Penn State Greater Allegheny a turning point when it rallied from an 11-point deficit with 3:41 remaining with a 16-0 run and won by five.
"Defensively, we're starting to come around. We're getting better at the trapping game. Unfortunately, we're coming off a four-week layoff, 100 percent four weeks," Bruno added.
"I'm very pleased with our progression. "¦ The kids are gaining some confidence. They're believing in the system and it's a very tight-knit group," Bruno said.
Penn College starters against Marywood will be Joe Simon (sophomore/Renovo), Craig Flint (junior/Port Allegany), Tom Little (junior/Beacon Falls, Conn.), Kyle Klunk (freshman/Hanover) and either Joe Wysock (junior/Lancaster) or Greg Solyak (freshman/Lancaster). Flint and Simon are averaging double figures in scoring through 10 games.
At the break, the Wildcats are second behind Penn State Hazleton in the PSUAC North Division, and Bruno is hopeful that his squad can maintain that position and earn a playoff berth.
"If we can make the playoffs, to me, that's a successful season. "¦ It's imperative that we hold down second place, and we have an opportunity," Bruno said. (Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college's Athletics Web site.)