Penn College Basketball Teams Set to Open

Published 11.07.2008


Pennsylvania College of Technology men's and women's basketball teams reached the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs last season, and this year, as members of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, even bigger goals loom on the horizon.

Action for both teams starts Monday against Central Penn at Bardo Gymnasium on West Third Street in Williamsport. The women play at 6 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m. Both games will be aired on WLYC radio (ESPN 1050 AM and 104.1 FM).

Women The Lady Wildcats begin their second season under coach Alison Tagliaferri. Last year, they posted an 18-9 record and advanced to the PSUAC semifinals.

"We always have the same goals. We made it to the final four last year, but a PSUAC championship is our ultimate goal. We also play a lot of DIII schools and we're looking to improve and compete more with some of them," Tagliaferri said. "Being able to go to nationals this year is really neat, too, and that's also something that we are striving to do but one thing at a time."

Among the key returnees are the top two scorers from last year, Erica Logan, a sophomore guard-forward from Montoursville, and Amanda Ault, a senior forward-center from Milan. Logan scored 422 points, a 16.2-point-per-game average, and Ault tallied 373, a 14.3 average. Because of her academic course schedule, Ault only will be available during the first semester through December.

"We're looking for Amanda to step up and produce in the post the way she did last year. She'll be a key impact player the first semester," Tagliaferri said.

"Erica is expected to do great things this year. She has improved her game a lot. From the post aspect, she's more well-rounded. She's got a height advantage and she's one of our best outside shooters," the coach continued.

Also returning are Lindsay Weigand (sophomore/Watsontown) and Erin Mahoney (senior/Linesville). They are expected to share the point-guard responsibilities the first semester until Meagan Morris (junior/Herndon, Va.) returns in January. Morris averaged 9.6 points per game a year ago.

Key freshmen include Chelsey Holmes (guard-forward/Hughesville), Casey Braun (forward-center/Hughesville), April Gallagher (guard-forward/Avis), Kelsey Mack (guard-forward/ Douglassville) and Arlaya Morris (forward/Williamsport). Mack was recruited and received a full scholarship to play softball at George Mason, but switched majors and should be an important cog for the Wildcats, Tagliaferri said.

"We have tremendous scoring ability from pretty much every position," the coach said. "The transition game is going to be important "¦ With the additions of Gallagher, Holmes and Mack; they're excellent 3-point shooters. We have more well-rounded guards as far as shooting goes. "¦ We're more of a threat with everybody from the outside, so hopefully that will open things up for Amanda and Casey in the post."

Defensively, Tagliaferri is counting on Arlaya Morris and Mahoney.

"We have the potential. We have speed and quickness and we are improving. We look to do some man-to-man and some full-court pressure with the speed that we have acquired," the coach said.

Assessing her outlook, Tagliaferri said, "We have a lot of great new pickups and we'll go as far as our effort takes us. The girls are pretty excited to get going. "¦ We're working on picking each other up and staying positive.

"Kim Antanitis, the women's soccer coach, is my assistant. It's pretty exciting. I think that we can do a lot of great things this season."

Men Gene Bruno returns for season No. 13, and, with good reason,he sounds as though it could turn into one of his best. The Wildcats return their top four scorers from a year ago: Joe Simon, a junior guard from Renovo who scored 353 points and averaged 13.1 points; Craig Flint, a senior guard from Port Allegany who scored 328 points (12.1 average); Tom Little, a senior forward from Beacon Falls, Conn. who scored 233 points (9.0) and Greg Solyak, a sophomore forward-center from Lancaster who scored 231 points (8.9).

But that is just the start.

Phil Kaylor, a sophomore guard-forward from Lebanon, returns, as does Tyrone Holland, a sophomore guard from Stoughton, Mass.

One of the newcomers expected to contribute early is Mike Knepp (junior guard-center/Swiftwater).

"He's very athletic. I think he will help us at both the offensive and defensive ends. He's going to give us that little edge that we didn't have last year when we went dry as far as shooting. He can score by either shooting a 3-pointer or driving to the hole," Bruno said.

Also joining the squad are freshmen Neil Baskerville, a 6-foot, 5-inch forward-forward from East Stroudsburg; Leroy Joiner, a point guard from Williamsport; Jon Boob, a point guard from Jersey Shore; Wyatt Decker, a forward from Dushore; and James McCarthy, a guard from Douglasville.

"I'm looking for Little, Flint and Simon to bring back that experience that we're going to need until these other players get used to the system," Bruno said. "I look to be able to run nine guys.

"The big thing is I didn't lose anybody. We only won nine, but we probably lost seven games by five points or less. With the adds that we made, hopefully that will give us some more scoring power when we need it."

Before the team gets into the heart of its PSUAC schedule after the first of next year, it will have good tests against Wilkes University, in a tournament at Susquehanna University, and at Lycoming College and Mansfield University.

"I look at those games as getting us ready for league play. "¦ Even though Penn State Hazleton will be very tough in our division, I'm predicting there is a very good chance that we could end up in the final four this year," Bruno said.

As far as reaching the USCAA playoffs, Bruno said, "That would be icing on the cake. If we got up to that level, it would be very difficult because you are playing teams from all over the country.

"When you go to the national level, it's icing on the cake. If we would go all the way and win up at Penn State (PSUAC championship), then we will play with any of them."

"We're very optimistic," added Bruno, who is assisted by Kevin Pletz.

( Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college's Athletics Web site. ) For more information on the PSUAC visit online ; more information on the USCAA also is available on the Web.