Penn College Teams Set to Step Back Into Action

Published 01.06.2013

Wildcat Weekly

Following a near-monthlong semester break, three Pennsylvania College of Technology winter sports teams are scheduled to return to action Saturday. The women’s and men’s basketball teams host Penn State Greater Allegheny at 1 and 3 p.m., respectively, at Bardo Gymnasium while the wrestling team travels to Alfred (N.Y.) State for a 1 p.m. match with Alfred and 2:30 p.m. encounter with Bergen County (N.J.) Community College.

Men’s Basketball
Under first-year head coach Chris Lemasters, the Wildcats have endured some difficulties that resulted in a 1-11 start (0-4 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference), yet the coach remains hopeful about the season’s second half.

The loss of what he expected to be his starting backcourt only one game into the season took a toll, but the work that his backup guards got early-on “should make us better in the long run,” Lemasters said.

“We have more ability and talent than we did last year (Lemasters was the interim coach during the second half of last season). We got beat pretty handily by Rochester (Mich.) College (Dec. 17), which also has beaten some (NCAA) Division I teams, but there were quite a few plays – the effort that I saw – if we put that out against some of the Penn State schools, we’re going to be successful,” the coach said.

Scott Fenton, of Dickson City, leads the team in scoring with 150 points, a 12.5 per-game average, while Jesse Newman, of Waterfall, has scored 114 points and is averaging 9.5 per game.

“We’ve just got to be more efficient with our offense. We’re playing decent defense in the half court, but we need to limit the turnovers in our offense because most of the points that teams are getting against us are in fast breaks – we turn it over and they are heading the other way,” Lemasters said.

“We just need to put it together for 40 minutes,” he added.

Women’s Basketball
“We’ve got to get back in shape and ready to go because it’s three games a week from here on out. … It’s a loaded schedule. It’s all games and not much practice,” third-year coach Matt Wilt said. The Penn College women are 7-5 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

“(After Allegheny) If we can go into Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre, they both are in our division, and win, we will have the one-up in the division,” the coach noted.

Better shooting and good rebounding have been keys so far. Offensively, three players are averaging in double figures as freshman Jamie Steer, of South Williamsport, has scored 156 points (17.3 average); her senior sister, Kierstin, has scored 123, 11.2 average; and sophomore Mackenzie Brown, of Lititz, has scored 117, 10.6 average.

“We don’t have to rely on one person. We can run our offense and run it like we’re supposed to,” Wilt said of the offensive balance.

One concern, however, is turnovers as the Wildcats are averaging 32 per game.

“We’ve got to take care of the basketball. … It’s the unforced turnovers that really hurt. … We are not going to beat teams turning the ball over as many times as we have,” Wilt stressed.

Rejoining the team from last season is Carrie Egli, of Picture Rocks.

Penn College was ranked No. 13 in the Week 5 United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Coaches’ Poll. Greater Allegheny is ranked No. 12.

“We’ve been hit with the injury bug the first semester. It seems like we’d have one guy out and, when he came back, we’d lose two. But I think if we’re able to get healthy and stay healthy this next semester, we’ll be in pretty good shape,” coach Schuyler Frey said of his team that is 7-5 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

“Overall, I’m really happy with their improvement from the beginning of the season. … I’m looking forward, with this break, (to them) refreshing their mental part of the game and being ready to go this next half,” the third-year coach continued.

“We’re going to wrestle a lot of good teams (the second half). That’s one of the things we wanted to do, step up the competition and take any bumps and bruises we need to take now so we can be ready when it comes to the postseason and time for nationals.

“We have a number of exhibitions, with Lock Haven, Bucknell, Bloom(sburg). I’m always anxious to wrestle those guys to see how we match up. Even though they may not be starters and nationally ranked, those guys are training right alongside the big guys they have on their team and it’s a good measure to see where we are,” Frey said.

While most members of his squad are performing at the level he expected, Frey said two who have stood out early are Jasper Ocker III, of Burnham, at 197 pounds, and Ryan Hart, of Wyalusing, at 133 pounds.

“Jasper has had three or four pins in a row and I think he’s just finding out how good he really could be. … Ryan is a hard-goer and has done really well. I’m anxious to see what he does next semester,” Frey added.

Men’s Basketball
Overall record: 1-11
PSUAC record: 0-4
Saturday, Jan. 12 – host Penn State Greater Allegheny, 3 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 14 – at Penn State Lehigh Valley, 8 p.m.

Women’s Basketball
Overall record: 6-5
PSUAC record: 3-1
Saturday, Jan. 12 – host Penn State Greater Allegheny, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 16 – at Penn State Hazleton, 6 p.m.

Overall record: 7-5
PSUAC record: 3-0
Saturday, Jan. 12 – at Alfred (N.Y.) State, 1 p.m.; vs. Bergen County (N.J.) Community College, 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan.  15 – at Penn State Greater Allegheny, 7 p.m.

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