Penn College Men Set for Basketball Opener
A year ago, young players were pressed into duty perhaps somewhat sooner than coach Chris Lemasters would have liked, but this season he expects it to pay dividends. The Wildcats open their season at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at NCAA Division II Mansfield University.
“We return eight players that were heavy rotation players for us throughout the season and each player has improved,” Lemasters said of his third edition.
“We had a group of guys that stayed around for summer classes this year and continuously pushed each other throughout the offseason. On a 90-plus-degree summer day when I walk through campus with my family, they would be out on the intramural field running sprints for hours on end,” the coach continued.
“Offensively, Marquis Delgado (a 5-foot, 10-inch guard from Mansfield) will continue to be the engine of our offense, as his ability to get into the lane opened up many things for us last year and will continue to this year as he came back stronger and quicker,” Lemasters said.
“Nate Brown (5-10 guard from Philadelphia), Bryce Lonsway (5-7 point guard from Tiffin, Ohio), Thomas Ross (6-3 forward from Williamsport) and Antony Griffin (6-3 guard from Philadelphia) all improved their games over the summer and have shot the ball extremely well in the preseason. Our ‘bigs’ continue to add more to their interior offensive game and are doing a wonderful job committing to our offense and seeing the entire floor,” he said.
Ross led the team in scoring and rebounding last season with 246 points and 150 rebounds. Delgado was second in scoring with 201 points.
“We are still extremely young. We, as a team, are taking it one day at a time and trying to make incremental improvements each practice. It’s a great group of guys in that we could have a different high scorer each game and I think we finally have a group that is fully committed to helping each other succeed,” Lemasters said.
“Toward the end of last season, we adopted almost a hockey line-change approach with five in and five out. We are still adjusting and looking at options for this fall, but if we go with that approach, the emphasis will be more on balancing those units to make them as strong as possible,” the coach continued. “In our two scrimmages so far, Lonsway, Brown, Ross, Kevin Laurence-El (6-5 forward from Milton) and Boylan have started, but it’s still fluid at this time.”
Lemasters is looking for his players to develop a tougher mentality and with good reason. They will be playing as a provisional member of NCAA Division III for the first time and competing in a new conference – the North Eastern Athletic Conference.
“We are jumping into a new conference this year with an extremely young team. Each day is going to bring new challenges and we have to make sure we keep everything in balance and play for one another. There are a few minutes each time we scrimmage full court, where each player makes the extra pass and it ends up being some beautiful basketball. Each day, players are beginning to see more of the court and know where their teammates are, so the focus is on getting as many game reps as possible in order to understand what each one of their teammates likes to do best,” the coach said.
Assessing his team’s strength, Lemasters said, “We have a team that can flat-out shoot the basketball. Shooting can be a very fickle thing and there will be times when we struggle, but we hit 14 3’s in our last scrimmage against Johnson College. If we continue to share the ball and search for the great shot instead of settling for contested attempts, we can put points up in a hurry.”
Improvement is needed in another area, however.
“We still battle with taking care of the basketball and it will improve with the more time we spend together as a team. It’s definitely a learning process to figure out where teammates like to catch the ball, who likes to cut backdoor, who fades after most screens, etc. As the weeks progress, we are getting better, but still have a tendency to throw passes where we think people are going to be,” he said.
Coming off back-to-back 4-21 seasons, Lemasters said the key to success this year will be “mental toughness and sticking together throughout whatever adversity may come our way.
“Our schedule is loaded this year and the level of play jumps up immediately when we hit the ground running against Division II Mansfield University. How our team reacts to tough calls, close wins/losses and playing time will be the difference between this year being a success or not.
“I think we have the most talent on our roster since I took over in the spring of 2012. Our hope is to jump into the conference and battle every single game. We scrimmaged Keuka in the fall of 2013 and have a bit of an understanding of the level of play, but until we jump in and see how we match up, it’s difficult to make an assessment.”
Looking to the NEAC and United States Collegiate Athletic Association championships, Lemasters said, “It’s a goal of the team, but right now, the emphasis is getting better every single game. Our growth from our first scrimmage to our second was amazing and we get better every day. As long as we continue to do that, I think we have a shot at being there at the end of the year.”
Dan Flynn, of Blairstown, New Jersey, and Elyssa Stanton, of Honesdale, were the top cross-country finishers for the Penn College men and women, respectively, in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships on Friday in Syracuse, New York. Both are seniors.
Flynn covered the 8K (4.96-mile) course at Drumlins Country Club in 30 minutes, 43 seconds to finish 71st in a field of 186 while Stanton ended No. 87 in a field of 178 women with a time of 29:30.7 over a 6K (3.7-mile) course. Tim Callahan, of SUNY ESF, won the men’s individual championship in 26:46.3 to earn his second title in as many years and Elaine Lowe, of Cleary University, took the women’s crown in 23:04.5.
In team competition, the Penn College women finished 16th in an 18-team field with 460 points while Penn College didn’t have enough men competing to field a full squad. SUNY ESF captured its fourth straight men’s championship with 39 points and Dine College claimed its first women’s team title with 37 points.
For the Penn College women, Jessica Wiegand, of Montoursville, placed 126th in 31:44; Brooke Hostetter, of Lancaster, was 149th in 34:45.1; Nicole Reyes, of Lancaster, was 167th in 38:16.1; and Samantha Thomas, of Loyalsock Township, was 178th in 42:19.3.
“I’m really proud of them. They exceeded all of my expectations,” interim coach Mike Paulhamus said. “It was a miserable day (weather-wise) and when the meet was over, they were muddy and messy, and I loved every minute of watching them run.”
Also, it was announced on Thursday that Stanton and Wiegand were named to the USCAA All-Academic Team. The team comprises upperclassmen with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.
“I wish all of my athletes were in that boat. It’s all about student first and athlete second. I am proud they were able to handle the books and also participate in the sport,” Paulhamus added.
For the Penn College men, Nathan Mashack, of Bloomsburg, was 118th in 32:59.3; Logan Ault, of Williamsport, was 149th in 35:32.9; and Matt Mullin, of State College, was 167th in 39:03.3. Flynn shaved more than three minutes off his time of a year ago and improved 46 places.
“He (Flynn) was pleased with his race, and, of course, he’s a senior and he was just determined to have his final race be a real good one,” Paulhamus said.
The coach noted that class commitments kept three of his other men from competing, but “they are (in college) to get the education and they made the right choice.”
Commenting on the runners’ accomplishments, Scott Kennell, director of athletics, said, “Great job everyone on an outstanding year. It was definitely a great start at the NCAA level. Thank you for all of your hard work throughout the entire season.
“Also, congratulations to both Elyssa and Jessica on earning USCAA Academic All-American status. Great job!”
In its dual meet season opener on Wednesday, the Wildcats fell to Wilkes University, 51-0. Four of the Penn College losses were by forfeit.
Despite being shut out, Wildcats coach Schuyler Frey said, “We’ve got a bunch of fighters. No one stopped wrestling. We just have to keep scrapping, tweak a few things and keep working with the guys. Mainly just to keep wrestling through the positions. Overall, against a really, really good Wilkes team, we’re pretty happy with the effort.”
In an exhibition bout, Wildcat Garrett Wolfinger, of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, recorded a fall in the 157-pound weight class.
On Saturday at the University of Scranton Electric City Duals, Penn College went 1-3 during team action. The Wildcats topped the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 27-21, and lost to The Apprentice School, 37-10; Scranton, 33-21; and Penn State DuBois, 39-11; to drop to 1-4 on the season. The Apprentice School ended the day 4-0, Penn State DuBois was 3-1, Scranton 2-2 and UMBC 0-4.
Individually, five Penn College wrestlers stood out during the daylong event as Mason Replogle, of New Enterprise, went 2-0 in the 157 and 149-pound weight classes; and Slade Storm, of New Oxford, at 149 and 157; Dan Frankenfield, of Dushore, at 174; Connor Route, of Canton, at 197 and 285; and Brandon Stover, of Oil City, at 285 and 197, all finished 3-1, although one of Stover’s wins came in an exhibition bout and two were by forfeit.
“The guys continue to fight harder each time they’re out and also a number of guys are finally wrestling at the weight they’re suppose to be at,” Frey observed.
“Apprentice won it all; they’re always solid, and we had a couple of breaks where we could have scored more points on them. We had a couple of close matches that we could have won, should have won. And the same thing with Scranton,” the coach said.
The Wildcats’ home opener is at 1 p.m. Saturday against Ursinus.
Penn College women’s volleyball player Courtney Gernert, a senior from Palmyra, was awarded North Eastern Athletic Conference Second Team honors. Selections were made by the conference’s coaches.
A senior outside hitter, Gernert was a two-time conference Player of the Week during the Lady Wildcats’ 5-7 NEAC season. She ranked among the conference leaders in digs (No. 7 with 378) and kills (No. 9 with 287). She was fifth in the NEAC in digs per set with a 4.02 average. Gernert ended her career with more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs.
Overall, Penn College completed its first season as a provisional member of NCAA Division III with an 11-16 record.
PENN COLLEGE SCHEDULES/RECORDS
Saturday, Nov. 7 – USCAA Championships at Syracuse, N.Y., women finished 16th in an 18 team field
Saturday, Nov. 15 – at Mansfield University, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 21 – vs. King’s College at King’s Pepsi Tip-Off Tournament, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 19 – at Gallaudet University, 6 p.m.
Overall dual record: 1-4
Wednesday, Nov. 5 – at Wilkes University, L, 51-0
Saturday, Nov. 8 – at University of Scranton Electric City Duals, lost to The Apprentice School, 37-10; lost to Scranton, 33-21; defeated University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 27-21; lost to Penn State DuBois, 39-11.
Saturday, Nov. 15 – host Ursinus College, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 18 – at Alfred State College, 7 p.m.