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Bowling, Women’s Basketball Teams in Playoffs This Weekend

Two Pennsylvania College of Technology sports teams are headed into playoff action this weekend.

The bowling team, coached by Deb Vincenzes, will compete Saturday and Sunday in the Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association championships at Pleasant Valley Lanes in Altoona, while the women’s basketball squad, coached by Ron Kodish, will begin defense of its Penn State University Athletic Conference championship by hosting Penn State Hazleton at 3 p.m. Saturday at Bardo Gym in a semifinal game.

BowlingAfter taking titles in two of three divisions during the regular season, then capturing three team championships in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference finals, Penn College bowlers now have their sights set on the PCAA tournament, where they have fared extremely well over the past three seasons by winning eight state championships.

“I’m not totally surprised (by the way the season has gone thus far). I’m extremely pleased. These kids worked hard in practice and I’m extremely pleased with their accomplishments,” Vincenzes said.

“I knew that we have a lot of good bowlers, and we have a lot of people who are really into the game. But I didn’t think we would come through with as many honors as we have,” she continued. “I’m not totally surprised, but pleasantly pleased.”

During the conference’s regular season that ran from Nov. 10 to Feb. 7, the Wildcat men’s blue team of Brandon Hendricks (Northumberland), Andrew Hurst (York), Ryan Forry (Lancaster) and Preston McKay (Kersey) finished first, as did the men’s white team of David Florist (Horsham), David Pierce (Warren) and Mike Pollock (Sugarloaf). The women’s gold team of Marly Artley (Milton), Amanda Cole (Williamsport) and Keara Brussell (Damascus) finished third.

At the EPCC championships Feb. 21, Hendricks, Hurst and Forry took first in the men’s blue division; Florist, Pierce and Pollock took first in men’s white; and Artley, Cole and Brussell captured the women’s gold division. Another Wildcat bowler, Chris Beirne (Morrisville), was honored with the men’s high series award for his 746.

“The girls are where the big improvement is. Marly is a good steady girl who has had good guidance and is a mainstay, but Amanda is pretty much brand-new to the sport and she and Keara are the ones who have improved and make me think that they may have a chance. If they don’t win (at states), I think they will finish in the top three,” the coach said.

At the PCAA championships, competition will be held in individual and doubles events Saturday and team events Sunday.

Penn College men competing at states will be Hurst, Hendricks, Florist, Forry, Pollock and Pierce. Men’s doubles matchups will be Hurst-Hendricks, both of whom are averaging 209 for the season; Forry-Pollock and Florist-Pierce.

Artley, Cole and Brussell make up the college’s women’s squad, with Brussell and Artley teaming in doubles.

Although Vincenzes, in her first year as coach, thinks her bowlers are favored entering the state event among teams from the East, she is unsure how strong the competition will be from the West.

“The competition from the West would have improved, like we have improved. We’ve become more solid because you have the same people bowling together. Everybody knows each other better and it’s a more comfortable atmosphere,” Vincenzes said. “I’m very optimistic, but not overly confident.

“I think we’re going to do well. I’m excited about going,”she added.

Women’s Basketball“I think we’re going into it with good confidence. I think that we’re peaking at a good time,” Kodish said. “I’m not one for talking real positive unless I feel it is deserved, but I’ve seen some good things from this team in about the last month. I look forward to this weekend’s game.”

When the two teams squared off at Bardo Gym on Nov. 18, Penn State Hazleton won, 70-47. But the next time they met Feb. 3 at Hazleton, Penn College avenged the earlier loss, 86-71. Penn College takes a 9-14 overall record into the contest.

“The first game of the season, I don’t think I’ve ever had a team that was ready to open on opening day. I just don’t rush everything into the offenses and defenses, and it was a bunch of young kids on the floor,” Kodish reflected.

The second semester also brought to the team the return of Brittany Blessard (Renovo), Amy Fassett (Ulster) and Rose Crowell (Temple Hills, Md.), all on the championship squad of a year ago. In 13 games, Blessard averaged 16.5 points per game and Fassett 11.4.

“It has really helped us. It has given us a lot of depth, it has given us a good perimeter game offensively, it has given us real good quickness on the perimeter defensively, as well as good strength on the inside,” Kodish said. “We’re a little bit different team than we were in the first game of the season.”

In addition to Blessard and Fassett, both guards, Lady Wildcat starters are guard Erin Mahoney (Conneaut Valley) and post players Amanda Ault (Ulster) and Amanda Turner (Brackney). Ault is averaging 14.2 points per game.

Ten days will have lapsed since Penn College played its last game, and Kodish said the key over that stretch will be keeping his team sharp with scrimmages.

“We want to keep people healthy, and, right now, we’re as healthy as we can be. Mentally, we’re as sharp as we’ve been and we’re confident,” the coach said.

“Our whole goal was to get into the playoffs and have the opportunity to get back to Bryce Jordan. Once we get to Bryce Jordan, we’ll let the chips fall where they may; but this is a huge game in front of us on Saturday,” Kodish added.

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