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Lady Wildcat Hoops Coach Looks for Early-Season Hint of Potential

It takes some coaches at least half a season to determine the kind of team they’ll have, but Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s basketball coach Jeff Chamberlin views Friday’s opener as the tell-tale for his club.

“They’re going to go out on the court and see bigger, stronger, faster players (than they saw in high school). It’s going to be a shock to them that first minute of that first game, so they’ve got to be ready for anything,” he said. “I think the Tip-off Tournament is going to show what we’re going to do further down the season.”

As hosts of their own tourney, the Lady Wildcats open against Lehigh Carbon at 6 p.m., while the Community College of Allegheny County faces Practical Bible College at 8. Saturday’s consolation game is scheduled for 1 p.m., with the championship at 3. All games will be played at Bardo Gymnasium on West Third Street.

“There are a lot of question marks this year. We lack experience, and that’s going to be the big one. We have six freshman and just one returnee, and that’s going to be difficult to overcome,” the third-year coach said. “Last year, I had a lot of seniors on the team and there’s a lot more I could do with them. This year, I’ve had to go back to the basics . . . Just build on what they went through in high school, and hope for the best.”

Jess Weaver, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard from North Clarion High, is the lone returnee from last year’s 8-13 team, and, having averaged 14 points and six rebounds per game a year ago, Chamberlin is counting heavily on her.

“She’s a very aggressive player. She was pretty much the heart and soul of the team last year,” the coach said of his captain.

Starting at center will be Alicia Medeiros, 5-10 center and a graduate of Otto-Eldred High; swinging between forward and guard will be Jna Peterson, 5-9, of Williamsport; Melissa McKey, 5-9, of Milton, gets the nod at forward, and Tia Hill, 5-6 of Warreasville High in Cleveland, Ohio, will run the point.

Chamberlin describes Medeiros as “an exceptional athlete who runs the court very well and has a nice 10-, 15-foot shot,” said Peterson has “very good speed and some real nice inside moves,” noted that McKey was a member of the College’s state championship soccer team and is just getting into basketball form, and added that Hill “has a lot of athletic ability and is a very good shooter from the outside, has a quick dribble and is a good defender.”

Coming off the bench will be guards Jennifer Sterner, 5-6, Spring Grove; and Jessica Kreiser, 5-5, Pequea Valley, who will be counted not only to spell starters, but to do so well.

What the team obviously lacks in height, Chamberlin feels it makes up for in speed.

“I like how much speed we have. That’s the one thing that’s going to help us out this year,” the coach said, adding that the mark of his teams strong man-to-man defense also will be a key factor this season. “We pride ourselves in that). It’s going to be straight-up man-to-man. We’re going to overplay and deny that first pass in. I think we can really feed off that and get our offense moving along.”

“Like any coach, I’m optimistic. I think we have the potential to be good,” Chamberlin summed up. “Like any coach, I want to be at the top of the pack, but, realistically, we’ve got a lot of question marks and we’ve got to answer them before we know what our true potential is.”

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