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Penn College Basketball Teams Open Monday at Home

The Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s and women’s basketball teams open their respective seasons Monday night hosting Central Pennsylvania College at Bardo Gymnasium. The women tip off at 6 and the men at 8.

Men The Wildcats lost much of their height to graduation, but return plenty of offensive firepower in Leroy Joiner (sophomore/Williamsport), Joe Simon (senior/Renovo) and Greg Solyak (junior/Lititz). Joiner led last year’s team in scoring with a 16.4 points-per-game average, Solyak averaged 13.9 ppg and Simon averaged 12.7 ppg. Simon needs 130 points to break the college men’s all-time career scoring record of 1,196 points set last season by Craig Flint.

Joiner earned Penn State University Athletic Conference All-Conference accolades last year and Simon was an honorable-mention selection. Penn College went 18-12 last season, losing in the PSUAC quarterfinals, before going on to finish sixth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships.

“We’re looking at being very small, which probably will be our Achilles’ heel, but, other than that, we’ve been working real hard on our man-to-man defense harder than we ever have and boxing out; big-time boxing out,” said coach Gene Bruno, who is beginning his 14th season. Bruno welcomes new assistant coach Tony White, a product of the Williamsport Area High School program, and former South Williamsport High standout Jason Perry, who is a volunteer aide.

“I think our transition will be OK. Our offense, I don’t know whether we’ll be able to produce as many points as we did last year (81.8 per-game average) just because of our size. We have some big shoes to fill and I expect an uphill battle. I don’t expect much before Christmas because of our tough schedule. I think, when we get to conference play, we should be able to compete,” Bruno continued.

“Tough” may not be the word for the Wildcats’ first month. Higher-division opponents include Marywood University, King’s College, Susquehanna University, Wilkes University, Mansfield University and Clarion University. Also, in early January, they will participate in a tournament at Scranton University and, later that month, are scheduled to host Lycoming College.

In addition to guards Joiner, Solyak and Simon, Bruno is counting on freshmen Noor Ford (Williamsport) and Noah Martz (Bloomsburg), sophomore Don Stevenson (Renovo), Nico Italiani (junior/Easton), Phil Kaylor (junior/Lebanon), Wyatt Decker (sophomore/Dushore), Jim McCarthy (sophomore/Huntingdon), Kulu Momo (senior/Williamsport) and Allen Regan (freshman/Woodbine, N.J.). Mike Knepp (senior/Swiftwater), who played last season, is expected to join the team next semester.

“The bottom line is I’m probably going to have a nine-/10-man rotation again. Unfortunately, I’ll have some (inexperience) out there if I want any kind of depth,” Bruno said.

Women Coming off a 16-10 season during which it lost in the PSUAC quarterfinals, Penn College returns three key players in guard Lindsay Wiegand (junior/Watsontown), guard-forward Jessica Strasser (junior/Hawley) and shooting guard Kelsey Mack (sophomore/Douglassville). Mack averaged 10.6 points per game. Returning to the squad from two years ago is Danielle Trout (sophomore/Harrisburg).

“They have a lot of experience and scoring potential. I feel that we should be fine in that department,” said coach Alison Tagliaferri, who is entering her third season. Tagliaferri is assisted by Kim Antanitis, the college’s women’s soccer coach.

Newcomers include three South Williamsport products freshmen Jessica Hohman, Ashlee Mull and Kierstin Steer along with Abigayle MacDonald (freshman/Red Lion) and Juliette Yeager (senior/Hamburg). Mull, Steer and Yeager, however, are members of the women’s soccer team and won’t join their basketball teammates until Monday.

“We don’t have very much depth. We have a couple of players coming in next semester, but getting into foul trouble is always a concern,” Tagliaferri said.

“We have a little more speed this year, so I hope we’ll be able to run the floor well. My main concern is our defense. We usually can put points on the board and it’s a matter of holding other teams to low scores. We’ll have to continue improving on that,” she added.

The Wildcats will need to take advantage of a light December, when only one game is scheduled, because things get brutal in early February when they play on four consecutive nights and five of six. Higher-division colleges on the schedule include Lock Haven University, Lycoming College, Susquehanna University, Misericordia University, Elmira (N.Y.) College and Marywood University.

“We put Division II and III schools on the schedule to make us better and, hopefully, that will help us out for our league games. Our goal is to win the league and I don’t see any reason why we can’t. We have a lot of new faces, but they are talented,” Tagliaferri said. “They just have to have the mind-set to go out and win games. If we’re not consistent, that’s what got us in trouble last year not winning games we should have won. We’ll see what happens.”

(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web site. More informationabout the PSUAC is available online; for more informationabout the USCAA, visit on the Web.)

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