Penn College Basketball Teams Opening

By week’s end, the winter sports season will be in full swing at Pennsylvania College of Technology as the basketball teams begin play on Wednesday when the women host Thiel College at 5:30 p.m. and the men entertain Alvernia University at 7:30 p.m., both at Bardo Gymnasium. North Eastern Athletic Conference play begins for both Wildcat teams Nov. 29.

ON THE HORIZON
Men’s Basketball
The Wildcats have made strides during each of coach Ryan Callahan’s first two seasons, improving from three wins two years ago to nine last season when they finished 9-16 overall and 7-13 in the NEAC. The nine wins was the most in a season for Penn College since 2010-11 and Callahan looks for more this year.

“We made a six-game improvement last year, but the jump this year will be tougher. It was much easier to go from a bad team to a competitive team. Last year, we were in games; we were competitive. We were in the playoff hunt right down to the last weekend. But to make that jump from a competitive team to a playoff team, getting to that 13-, 14-, 15-win mark, is going to be a big jump for us. We will really have to play well. … We will really have to be focused,” Callahan said.

Top returning players are 6-foot,-4-inch sophomore forward/center Ben Sosa, of Loyalsock Township; 6-foot,-2-inch sophomore forward Jesse White, of Harrisburg; 6-foot,-1-inch sophomore forward Carson Garvis, of Taneytown, Maryland; and 5-foot,-11-inch sophomore guard Erik Perry, of Waldorf, Maryland. Sosa led last year’s team in scoring with 378 points (15.1-per-game average) and averaged 5.6 rebounds per game while White averaged 5.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and Perry 8.6 points per game.

New players who are expected to contribute early are freshmen Rob Young, a 5-foot,-10-inch point guard from Abington; and 6-foot,-1-inch shooting guard James Bullock, of Philadelphia; 6-foot,-3-inch junior guard Spencer Bartron, of Camden, Delaware, a transfer student from Bryn Athyn College; and 6-foot,-2-inch junior forward Mike Troutman, of Williamsport.

“I really expect big things out of Rob Young and James Bullock. I think either one of them could be (NEAC) Freshman of the Year in our conference. They will do very good things for us and I think they could be the best backcourt in the league as freshmen,” Callahan said.

“We’re a small team; we’re undersized, but we’re pretty athletic,” said Callahan, who is assisted by Paul Petcavage. “I like what we can do with our ability. We get up and down the floor. Our ability (to outrun other teams) is going to lead to a lot of defensive stops, and, even though we are small, we’ve got some guys who can really get up. We’ll be able to rebound with anybody in our league.”

According to the coach, an improved half-court offense is an immediate concern.

“We’re good in transition … no problem … but when things slow down and we have to run some sets in the half-court, with our youth, we’re not just quite seasoned enough to read things and have the patience. … Hopefully, we will grow as a team and the half-court offense will be much better,” Callahan said.

The Wildcats’ basic defense will be a half-court, man-to-man with some zone and a couple of presses.

“I think we should be a playoff team in the NEAC. Morrisville State, which won the conference last year, and Lancaster Bible are always good. We play both of them in the early season and we will get to see what the best teams have and how we stack up. … I expect us to be in the mix when it comes down to the final four,” Callahan said.

“We’re going to have a very fun style to watch. We’ll be very entertaining. I’m excited that we have Lycoming College back on the schedule this year (Nov. 26); we didn’t play them last year and they are a fantastic team,” the coach added.

Women’s Basketball
Coach Lauren Healy begins her second season with three key returning players from last year’s team that finished 3-22 overall and 3-17 in the NEAC in shooting guards Jane Herman, of Greencastle, and Gwen Lavelle, of Pocono Summit, and point guard Maddie Wenk, of Biglerville. Herman, a 5-foot,-8-inch junior, averaged 11.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game a year ago; Lavelle, a 5-foot,-2-inch senior guard, averaged 9.6 points; and Wenk, a 5-foot,-3-inch junior guard, averaged 7.0 ppg. Both Lavelle and Wenk averaged 3.7 rebounds per game.

“I believe we have a stronger and more competitive team this year. We have three of our starters returning from last year that were key contributors. We have four freshman that will earn starting spots and play significant minutes every game. We are a more complete team and (that) allows us to add more options in our offense and be able to defend inside,” Healy said.

“We are a young team, but our basketball IQ and skill level has increased significantly from last year. I am hopeful that we will have more competitive games and can increase our wins this year,” the coach continued. “We have more depth to our team, which allows us to stay in tight games. We have a post presence this year, so we have the ability to run more offense and look inside. We also have very strong shooters and I anticipate having more people scoring in double digits.

“As a team, we did not start the season in shape, so that has been a major weakness for us. We are continuing to work on that and each day is getting better.

“In order for us to be successful this year, we need to be able to stop people on defense and defend one on one. I expect us to see most teams’ full-court press, so we need to be able to handle that pressure and to safely bring the ball up the floor. Also, we need to be able to finish open shots.”

Assessing the conference season, Healy, who is assisted by Travis Heap, said, “Every year is going to be challenging, but I believe we will be able to play better games this year. I want to see improvements and better progress from last year. Our conference and nonconference games will be tough, but I think we have a team that will be able to handle the pressure.”

FLASHBACK
Men’s/Women’s Cross-Country
Competing Saturday in the NCAA Division III Mid East Regional Championships for the first time, the Penn College men placed 34th in a 51-team field. Josh Velez, of Lewistown, led the Wildcats as he finished 112th in a field of 365 runners over an 8K course in 27:24.8. Also for the Penn College men, Thomas Runner, of Elkridge, Maryland, finished 138th; Matt Leiby, of Danville, finished 235th; Ben Erickson, of Norwich, New York, finished 247th; Chris Traugher, of Bath, finished 253rd; Chris Hogan, of Halifax, finished 290th; and Austin Weinrich, of Jenkintown, finished 319th. Haverford, paced by first-place finisher Peet Graham who covered the course in 25:22.9, won the team competition. Running as an individual, Wildcats freshman Sidney Trunzo, of Williamsport, placed 81st among 351 women over a 6K course in 24:09.8. Johns Hopkins, led by Ellie Clawson who finished in 21:33.5, took the women’s title in a 49-team field.

“I told the men before the race if they finished anywhere from 30th to 35th as a team, it would be a good day. It was good for us to see that level of competition. We haven’t been there before so we didn’t know what to expect, but, for our first time around, I think it was a good showing,” Penn College coach Nick Patton said, adding of Trunzo, “It was a great job by her.”

“We ended on a high note and I think this will propel us to a pretty good season next year as well,” the third-year coach added.

Wrestling
At the NY/PA Duals on Saturday at Wilkes University, Penn College went 0-3 after losing to New York University, 52-6; Hunter College, 36-18; and SUNY Cortland, 32-9, to drop to 0-4 on the season. Dylan Otis, of Towanda, went 3-0 on the day at 285 pounds with a fall, win by forfeit and win by injury default while Jared Mooney, of Palmerton, at 197; Christian Fox, of Boyertown, at 133; and Joe Swank, of Friedens, at 149 all finished 1-2.

Women’s Soccer
Reflecting on his team’s recently completed season that included records of 9-8-5 overall and 6-3-4 in the NEAC, where the Wildcats finished second, fourth-year coach John McNichol said, “The girls really battled (quarterfinal against Keuka College on Oct. 31) through that match. … We went to penalties and won (0-0 tie, 2 OT, 3-1 shootout). They really just did a great job. Everybody stepped up and made their kicks, and Taylor Gonzalez, of Lititz, was fantastic in goal. It was really fun to watch her play.

“We had a couple of good days training, went down to Penn State Berks on Saturday and played SUNY Poly (1-1 tie, 2 OT 4-3 shootout win Nov. 4). We played fairly well in the second half, after the first half was a little bit lackluster on our part. … Again, we made the penalty kicks and the girls did what they are supposed to do. They are very confident. … Progressing to the NEAC Championship for the first time in program history is something we take a lot of pride in and we are very happy with it.”

Facing four-time defending champion top-seeded Penn State Berks on Sunday, the third-seeded Wildcats fell, 4-0, but even that defeat was an indication in the progress they have continued to make as one year ago to the day, on Nov. 5, they dropped a 7-0 decision to Berks in the conference semifinals.

“We’ve taken a step each year and it’s been very exciting to watch the development of our players individually and collectively. It’s something we are very proud of. I think we just, honestly, ran out of gas on Sunday (after spending a lot of physical and emotional energy in the previous two matches, including a game the day before),” McNichol said.

“I think we have closed the gap a little bit with some of the top teams in our conference, but, at the same time, we still have some work to be done. … We have to work to continue to get better and replace some really talented players who graduate this year,” the coach said in reference to departing Hailee Hartman, of Lampeter; Hanna Williams, of Marion, New York; Breica Beck, of Lancaster; and Jane Herman, of Greencastle. “… The legacy that they are leaving is very special.”

Seven Penn College players earned All-NEAC honors — Ashley Donat, of Lenhartsville; Herman; and Francesca Timpone, of Smithtown, New York, were named to the Second Team, while Hartman; Beck, of Lancaster; and Dominique Brown, of Benton; and Taylor Gonzalez, of Lititz, earned Third Team honors — and McNichol said, “In our opinion, we had a very good group. They worked extremely hard. From the very beginning this year, they were very excited about getting in here and improving on our results from last year. … It was very exciting for us to see those girls get the recognition they really deserve and something we were very happy with. I think it speaks volumes to how hard they worked in the offseason and what they’ve done moving forward.

“We’re really looking forward to who we have coming back, we think we have a quality team. Right now, the big thing is just continue to bring in good recruits. … We have some very quality players who have committed to us and still (have) some more out there that we are working on. … As tough as it is to end this year, for me, my mind has already started to wander to next year.

“This was a very special year. For me, personally, and programwise, it was incredibly special,” McNichol said, alluding to the birth of his first son and the way his players embraced his family. “You can tell, that’s what they want out of our program: They want it to be a family, they want to be together, they loved being around each other, and I couldn’t be happier … They are awesome to be around.”

SCHEDULE/RECORDS/RESULTS
Men’s Basketball
Wednesday, Nov. 15 — host Alvernia University, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 17 – at Grove City College, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18 – at Geneva College, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 21 – host Elmira College, 5 p.m.

Women’s Basketball
Wednesday, Nov. 15 — host Thiel College, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 15 – at Arcadia University, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18 – host Westminster College, 2 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 21 – at Lycoming College, 5 p.m.

Wrestling
Overall: 0-4
Saturday, Nov. 11 – at Wilkes University NY/PA Duals vs. New York University, L, 52-6; vs. Hunter College, L, 36-18; vs. SUNY Cortland, L, 32-9;
Saturday, Nov. 18 – at Muhlenberg College Duals, 9 a.m.
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 1-2 – at Messiah College Petrofes Invitational, noon

Men’s Cross-Country
Saturday, Nov. 11 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Qualifier at Big Spring High School, Newville, finished 34th in a 51-team field
(End of season)

Women’s Cross-Country
Saturday, Nov. 11 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Qualifier at Big Spring High School, Newville, no team entered
(End of season)

For more on the North Eastern Athletic Association, visit the conference website.

For more, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 14

Pennsylvania College of Technology is a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University