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Penn College basketball teams opening

Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s and women’s basketball teams open their seasons this week and its cross-country teams will compete in NCAA Division III regional action. In action Saturday, the season ended for the college’s women’s soccer team and its wrestlers fared well in an invitational.

Men’s basketball
Last season, coach Geoff Hensley’s first, the foundation to his program was laid. This year, with some seasoned players returning and much-needed height added, he hopes to take it to the next level, but knows it will take a bit of time – and patience.

The Wildcats open at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Valley Forge University.

Key returnees are senior Elijah Vazquez, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Woonsocket, Rhode Island; and 6-4 Ben Sosa, of Loyalsock Township, and 6-1 Carson Garvis, of Taneytown, Maryland, both senior forwards.

Vazquez, who joined the team in the second semester last year, scored 259 points and led the squad with a team-best 18.5 points per game average. Sosa scored 196 points (10.3 average) and Garvis scored 222 points (9.7 average). In three seasons, Sosa has scored 835 points.

“I expect a big year from Elijah, Ben and Carson. They got great experience last year competing against the best teams in the conference, and even in the country,” Hensley said. “In our nonconference schedule last season, we played six teams that advanced to their conference tournament championship game and several of those made the NCAA tournament. That was great experience that will help our players grow and improve.”

Also returning is Ryan Lockman, of White Salmon, Washington, a 6-2 senior forward who scored 268 points (13.4 average) last season and was tops with 139 rebounds (7 per game).

Some of the new faces that have played well through the first two weeks of practice, according to Hensley, are 6-3 junior guard Damon Kreider, of Landisville; 6-foot junior guard Mason Bossert, of Myerstown; 6-7 freshman center Kalen Veres, of Etters; 5-10 junior guard Fred Young, of Waterbury, Connecticut, and 6-foot junior guard Brody Baker, of Lock Haven.

“They all have different skill sets, but they are all team-first players who will do whatever it takes to help our team win,” Hensley said.

Also on the roster is 6-10 sophomore center Bruce Fagan, of Erie.

“We needed size and athleticism in last year’s recruiting class so we were very fortunate to get two players 6-7 or taller. Last year, we were significantly smaller than most of our opponents, so our key additions to the team will hopefully boost our team to the next level,” Hensley said.

“We are a brand-new team. It will be a process for everyone — players and coaches — learning about each other and coming together as a team. Compared to last year, we are significantly faster, strong, more athletic and bigger. This team has a ton of potential. To this date, the guys have been working extremely hard and progressing well. We are hopeful for a more successful season,” said the coach, whose team was 3-22 overall and 2-14 in conference play a year ago.

“We are a very mixed group. We recruited a number of transfers and true freshmen. We have eight seniors, which is a large senior class, but we also have 14 first-year players with our program. It is a good mixture of veteran leadership and new energy. With so many new players, I am wanting to see progress with our team chemistry. I anticipate having our bumps in the road early on in the season, but once the second semester rolls around and we find our true identity, that’s when we should hit our stride right in time for conference play,” Hensley said.

“Our strength has been our defense and competitive energy. We have a group of young men who are extremely competitive and show up to practice every day working hard with great energy. We can be very tough when we focus that competitiveness and energy on the defensive end of the court,” Hensley said, adding, “We can always get better from an execution and rebounding standpoint. We have a ton of new players that are trying to learn a new offense that will just take some time.

“The key to our team’s success will be how quickly we can jell together and play great team basketball at a high level. We have shown glimpses in practices and scrimmages just how good this team can be, so once we learn how to put it all together for a full 40 minutes, we will be an extremely tough team to beat.”

Looking ahead, Hensley said, “I am very optimistic for this year. There is an exciting buzz around our team right now as we are in the beginning stages of building a championship program. Our returners look better than ever and we brought in some players that will be able to compete at a high level and make us much more competitive in the conference. Our conference is very good on the men’s basketball side, so moving up the conference standings will be a difficult task; but it’s a challenge we are excited and ready to take on.”

Women’s basketball
Britni Mohney takes over a program that has seen just nine wins in the last four seasons – seven wins in conference play – but she brings a resume and an energy that she hopes will turn things around.

Mohney spent the previous five years as the head coach at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she guided her team to regular-season championships in 2015 and 2016. Her teams reached the postseason in four of her five seasons in Winston-Salem.

“My coaching philosophy can be summed up in three words: believe, family, integrity. Belief that all things are possible. Through loyalty, strength, togetherness and unity, our family can rise above any challenge that may come our way this season. Integrity – are we being the best versions of ourselves,” Mohney said.

“Not only are we developing sound student-athletes, but we are preparing the young women to be strong independent females that are ready to take on this world after their time with Penn College,” she continued. “I am the coach that is going to be there with you every step of the way, the one who you can confide in. The coach that is going to be energetic and loud on the sideline; I am driving this energy bus and the more people come on board with me on this bus, the longer our ride will be.”

The Wildcats open at 1 p.m. Saturday against Alvernia University at the Alvernia Tip-Off Tournament. Also in the field are Adrian College and Brooklyn College. Championship and consolation games are scheduled for Sunday.

Returning Penn College players include Madison Klock, of Elysburg, a 5-foot-6 sophomore guard, who topped last year’s team in scoring with 243 points (10.6 average) and 5-8 junior forward Tori Wolfe, of Dalmatia, who led the squad with 149 rebounds (6.8 per game). Another key returnee is Maci Ilgen,of Spring Mills, a 5-9 sophomore forward who averaged 7.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a year ago when the Wildcats finished 1-24 overall and 0-16 in the NEAC.

“We have a young squad, but our returning cast have gained valuable experience in their underclassmen years that can almost make them veterans. But currently, we are very heavy with our sophomore and first-year classes. That makes it exciting for what the future holds not only for our program this year, but in years to come,” Mohney said.

“The good thing about our program is that we have a lot of options to go with this year for the starting lineup. We believe that this is earned and can change throughout the course of the year, depending on matchups or what our goal is for the game,” the coach said. “Each player has their role on this team, so if we are playing a more defensive game against a specific opponent, I will be having a more defensive lineup. I trust with these student-athletes that whatever five start or end the game, they will do the job that needs to get done.”

Mohney continued, “We are very guard-heavy, but we also have forwards that can move very well. Our game is run and gun; the quicker we can get the ball up the floor and score easy, the better. This allows us to work extremely hard on the defensive end because our offense will be our quickness and fitness. I told the student-athletes coming in that we will be the most in-shape team and we work on that day in and day out in and out of our drills.

“Because we are so quick with our movements, we need to work on having patience within our half-court offense and really learning what our strengths are; to capitalize on them. Limiting our turnovers, working hard for 40 minutes and playing together as one unit are areas in which we are really putting our focus in the beginning of our season. The little things we do each day will add up to be rewards.”

Mohney and assistant coach John Heap are putting a special emphasis on defense.

“Defensively, we will be looking to be pests on the floor. In your face, aggressive defense. Never allowing the (opposing) offense to feel comfortable on the floor because we will always find a way to switch it up on different scenarios. Distribution is our key; that our defense will dictate our offense,” Mohney said.

“These student-athletes are vying to compete. You can see it in their eyes that they are wanting to turn this program around with me. To have that first step, to buy in to the program and the culture shift, that can set the tone for the remainder of the season. It is getting them to know what it feels like to win again, that wins don’t have to come from the overall game. That small wins, like cutting down deficits, out-working teams, out-rebounding, limiting our turnovers; those are victories,” Mohney said.

“The reason why I coach is to change the lives of the student-athletes I get to coach/mentor. You get one shot at a four-year career before it is over; it is my goal to make these the most memorable years of their lives. To come together as a family and make memories, that when they look back on their time with this program, they can smile. To have fun again, and to have confidence in themselves, can take this program a long way,” Mohney said.

The key to success?

“Each day we talk about adversity and being mentally tough, that when adversity smacks us in the face we do not back down but we fight, because that fight and that growth will make us well-rounded people who are ready to take on any of life’s battles. That even if we get down, we are the first to pick each other up. That no matter what, we fight as a team. When we can do that, when we can win the battle against adversity, we can rise to the top,” Mohney said.

“Right now, we are focusing on us. If we can control what we do and let go of our uncontrollables, we will be a sound program. We have (less than) a week before we hit the floor against other opponents, so we are taking our season day by day,” the coach said. “When we can control what we can control, you will see how we can jump higher in rankings over the NEAC and compete in the preseason. We will let our journey tell our story this season.”

Men’s/women’s cross-country
Twelve Wildcats will compete Saturday in the Mideast Regional Championships at Bethlehem.

Men running will be Brandon Bowersox, of Mifflinburg; Chris Hogan, of Halifax; Dean Fulton, of Palmyra; Matt Leiby, of Danville; Jake Mashack, of Bloomsburg; Reagan McCoy, of Lock Haven; and Johan Isaacson, of Muncy.

Penn College women running will be Nikki Crow, of Elizabethtown; Brittany Weiskopff, of Blossburg; Katie Plankenhorn, of Montoursville; Cinnamon Digan, of Mifflinburg; and Megan Nosker, of DuBois.

A year ago, the Penn College men ended 32nd in a 51-team field over an 8K course.

Women’s soccer
For the fourth consecutive year, Penn College’s season ended in the NEAC playoffs at the hands of Penn State Berks as the conference’s top seed scored a 6-0 home semifinal win Saturday and the Wildcats finished 10-9-1 overall and 9-4 in all NEAC outings.

Berks led in shots 32-5 (20-4 on goal) and in corner kicks 8-0, while scoring three goals in each half.

In nine lifetime meetings between the two schools, Berks has won all nine and has not allowed a goal while scoring 43.

Hosting fifth-seeded SUNY Poly in a quarterfinal match Tuesday, Poly grabbed the early lead with a goal in the 23rd minute, but Penn College stormed back for a 4-1 win that pushed it into the semifinals for the fourth year in a row.

Scoring for fourth-seeded Penn College against Poly (in order) were Miya Roman, of Benton, on an assist from Sloane Tressler, of Mill Hall, in the 30th minute; Morgan Brooks, of Bellefonte, on an assist from Francesca Timpone, of Smithtown, New York, in the 52nd minute; Dominique Brown, of Benton, assisted by Brooks and Kaelan Cronan, of Leesport, in the 64th minute; and Ashley Donet, of Lenhartsville, assisted by Tiffany Brown, of Mechanicsburg, and Tressler in the 71st minute.

Goalkeeper Taylor Gonzales, of Lititz, had seven saves as Penn College led in shots 20-16 (11-8 on goal) and in corner kicks 5-1 while posting its eighth win in its last nine NEAC matches.

Thursday, it was announced that Penn College had landed seven players on the all-conference team. The Wildcats tied a program record set in 2017 with the seven selections, and along with Penn State Berks, had the most all-conference players in the conference.

Dominique Brown was named to the first team; Tiffany Brown, Timpone and Gonzales were named to the second team; and Abby Williams, of Mechanicsburg, Cronan and Tressler earned third team honors. Cronan was on the first team a year ago, Gonzales was on the third team the past two seasons, Timpone was on the second team in 2017, and Dominique Brown was on the third team in 2017.

“This number of all-conference selections exceeded my expectations,” second-year coach Christa Matlack said. “I’m very proud of each of them and it is great to see their hard work and contributions to this season being recognized.”

On the year, Penn College scored 43 goals and allowed 36. Dominique Brown scored 12 goals, had six assists and 30 points; Cronan had eight goals, four assists and 20 points; Tiffany Brown six goals, five assists and 17 points; and Brooks seven goals, two assists and 16 points. Gonzales allowed 35 goals and finished with 117 saves.

“This season started off a little rocky, but the team came together and worked their way into the final four. Overall, I’m proud of their effort and progress as a group,” said Matlack, whose career coaching record is 22-17-1.

During the offseason, according to Matlack, “(we) need to focus and improve on our individual commitment to our fitness and technical skills.

“Next season, hope to bring in players to help fill the shoes of those leaving us this year, but (we) return a ton of experienced players to help continue our success.”

Saturday in the Ned McGinley Invitational at King’s College, Penn College placed fifth in a 12-team field with 90.5 points. Roger Williams took the team competition with 150 points. Individually for the Wildcats, Dylan Gettys, of Etters, went 5-1 with two technical falls and finished third at 165 pounds and Jared Mooney, of Palmerton, went 4-1 with four pins to finish third at 197. Also for Penn College, Dan Bergeron, of Jackson, New Jersey, went 3-2 with two pins and placed fourth while Dave Glasso, of East Smithfield, went 2-3 with two pins and placed sixth.

Women’s soccer
Final overall: 10-9-1
Final NEAC: 9-4 (8-3 regular season)
Tuesday, Nov. 5 – host SUNY Poly (NEAC quarterfinal), W, 4-1
Saturday, Nov. 9 – at Penn State Berks (NEAC semifinal), L, 6-0
End of season

Saturday, Nov. 9 – Ned McGinley Invitational at King’s College, 5th among 12
Saturday, Nov. 16 – vs. Centenary University at Ursinus College, 11 a.m.; vs. Ursinus College, noon
Saturday, Nov. 23 – host Scranton, York College and Washington and Lee, 11 a.m.

Men’s basketball
Tuesday, Nov. 12 – at Valley Forge University, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16 – host Rosemont College, 4 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 17 – host SUNY Delhi, 1 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 21 – host Alvernia College, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 23 – at Lycoming College, 2 p.m.

Women’s basketball
Saturday, Nov. 16 – at Alvernia University Tip-Off Tournament vs. Alvernia, 1 p.m. (Adrian College vs. Brooklyn College, 3 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 17 – at Alvernia University Tip-Off Tournament, noon consolation or 2 p.m. championship
Saturday, Nov. 23 – vs. College of St. Elizabeth at Susquehanna University, 6 p.m. (York NY College vs. Susquehanna, 8 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 24 – at Susquehanna University, 1 p.m. consolation or 3 p.m. championship

Men’s cross-country
Saturday, Nov. 16 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at Bethlehem, TBA
End of season

Women’s cross-country
Saturday, Nov. 16 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at Bethlehem, TBA
End of season

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 13

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