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Penn College Basketball Teams Opening

Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s and women’s basketball teams are set to step into action this week while the wrestling team got its season underway Saturday and the cross-country team’s season ended.

Men’s Basketball
With 10 freshmen on a 15-player roster, and the other five players seeing only limited action during a 4-21 season a year ago, second-year coach Chris Lemasters knows he has his work cut out as the Wildcats prepare for their 6 p.m. Friday opener against host Lycoming College in the Dutch Burch Tip-Off Tournament.

Returning are juniors James Boylan, of Newton, N.J.; and Patrick Irick, of Schwenksville; and sophomores Dwight Alexander, of Umatilla, Fla.; Nate Brown, of Philadelphia; and Roberto Falk, of Williamsport. Brown, Falk and Irick are guards and Boylan and Alexander inside players. Irick and Brown have been chosen co-captains and Lemasters is counting on them for leadership and keeping the team focused on improving daily.

“(They) will be required to step up immediately for us to succeed,” the coach said of the five. “Dwight provides great strength, defense and athleticism at the small forward position and Roberto will be counted on for his solid outside shooting. We are hoping Boylan takes the biggest step forward as we graduated a lot of size last year and he is our lone returning interior player. He came into preseason in great shape and is improving every single day.”

“You will hear me say it time and again throughout the year, but we are a process-based team right now. This year was my first recruiting class with the program and we brought in some stellar recruits, but our biggest focus is on improving every single day of practice and learning from every single game,” Lemasters continued. “I think we will surprise a few people this year, but we will be incredibly young. … We have a special crew of 15 guys that come to learn with their eyes and ears every day and, as long as we continue doing that throughout the fall and into spring (semester), I really like the outlook of our team going forward.”

While Lemasters has not set his starting five, he is quick to say that “our greatest strength as a team will be our depth and having 15 guys that can contribute meaningful minutes to the program.”

“In our initial scrimmage, we had 12 guys suited up for the game (others had class) and 11 scored. The one additional player that didn’t score added three or four assists during his time on the floor, so, although we are starting to whittle down our proposed lineup, some of it will change based on our matchups throughout the year,” the coach said.

Among the additions are Ezra Adams, of Muncy; Thomas Ross, of Williamsport; Marquis Delgado, of Mansfield; Vince Mauck, of Beech Creek; Bob Beckett III, of Belfast, N.Y.; Antony Griffin-Betterson, of Philadelphia; Chris Johnson, of Lorton, Va.; Bryce Lonsway, of Tiffin, Ohio; Nafice Spence, of Cheltenham; and Laquinn Thompson, of York.

“We are extremely young … as a result, it’s all about creating the identity we as coaches want, but also finding the identity that best fits our program. I loaded up the schedule in the beginning with games against extremely strong programs including Division II, Division III and the reigning United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division I national champion (Michigan’s Rochester College). My hope is these initial challenging games will set the tone for our players when they get into the regular season,” Lemasters said.

“I think we have a chance to change people’s perceptions over the course of the year. The first month of the season is going to be an extreme adjustment for these guys, but I really think we can make some noise in the second half of the year. We front-loaded the schedule in the hopes we will be ready to play those top-tier PSUAC (Penn State University Athletic Conference) teams throughout the year. Our goal every year is to make the playoffs and play every team as hard as we possibly can for every minute we are on the floor,” he continued.

“I’d love for our team to make the USCAA playoffs, but we first have to focus on being successful in the PSUAC and specifically in our division of the PSUAC. I think it would be a huge step for us this year if we were one of the top two teams in our section of the conference, because the other three teams bring a ton of talent back,” the coach said.

Play of the guards will be crucial to the team’s success.

“We brought some excellent guards into the program this year and they are all playing well together. Although we will be small out front, I’ve really appreciated the guards’ willingness to not get locked into a position, but rather work together for the benefit of the team. I think as we progress throughout the year we are going to be able to pressure teams with our quickness both offensively and defensively,” the coach said, adding, “We are still learning to control our quickness/speed. We want to play fast, put incredible pressure on the other team every second we are on the floor, but we also need to constantly search out great shots rather than settling for a good shot.”

Lemasters said the key to success will be “growing as a team every single day and believing in each other.”

“We can’t focus on individual stats and accolades, but rather on the idea of ‘next man up.’ Nate Brown may give us 25 points one night and simply not have it the next, so he (or whoever it might be) needs to understand and appreciate that someone else might be the leading scorer that evening. We also need each player to commit to going all out for the minutes they are on the floor. We have depth, so our focus is for each guy to give us the best 3- or 4-minute stretch he can and then we will bring in the next group.

“We also need to keep players academically eligible for us to be truly successful. I know when I first took over the program in the spring of 2012 that four out of the top eight guys in the fall were going to be academically ineligible for the spring. We’ve implemented study halls this year and connected the players with academic support services on campus, but our success hinges as much on academic success as improvement on the court,” the coach stressed.

Assistant coaches again this season are former Wildcats Tom Little and Joe Simon.

“After a full year together, we came in during the preseason and everyone immediately knew their roles. It’s great to have two guys on the staff that were so successful during their time with the program and can relay to the guys what it takes to have that type of success again,” Lemasters said.

The tournament’s other opening-night game features John Jay vs. Penn State  Brandywine at 8 p.m. Action concludes Saturday with games at 1 and 3:30 p.m. at Lamade Gymnasium.

Women’s Basketball
Junior forward Jenna Matzinger, of Coudersport and sophomore point guard Danielle Mowery, of Shamokin, are the key returning players from a year ago when the Lady Wildcats finished 12-13 overall and reached the PSUAC playoffs for the first time in three seasons under coach Matt Wilt. Penn College opens its season at 4 p.m. Saturday against Briarcliff College in the Albany, N.Y., College of Pharmacy.

Also expected to contribute are junior forward Niesha Williams, of Loyalsock Township; junior guard Alison Van Metter, of Saylorsburg; and freshman guard Chelsea Burger, of Millersburg.

Wilt describes his team as young and says it just needs to “keep getting better every day.”

Also on the roster are sophomore forward Nicole Reyes-Molina, of Lancaster; and freshman guard Samantha Hill, of Montgomery; forward Addie Jordan, of Muncy Valley; forward Miranda Speece, of Lewisburg; and center Katelyn Wertz, of Bernville.

“Everyone can play any position on the floor (and is) pretty athletic,” he said, adding that improvement is needed in defense and rebounding.

Finding offensive replacements for South Williamsport sisters Kierstin and Jamie Steer also will be a tall order. Kierstin graduated with a Penn College-record 1,246 career points and Jamie led the team last season with 452 points. Matzinger was third in scoring a year ago with 277 points.

“It’s going to have to be a team effort to replace the scoring that Kierstin and Jamie did. Mowery is going to have to do more scoring than last year,” Wilt said.

The keys, Wilt said he is telling his players, are, “Play as a team and do the things the coaches want them to do – try not to do too much on your own.

“It is a work in progress. We are a young team but we try to improve on our record each year, I never say we are rebuilding because I believe that is just an excuse if you don’t do well. We are here to win and win now.”

Assisting Wilt is Darrin Bischof, who is handling the offense.

Also in the tournament are the host and the University of Maine Augusta.

Men’s Cross-Country
Competing in the USCAA Championships at Syracuse, N.Y., on Friday, Wildcat junior Dan Flynn, of Blairstown, N.J., ran a 34:09 to place 117th. Penn College finished 18th among 19 teams over the 8K course.

“I’m happy with how we performed,” first-year coach David Mendez said afterward. “The course was really muddy and there were several runners who fell. Our guys ran a tough race.”

Also for Penn College, freshman Nathan Mashack, of Bloomsburg, was 125th in 34:32; freshman Tyler Pecora, of Drums, was 146th in 36:08; senior Ed Knyff, of Ocean Gate, N.J., was 160th in 37:39; and freshman Will Cox, of Ebensburg, was 176th in 43:17.

Host SUNY College of Earth, Science & Forestry won the men’s season-ending event for the third consecutive year.

Wrestling
After going 0-4 at the University of Scranton Electric City Duals on Saturday, Penn College coach Schuyler Frey may not have gotten the team results he was looking for, but he got the tough competition he sought for his wrestlers. In pool matches, the Wildcats lost to Scranton, 28-14; the Apprentice School, 36-12; and Wilkes University, 24-12, before falling to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, 43-11. Scoring at least two wins for Penn College were Dalton Deimler, of Middletown, at 125 and 133 pounds; Troy Leid, of Terre Hill, at 157; Randall Janowitz, of Westminster, Md., at 141; Dan Frankenfield, of Dushore, at 184 and 174; and Patrick Fitzgerald, of Port Royal, at 285 and 235. Eight teams competed with the Apprentice School finishing first with a 6-0 mark and Wilkes second at 4-1.

SCHEDULE/RECORDS
Men’s Cross-Country
Friday, Nov. 8 – USCAA Championships at Syracuse, N.Y. Penn College finished 18 th in team competition.

Men’s Basketball
Friday, Nov. 15 – vs. Lycoming College at Dutch Burch Tip-Off Tournament, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16 – at Dutch Burch Tip-Off Tournament, TBA
Monday, Nov. 18 – at Mansfield University, 7:30 p.m.

Women’s Basketball
Saturday, Nov. 16 – vs. Briarcliffe College at Albany College of Pharmacy Tournament, 4 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 17 – at Albany College of Pharmacy Tournament, TBA
Tuesday, Nov. 19 – host Arcadia University, 7 p.m.

Wrestling
Overall record: 0-4
Saturday, Nov. 9 – at Scranton Duals vs. Scranton, L, 28-14; vs. Apprentice School, L, 36-12; vs. Wilkes University, L, 24-12; vs. University of Maryland Baltimore County, L, 43-11
Tuesday, Nov. 12 – at Penn State  DuBois, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16 – host Muhlenberg College, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1 – at Lock Haven University Mat Town Open, 9 a.m.

No. 13

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