Penn College women begin hoops play Saturday

Despite fielding a team that is relatively young – nine of 13 players are new to the program – Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s basketball coach Lauren Healy believes that player depth and athleticism will result in good things this season.

The Wildcats open at 8 p.m. Saturday against Susquehanna University at the Susquehanna Trailways Tipoff Tournament. Also competing are Nazareth College and Westminster College. Penn College’s 16-game North Eastern Athletic Conference schedule begins Nov. 28.

“I am confident that this year will be the start of something great for the women’s basketball program here at Penn College. We have been fighting for our lives the last two years and I think we are ready to start paving the way for a successful future for women’s basketball,” said Healy, whose first two teams were 5-44 overall (4-32 NEAC).

The team’s key returning players are 5-foot-8-inch sophomore guard Tori Wolfe, of Dalmatia; 5-9 sophomore forward Cassi Kuhns, of Loyalsock Township; and 5-2 senior guard Gwen Lavelle, of Pocono Summit. Wolfe led the team in scoring last year with 281 points while Kuhns was third in scoring with 202 points.

Among the freshmen expected to contribute immediately are 5-6 guard Madison Klock, of Elysburg; 5-9 forward Maci Ilgen, of Spring Mills; and 5-3 guard Kaylah Brown, of Suffolk, Virginia.

“I am looking forward to a competitive year. The roster number for the team is at an all-time high with a deep bench. We have been building this program since 2016 and I believe that this will be a breakout year for us and will continue to challenge all the teams we face,” Healy said.

“We have made a tremendous amount of progress in three weeks of practice already and that is a testament to our roster size. We just want to continue to challenge them and for them to continue to get better every day within our system of play,” the coach continued.

“We have several strengths this year; we are a lot faster and more athletic than our previous teams. We have a deep bench, which will allow our girls to go harder during possessions and get adequate breaks when needed. Another great thing I am seeing is that we have a lot of team chemistry, which I believe is the beating heart of a successful team, so it has been great working with this year’s team,” Healy said.

“The first couple of weeks of practice was challenging for our new players, because a lot of them were trying to get used to a new system of play, the tempo/pace of the game, and the 30-second shot clock. All of those things are getting better every day and they are adapting very well to the changes. Also, just continuing to work on our skill sets every day in practice,” said Healy, who is assisted by Travis Heap.

“Team chemistry, leadership, and strength of our roster size are the keys to our team’s success this season. … Our upperclassmen are really stepping into their role as leaders to encourage and support every member of the team. Lastly, the roster numbers alone have made us stronger, have competitive practices that will allow us to be prepared for games,” Healy said.

In a midweek release of the NEAC coaches’ preseason poll, Penn College was picked to finish last among 12 teams. Keuka College led the poll with 120 points, followed by SUNY Poly and Lancaster Bible College with 101 points each (Poly was awarded second thanks to two first-place votes), Morrisville State College was fourth with 89, Penn State Abington fifth with 83, Gallaudet University sixth with 74, Penn State Berks seventh with 52, SUNY Cobleskill eighth with 51, Wells College ninth with 38, College of St. Elizabeth 10th with 37, Cazenovia College 11thwith 32 and Penn College 12th with 14 points.

FLASHBACK
Cross-country
Going into Saturday’s NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at DeSales University in Center Valley, Wildcats coach Nick Patton was hopeful of improvement over last year when the men’s team finished 34th in a 50-team field. And he got it as Penn College moved up one notch, ending 33rd in a 52-team field over an 8K course with a total time of 2:28.54. Carnegie Mellon took the men’s title with a total time of 2:12.08.

“I thought it was a really good effort. I was happy with it,” Patton said. “It’s always great to progress and move forward and that’s what we did this year.

“The course conditions were pretty terrible. It was really muddy, the worst we’ve probably seen all year, but all things considered, I thought we ran to our potential for the day.”

Individually for the Penn College men, Josh Velez, of Lewistown, finished 99th in 28:11 while Thomas Runner, of Elk Ridge, Maryland, was 119th in 28:31.9; Matt Leiby, of Danville, was 233rd in 30:24.9; Jonah Isaacson, of Muncy, was 237th in 30:30.7; Ben Ericksen, of Norwich, New York, was 267th in 31:16.6; Chris Hogan, of Halifax, was 274th in 31:37; and Alex Giffin, of Chambersburg, was 288th in 31:54.5. Harley Moyer, of Washington & Jefferson, placed first in 25:55 in a field of 357.

Although Penn College didn’t have enough runners to field a women’s team, Sidney Trunzo, of Williamsport, placed 115th in 25:31.6 over a 6K course while Rosey Thomas, of Port Allegany, was 190th in 26:47; Katie Plankenhorn, of Montoursville, was 251st in 28:26.6; and Brittany Weiskopff, of Blossburg, was 299th in 30:36.2. Felicia Koerner, of team-champ Johns Hopkins, topped the 341-runner field in 22:31.5.

“I thought, given the conditions and the competition, that’s a high note to end on for those two (Velez and Trunzo). They battled all day and it was overall a great finish for them,” the fourth-year coach said.

Men’s basketball
In its nonconference season opener at Alvernia University on Saturday, Penn College lost, 79-58. After trailing 44-27 at the half, the Wildcats rallied in the second half to close within six, but it wasn’t enough in Geoff Hensely’s debut as coach. Ben Sosa, of Loyalsock Township, topped Penn College scorers with 13 points while Ryan Lockman, of White Salmon, Washington, led the team with 10 rebounds. Lockman and Obens Luxama, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, each added eight points.

On Tuesday, a preseason poll of NEAC coaches showed Penn College last in a 12-team field. Morrisville State College topped the poll with 119 points, followed by SUNY Poly 108, Lancaster Bible College 100, Penn State Abington 86, Keuka College 74, Wells College 60, Cazenovia College 57, Gallaudet University and SUNY Cobleskill 50 each, College of St. Elizabeth 47, Penn State Berks 25 and Penn College 16.

Wrestling
Competing on Saturday at the Gettysburg College Invitational, Penn College had one champ, two seconds, a third and a fourth among the individuals and placed fourth in a six-team field with 67.5 points. Host Gettysburg took the team crown with 114 points. Wildcat Jared Mooney, of Palmerton, went 3-0 and claimed the 197-pound championship. Taking seconds were Dylan Otis, of Wyalusing, at 285 (2-1 record), and Dan Bergeron, of Jackson, New Jersey, at 165 (2-1 record); placing third was Dylan Gettys, of Etters, at 174 (5-1 record); and placing fourth was Jon Pineda, of Easton, at 285 (2-2 record). Although he didn’t finish among the top four in the 133 weight, Christian Fox, of Palmerton, had three pins on the day.

SCHEDULE/RECORDS/RESULTS
Men’s basketball
Overall: 0-1
Saturday, Nov. 10 – at Alvernia University, L, 79-58
Tuesday, Nov. 13 – at Elmira College, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 16 – at Montclair State, N.J., 5 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 17 – at Montclair State Tip-Off Tournament, TBA
Monday, Nov. 26 – host Lycoming College, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 28 – at College of St. Elizabeth (NEAC), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 1 – at Penn State Abington (NEAC), 3 p.m.

Women’s basketball
Overall: 0-0
Saturday, Nov. 17 – vs. Susquehanna University at Susquehanna Trailways Tipoff Tournament, 8 p.m. (Nazareth College vs. Westminster College, 6 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 18 – vs. either Nazareth College or Westminster College in Susquehanna Trailways Tipoff Tournament at Susquehanna University, TBA 1 or 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 20 – host Lycoming College, 5 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 26 – at Wilson College, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 28 – at College of St. Elizabeth (NEAC), 6 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 1 – at Penn State Abington (NEAC), 1 p.m.

Wrestling
Overall: 0-1
Saturday, Nov. 10 – at Gettysburg College Invitational, finished fourth in a six-team field
Saturday, Nov. 17 – Southeast Duals at Ferrum, Va.
Friday, Nov. 30 – at Messiah College Petrofes Invitational, noon
Saturday, Dec. 1 – at Messiah College Petrofes Invitational, 9 a.m.

Men’s cross-country
Saturday, Nov. 10 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at DeSales University, Center Valley, finished 33rd in a 52-team field, Josh Velez finished 99th

Women’s cross-country
Saturday, Nov. 10 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at DeSales University, Center Valley, Sidney Trunzo finished 115th

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 14

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