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Wildcat Women Return Veteran Basketball Team

There is good news and bad news for the Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s basketball team this season. The good news: a veteran squad returns. The bad news: with just eight players, they won’t get many breaks.

Projected starters when the Wildcats open their season at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lycoming College are senior Jamie Steer, 5-foot, 11-inch, forward from South Williamsport; junior Alicia Ross, 5-8, guard, of Williamsport; senior Danielle Mowery, 5-7, guard, of Shamokin; sophomore Hannah Schoenly, 5-8, forward, of Hamburg; and freshman Ebani Lewis, 5-9, forward, of Sunbury.

Ross led last year’s team in scoring with 438 points (17.5 average) and Steer was close behind with 416 points (16.6 average). Steer also averaged 7.9 rebounds per game and she enters her senior season with 1,064 career points, 182 points shy of the Penn College career scoring record held by her older sister, Kierstin, who graduated in 2013. Last season, both Jamie Steer and Ross were awarded United States Collegiate Athletic Association Second Team All-America honors.

“We have a veteran squad with only one new starter. We are always looking to improve our defense, turnovers and rebounding,” said coach Matt Wilt, whose teams in five seasons have gone 43-79, including 13-12 a year ago. Last season, the Wildcats averaged 71 points a game on both offense and defense.

“Our strength is we have more than one or two players who can score,” the coach continued. “Obviously, our bench numbers are a big concern, and rebounding because we lost the league’s leading rebounder from last year.”

Wilt said the keys to success will be, “if we can rebound, stay injury-free and our bench players have to give us quality minutes. Hopefully, after the (semester) break, we get two or three more quality players to join the team.”

A year ago, Penn College posted a 12-8 record in the North Eastern Athletic Conference and Wilt is optimistic, but realistic, about his team’s chances this year.

“We expect to compete for the title. We now know from last year, with the little bit of success we had, that we can compete in this league, but that being said, teams that look at Penn College on the schedule will no longer count that as an automatic win, they will be more prepared to play us this year.

“We feel we were good enough to be in the playoffs, but, as per league rules , we lost head-to-head to two teams that did not have a better record but made it instead of us … we just can’t let that happen again.

“Also, this team has four seniors who know this is their last year … so we have plenty of motivation,” Wilt said.

In a preseason poll of the conference’s 14 coaches, Penn College was picked eighth behind Lancaster Bible College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Penn State Abington, Morrisville State College, Gallaudet University, Keuka College and St. Elizabeth College, and ahead of Wells College, Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, Penn State Berks, SUNY Cobleskill and Wilson College. The Wildcats compete in the South Division with Bryn Athyn, Gallaudet, Lancaster Bible, Abington, Berks, St. Elizabeth and Wilson.

Coming off the bench for the Wildcats will be senior Niesha Williams, 5-8, forward, of Loyalsock Township; junior Chelsea Burger, 5-7, guard, of Millersburg; and freshman Marissa Keegan, 5-8, forward, of Wilkes-Barre.

“Keegan, a point guard, will have to give us minutes to give Ross some much-needed breaks,” Wilt said. “Williams will play at three positions and must give us minutes — not so much scoring, but defense and rebounding. And Burger the same as Williams.”

In 15 games dating to 1978, which includes nine games from 1978-83 against Penn College forerunner Williamsport Area Community College, Lycoming holds a 14-1 lead. The only Warriors loss came in 1978, 54-49, at WACC. The closest Penn College has come this century to beating Lycoming was in 2006 when it lost, 70-64.

In addition to Lycoming, the Wildcats’ only other nonconference game will be their home opener on Dec. 3 with Elmira College at Bardo Gymnasium along West Third Street.

Men’s Basketball
In their nonconference season opener Friday at Penn State Scranton, Penn College led by five points at halftime before being outscored by 16 in the second half and losing, 83-72. Kevin Laurence-El, of Milton, led four Wildcats scoring in double digits with 15 while Chris Johnson, of Lorton, Virginia, scored 14, and Tom Ross, of Williamsport, and Joe Mangiero, of Staten Island, New York, each added 12. Penn State Scranton dominated the boards with a 57-26 rebounding advantage.

The team’s home opener will be at 6 p.m. Friday against Cairn University at Bardo Gym.

In a preseason poll of the North Eastern Athletic Conference coaches, Penn College was picked No. 12 of 13. Gallaudet University topped the poll followed by Lancaster Bible College, Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Cazenovia College, Penn State Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, Penn State Abington, Wells College, Bryn Athyn College, Keuka College, Penn College and Wilson College. The Wildcats play in the South Division with Bryn Athyn, Gallaudet, Lancaster Bible, Abington, Berks and Wilson.

Wrestling
Men’s Basketball
Overall record: 0-1
Friday, Nov. 13 – at Penn State Scranton, L, 83-72
Tuesday, Nov. 17 – at Shenandoah University, 8 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 20 – host Cairn University, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 2 – host Alfred State, 6 p.m.

Women’s Basketball
Saturday, Nov. 21 – at Lycoming College, 1 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 3 – host Elmira College, 6 p.m.

Wrestling
Overall record: 1-1
Tuesday, Nov. 17 – host Alfred State, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 3 – at King’s College, 7 p.m.

No. 13