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Wildcats Set Record En Route to Men’s Basketball Playoffs

The Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s basketball team set a modern school record by winning its 14th game Sunday, but there was little time for celebrating.

Coach Gene Bruno immediately began focusing on his team’s next task at hand, hosting Stevens State in a first round game of the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference playoffs. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bardo Gym.

The contest will be the second between the two teams in just five days, as the Wildcats lost to Stevens 87-82 on Saturday. This time, however, Penn College (14-10) will have to face Stevens with a distinct disadvantage: Point guard Brian Schneider, the team’s leading scorer and assist man, was ejected from Sunday’s game and is ineligible to play.

“It hurts. We’ve got our hands full. They’re a very aggressive team. . . . As soon as Stevens finds out he’s gone, it’s going to be double pressure,” Bruno said. Schneider, a 5-foot-11 sophomore from Hatboro-Horsham, was averaging 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds a game, in addition to directing the team’s offense and defense.

“He’s definitely the nucleus. You work to get to this spot and then you lose a kid like that,” Bruno continued. “My philosophy right now is, ‘Brian who?’ When a kid’s out, everybody else has to step up. It’s unfortunate (Schneider’s loss), but this is also about learning and hopefully he’ll learn.”

A win over Stevens on Wednesday would boost the Wildcats into the EPCC Final Four, one of the goals set earlier in the season by backup point guard Gabe Harry (sophomore, Dunwoody High), who must now help fill the void created by Schneider’s loss.

“Basically, Gabe has been a big part of pulling this team together. It was his idea to come up with the goals and Gabe wants to get to that Final Four with all of us,” Bruno said. “He’s been out injured and is just coming back, so, in a way, it’s a nice thing for him. I’m looking at it as a positive thing and my kids can step up and win this game. If we win that, we get Schneider back for Philly.”

In other first-round games, the Community College of Philadelphia hosts Central Penn, Manor College hosts Lehigh-Carbon, and Northampton hosts Reading Community College. Winners advance to the next round Friday and Saturday at Philadelphia.

Through 24 games, the Wildcats are scoring an average of 78 points a game and allowing 75. Brent Rippey, a freshman from Central Mountain High, is scoring just under 15 points a game, while Ryan Ritt, a sophomore from Tullahoma, Tenn., is averaging 11 points a game, and Pete Pecora, a freshman from Lewistown, nine points a game.

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