Penn College basketball teams set to return to court

A monthlong semester break comes to an end Wednesday for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Pennsylvania College of Technology when they host Penn State DuBois at Bardo Gymnasium. The women’s game starts at 6 p.m. and the men’s contest begins at 8.Men

Through its first 10 games, the Penn College men’s team went 5-5 overall and 3-1 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. The Wildcats averaged 73.9 points per game on offense and allowed 78.5. Leroy Joiner (Williamsport) is the team’s leading scorer with a 15.3 point average. Other leaders are Craig Flint (Port Allegany) at 13.4, Greg Solyak (Lancaster) 11.9, Joe Simon (Renovo) 9.5 and Tom Little (Beacon Falls, Conn.) 7.7.

Reflecting on the first semester, coach Gene Bruno said, “I thought we did real well the first half. Being that seven of the 10 games were on the road and we were .500, I’m pretty happy where I am at this point.”

Penn College has 15 regular season games scheduled this semester, but will play them without Neil Baskerville, a 6-foot, 6-inch inside force from East Stroudsburg who averaged just under 10 points per game, but left the squad.

“It hurts. He (Baskerville) averaged four blocked shots per game, six rebounds. It’s a big void. We’re going to have to make it up somehow. How? I don’t know yet,” Bruno said.

Looking ahead, Bruno noted, “We’ve got a tough road ahead of us. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

“The first half (of the season), we shot high 40s to 50 percent. The coaching point I made was to attack the basket more than bombing the 3s. We have to keep attacking the basket. The bottom line is I need more guys (scoring) in double figures every game.

“We need to keep our transition game going. Defensively, we’ve got to get some stops and steals.”

The Wildcats compete in the PSUAC North Division with Penn State Schuylkill, PS Hazleton, PS Scranton and PS Wilkes-Barre, and Bruno believes if his team can win the division it will reach the conference Final Four.

In a pre-season poll of conference men’s basketball coaches, Simon and Flint were named to the All-Conference team, while Solyak and Little received Honorable Mention. Wildcats basketball players tabbed by coaches for the pre-season All-Freshmen team were Mike Knepp (Swiftwater) and Baskerville. Joiner was an All-Freshman Honorable Mention pick.

Women

After 11 games, the lady Wildcats are 6-5 overall and 3-1 in the conference. They are scoring an average of 68.7 points per game and allowing 61.1. Chelsey Holmes (Hughesville) tops the team in scoring with a 13.6 average, while Erica Logan (Montoursville) is averaging 13.3 points, Kelsey Mack (Douglasville) 11.1 and April Gallagher (Avis) 9.3.

“We played a lot tougher competition, with the addition of Mansfield, Lock Haven and Lycoming, but we took those games as a learning experience. The girls did a lot of good things in those games. We hope those games help make us better for this semester,” coach Alison Tagliaferri said.

When the team returns to the court it will include a new addition — Jessica Strasser of Hawley — who was a starter last year and averaged 6.4 points per game. Seniors Amanda Ault (Milan) and Erin Mahoney (Linesville) are no longer on the team.

“Jess brings a lot to the lineup. She is an experienced post player. She brings a lot of rebounding ability and she brings a lot of scoring ability when she has the right mind-set. Hopefully she can be a leader on the floor,” Tagliaferri said.

The second-year Wildcats coach is highly optimistic about the rest of the season.

“One of the reasons that we added those better teams is that we are trying to change the face of the program. I see no reason why we can’t go undefeated (in the conference) the second semester and hopefully win our league and to on to regionals and nationals,” Tagliaferri said.

“We play Division III Elmira (N.Y.), but I believe that we can compete with every team in our league and I believe when we play up to our potential we are the best team in the league. The girls have been working hard since coming back and I think they are ready to go.”

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