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Not a normal year for Penn State York

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
505-5403/@yaiaascores

There have not been a lot of "normal" things about the Penn State York women's basketball team over the past year.

From an early end of the season a year ago, to a new head coach, to the reality of playing and practicing away from campus, no one would blame the Lions for being dysfunctional.

Terri Van Slyke, who returns as the head coach after spending the past two seasons as an assistant coach, is hoping that her squad found something Wednesday night that can make things more normal. Van Slyke's club rebounded from a tough loss over the weekend to Harrisburg Area Community College when they "hosted" local rival Central Penn College.

Playing a "home" game at York College's Grumbacher Center, Katie McNamara poured in a team-high 16 points to help her team to its first victory of the season, 53-50. In the second game of the doubleheader, the PSY men also won over Central Penn, 100-87.

"This was really huge," Van Slyke said. "We played them in the first semester and we played HACC on Saturday, and they were both close games for us. We weren't quite able to pull out wins in those two, but this one was huge just for our confidence."

Van Slyke has faced a difficult task since reclaiming the head coaching position after Bob Heiser stepped down in April. Not only did her role change with the program, but she also has had to deal with the ramifications of the team's home facility being closed for renovations.

Throw in the fact that the team was forced to cancel the second part of its season a year ago because of a player shortage, and Van Slyke certainly had her work cut out for her.

"There have been a lot of challenges," she said. "But the one that is the most frustrating is just not having a regular facility. We've done OK with it for a semester, but it does get a bit stressful having to leave campus. The girls are coming straight from class to practice and sometimes they're a little late."

The Lions are forced to practice and play games at numerous locations. They've practiced at Heritage Hills and York Academy while playing games at Spooky Nook in Lancaster as well as at York College. Not being able to get comfortable in one place has only made things tougher.

"They're nice facilities, but we're not used to the rims or the baskets," Van Slyke said. "That's been frustrating, but then rebuilding completely on top of that is a little challenging."

Only one player (McNamara) returned from last year's squad, leaving Van Slyke in a position to field nearly a whole new roster of eight players.

"We were really trying to find players that really fit what we were looking for," Van Slyke said. "But I think that the players that have come in have helped us and have done a really good job."

McNamara, who played at York Catholic High School, has been a steady force. The junior not only led the team in scoring, but also picked up a game-high five steals. A couple of other juniors, Courtney Weibley (Northeastern) and Bradania Harrington (Red Lion), each chipped in 13 points in the victory.

"It's awesome that they're all getting this chance to play college basketball," Van Slyke said. "And I think they're all beginning to find that out, too. They love to play and they're looking for that opportunity. So this is a good fit for them."

A short schedule in the early going leaves the Lions (1-5 overall, 0-3 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference) with a busy schedule coming up. They will complete their 14-game conference schedule with 11 contests from now until the regular season finale on Feb. 13.

Men's game: While the three-time reigning PSUAC champion Penn State York men's basketball team didn't get off to a strong start to this season, the team appears to have figured things out as of late.

Starting with a squad that includes 10 new faces, PSY men's coach Parrish Petry knew the early season would be a challenge. And it was. But after dropping the first six contests of the season, the local Lions look to be headed in the right direction after winning for the fifth time in their past six outings Wednesday evening.

"It's been crazy," Petry said. "In our situation, we have really 10 new guys that we're trying to figure out where they fit in. Any time your roster flips over like ours did, you're going to have some growing pains."

Central Penn was one of the teams that helped get York off to a slow start, downing the Lions 79-77 on a last-second shot back in early November. Petry's players, however, are playing at an entirely different level now, even if they aren't able to get a normal practice schedule in place.

Wednesday against the Knights, they showed some character by taking the lead early in the second half and never giving it up. That's something that they didn't do in the first meeting.

"This is our last non-conference game," Petry said. "And this is the type of team (Central Penn) that we're going to see in conference ... athletic but maybe not as disciplined as you'd want your team to be. And the team that shows the most discipline makes it happen."

York Suburban grad Evan Eberhardinger led the Lions with 21 points off the bench. Derrick Hoffman chipped in 19, while Trent Thomas (16), Mike Coleman (14), Lucas Jewell (10) and Billy Vaughn-Geib (10) all hit double figures.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.