In some ways, the Penn State York women’s basketball team has the right to feel disappointed of late.
After beginning the season with a pair of non-conference victories, the local Lions appeared to be gearing up for a strong season.
Fortunes, however, quickly changed for coach Terri Van Slyke’s crew after they routed Trinity Washington before the Thanksgiving break. Since then, the Lions dropped the first two games of their Penn State University Athletic Conference schedule to fall back to .500.
Van Slyke’s club was looking to right the ship Tuesday evening when it hosted Penn State Brandywine in another PSUAC clash.
While there were flashes of excellence, there were an equal number of pitfalls against Brandywine. PSY rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to pull within two midway through the final period. But missed shots and untimely turnovers ended York’s comeback attempt in a 60-54 loss.
The news was better in the second game of the night for PSY. The York men stormed back for an 81-77 triumph over Brandywine.
“This was just one of those games,” Van Slyke said of the women's game. “We just had to dig ourselves out of a hole. We came out flat. And, unfortunately, we’ve been in a real shooting slump to start the season. We’ve been unable to put down some shots and that’s just kind of killed us of late.”
York was only able to convert on 2 of 18 attempts from beyond the arc. In total, the home team was only able to connect on 27.8 percent (20 of 72) of its shot attempts.
While those numbers are not especially pretty, there were a couple of bright spots for Van Slyke. Junior Emily Colon, who played for perennial powerhouse Lancaster Catholic in high school, led York with 17 points, while the junior also pulled down 10 rebounds. Former York Catholic grad Katie McNamara had a nice game as well. The senior also tallied a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite the bittersweet taste of late, Van Slyke is hopeful that her team uses the close losses to learn and grow as the season kicks into the meat of the schedule.
“Yeah, you live and you learn from these kinds of games,” she said. “And that’s what makes you better as you go on in the season.”
State of the program is improved: While the Lions have been sputtering of late, the state of the program couldn’t be in much better shape. It was just two years ago when the team canceled the second half of its schedule because of a roster shortage under former coach Bob Heiser.
Van Slyke picked up the pieces last year to put together a team that was forced to play its entire schedule on the road, even its "home games." Many games were played in Lancaster at the Spooky Nook facility, with a few hosted at York College.
Despite the challenges of such a trying season, the PSY women’s program seems to be on its best footing in years. The roster boasts 10 players, seven of which hail from York-Adams schools. With the gym renovations inside the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Community Center now complete, the Lions are finally able to play home games on campus for the first time in nearly two years.
“This is so much better,” Van Slyke said. “It was such a challenge trying to coordinate different class schedules and trying to find a place to practice at off campus. It’s great to be back on campus in this beautiful facility.”
While Van Slyke and her team were not happy with the way Tuesday’s contest turned out, they are able to see the bright side of things. The days of canceling the season at its mid-point are now hopefully long gone.
“We’re lucky to have some transfers come in,” Van Slyke said. “We have some upperclassmen and experience. And this (facility) makes it a lot easier to recruit, absolutely.”
PSY men rally: Brandywine appeared ready to make it a clean sweep in the second game of the women’s/men’s doubleheader Tuesday.
But the local Lions would not be denied. The PSY men rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half en route to a thrilling victory.
Coach Parrish Petry’s team used a 25-6 run midway through the second half to take the lead with just more than six minutes remaining. After Brandywine regained the lead momentarily, senior Lucas Jewell knocked down a jumper to put the local Lions ahead again.
From that point on, the visitors could only draw even once more before Petry’s team salted away a satisfying triumph.
Former Red Lion standout Trent Thomas led York with 22 points. Jewell nearly finished with a triple-double after scoring 17 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists. Former Susquehannock grad Richard Grant chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds
The PSY men improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the PSUAC. Brandywine fell to 1-6 and 0-3.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.