After getting comfortable with the bright, new atmosphere at the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center Gymnasium at Penn State York last season, the PSY men’s and women’s basketball teams are hoping to adorn the shiny facility with some new championship banners, too.
Before that can happen, however, both squads will have to find out who they are.
The process for that started Tuesday, Nov. 7, when both clubs kicked off their 2017-18 campaigns at home against Central Penn.
For the women’s team, it was a big success. Coach Terri Van Slyke’s crew scored an impressive 66-35 triumph.
For the men it was a different story, with Central Penn claiming an 84-56 triumph.
Men’s team: Despite the early loss to a Central Penn team that qualified for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) national tournament a season ago, PSY men’s coach Parrish Petry is eager to find out what he has.
He definitely knows, however, that his team won't have to be rebuilt from scratch.
“We don’t really rebuild,” Petry said. “We reload, which you can see, because we’ve won some piece of a championship nine out of the last 10 years.”
Petry’s club won the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) regular-season title last year, only to fall short in the championship contest against Greater Allegheny. Despite that loss, the Lions moved on to the USCAA Division II national title game, where they fell to Berkeley College in overtime.
Last year’s successes, however, won’t necessarily translate to this season. A half-dozen key contributors from that squad have moved on, including leading scorer Trent Thomas. Thomas is now at Penn State Harrisburg, an NCAA Division III program that competes on the same level as York College.
“Trent is a junior, but he went to Harrisburg because he wants to be a teacher,” Petry said. “And we don’t offer a teaching program here in York. And that was the case with most of our guys. Calvin Luckenbaugh moved up to main campus after two years because he’s an engineering student. And that’s not unusual. But most of the guys that we do recruit are four-year guys.”
Several local products fit that bill. Christian Buser, who is the team’s only senior, is an Eastern York grad. Richard Grant and Derrick Hoffman, who are both juniors, played at Susquehannock and Northeastern, respectively, in high school. Jonny Sutton, a sophomore from Dallastown, figures to have more of an impact as well.
Petry, who was named the PSUAC Coach of the Year last season, mentioned Grant and another junior from last year’s squad as key returners this year.
“Richard Grant and Justin Luton (a junior from Maryland) have played for us around the basket the past couple of years,” Petry said. “And both of them have performed very well for us.”
One area that Petry will focus on is his guards. Lucas Jewell graduated, leaving a void at point guard.
“We’ve been very fortunate over the past nine or so years to have a point guard out there that is really an extension of us coaches,” Petry said. “And we’ll have a guy in Larry (Rascoe) out there. Larry’s a Susquehanna Township guy and we’ll put the ball in his hands and see what he can do. Now he’s probably going to do things out there that he hasn’t done in practice because when you put the uniforms on and the lights come on guys tend to do things they haven’t before.”
Despite the turnover, the local Lions will likely be among the top teams when the PSUAC coach’s poll comes out later this month.
In Tuesday's loss, Grant had 14 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Women’s team: Several years after nearly folding as a program, Van Slyke sees an opportunity for her squad to take another big step this season. That started with a convincing win over Central Penn Tuesday.
“I think we have a lot of talent,” Van Slyke said. “We’re young and I think there is going to be a lot of growing as the year goes on, but I feel like we really have a good opportunity to make a run at our conference.”
Like Petry’s squad, the women’s team has a good local flavor to it. Karra Thomason, a Bermudian Springs grad, is now a junior, as is Charizma Johnson, a former West York standout. Janelle Kress, who played for Littlestown last year, and Sky Warner, from Red Lion, are a pair of local freshmen looking to make contributions.
The key to the Lions’ success this season figures to coincide with the success of Emily Colon. The Lancaster Catholic product is one of two seniors on the squad. She brings a wealth of experience from last year.
“Emily is a big part,” Van Slyke said. “She’s a terrific leader. She’s really stepped up and she started stepping it up around the end of last season. She leads on the court by example and she pulls the team together when she needs to.”
In Tuesday's win, Colon and Kress each had 13 points. Warner knocked in 12 points.