Track athletes gear up to place in conference

Track athletes gear up to place in conference

Asha Njeri

Pitt-Johnsotwn’s men’s track coach Carl Keifer times his runners during their practice Wednesday.

Bobby Scott, Editor-In-Chief

Pitt-Johnstown men and women’s basketball teams are both on the verge of sitting on the outside looking in when it comes to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.

The men’s team holds the sixth and final spot in the West Division while the Lady Cats fell to seventh place after losing to Indiana (Pa.) University Saturday.

Another loss by either team can end their seasons.

The Lady Cats were able to defeat Mercyhurst University, 77-70 Wednesday in the Sports Center.

The win ended a tumultuous nine-game losing streak spanning over 40 days.

Junior center and Pitt-Johnstown’s leading scorer Jasmine Harper led the team with a double-double, adding 17 points and 14 rebounds to the winning effort.

It is the team’s third win since the calendar changed from 2014 to 2015, as the team has gone 3-10 in 2015 and have won only three of their last 16 games as of Feb. 20.

Seniors Nicole Carman and Kelsey Sleighter both had productive games as well, chipping in 14 and nine points.

Both women could be playing their careers’ last game tonight at Edinboro University if they are left out of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.

“I am going to play every game like it is my last game because it basically is,” Sleighter said.

“I have had a great ride, and I’m just going to have fun and play my heart out the rest of the season.”

Both she and Carman have been one of the team’s top four scorers in all four years they have played for Pitt-Johnstown.

Second year head coach Mike Drahos, said although this is the team’s first win since Jan. 7, they have not been playing badly.

“As bad as (the losing) has been, it’s not like the team has been playing terrible basketball,” he said.

“If there was only one reason why the team (was on a losing streak), we would have fixed it.”

The Mountain Cats, on the other hand, were unable to turn their halftime lead into a much-needed win against the Atlantic Region’s fifth-best team, Mercyhurst, after the women’s game Wednesday.

Despite shooting for 59.3 percent from field goal range in the first half, the Mountain Cats were overwhelmed on defense and their hot shooters went cold in the second half.

Sophomore forward A.J. Leahey and junior guard Nate Snodgrass shot for 66.7 percent each from three-point range in first half. After halftime, Leahey made one of only three three-pointers.

Another deciding factor of the game was the distribution of points scored amongst each team’s roster.

Both teams had four players who scored double digits, but it was Mercyhurst’s supporting cast who took over the game.

The Lakers tallied 51 bench points with three players scoring in double figures.

This is comparative to the Mountain Cats’ bench players who were able to score only 17 points with 14 coming from freshman guard Dale Clancy.

Leahey, the team’s leading scorer said that it is the defense that needs to play better to properly complement how well the offense is playing and to win games.

“We need to play better defense and take care of the ball (to end the regular season), and, hopefully, we can make it into the conference tournament and make a run,” he said.

Senior guard Matt Palo said, with only one guaranteed game left of his collegiate career, he is trying to make the most of his opportunities.

“I’m just trying to have fun and play as hard as I can,” he said.

“I’m just trying to motivate everyone and do the best that I can coming down the stretch.”

Both teams are to play their last regular season game tonight as they travel to Edinboro University for a doubleheader.