Men’s Basketball Rattles Off Two Wins to Open 2022-23 Season


Patrick McGinnis, Sports Writer

Two non-conference victories have the Pitt-Johnstown men’s basketball team off to a great start this season. The Mountain Cats are 2-0 after two home wins against West Virginia Wesleyan College and the University of Charleston in W.Va.

The team began the season at home on Friday, Nov. 11, against the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats. The Mountain Cats got off to a slow start, falling behind 12-7 after eight minutes, but they went on a 24-8 run in the final eleven minutes of the half to take a 31-20 lead into halftime. The Bobcats and Mountain Cats continually traded scores in the second half to set the final score at 73-51 and give Pitt-Johnstown a 1-0 start.

Sophomore Andy Zuchelli led the team with 13 points and tied Andrew Shull for the team lead with five assists. John Paul Kromka and Jared Jakubick also stood out against West Virginia Wesleyan scoring 12 points each.

Following the win, Pitt-Johnstown remained at home on Saturday, Nov. 12, to take on the University of Charleston Golden Eagles who were coming off of a season-opening loss in to Lock Haven University.

The Mountain Cats got off to a hot start, building a 24-14 lead over the Golden Eagles after 10 minutes of play. Charleston managed to turn the tide in the following six minutes, however, going on a 17-6 run to take a 31-30 lead late in the first half. The Mountain Cats rebounded by going on a 7-2 run to close the half with a 37-33 lead. The second half began much like the first, with Pitt-Johnstown starting hot again with a 9-0 run to expand their lead to 46-33. The Mountain Cats held this lead for the entirety of the second half, eventually building a 72-56 lead with three minutes left to play. The Golden Eagles went on a 9-0 run of their own in the final minutes, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to Pitt-Johnstown, 72-65.

After standing out in the opener, senior John Paul Kromka led the team with 25 points against Charleston to pair with six rebounds and five blocks. Fellow senior Joe Batt contributed 18 points to the Mountain Cats while Andrew Shull had another standout performance with 11 points. Pitt-Johnstown finished the day going 8 of 17 (47.1%) on three-point throws, helping contribute to their edge over the Golden Eagles.

Up next for the Mountain Cats on Wednesday, Nov.16, are the 8th-ranked W.Va. West Liberty Hilltoppers. The Hilltoppers are coming off back-to-back wins over Shepherd University and California University of Pennsylvania. Pitt-Johnstown will look to contain Bryce Butler, a Latrobe, Pa. native, who leads West Liberty with 65 points this season.