Women's hoops primed for season to start

| Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

With an appetite for success, the St. Vincent College women's basketball team is hungry to get back on the court.

“They're ready to get started,” third-year coach Jimmy Petruska said. “Right now, our ladies are very hungry. This is a very motivated group. Their character and poise is through the roof. We've had a month of going after each other on the court. We had two very successful scrimmages. We won both pretty decisively. We definitely have what it takes.”

St. Vincent, selected to finish second in the 10-team Presidents' Athletic Conference, is seeking a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III tournament after a 22-7 season in 2011-12 concluded with a first-round loss to York (Pa.).

Among the departed players is All-American Brittany Sedlock, who has joined the Bearcats' coaching staff as an assistant after helping to lead them to a pair of tournament bids the past two seasons.

She joins another former St. Vincent player, third-year assistant Ashley Campbell, on Petruska's staff.

“It's always a plus when you have alumni of the program join the staff,” Petruska said. “They know what it takes, they've been through it and have that pride to instill in (their teammates), especially the younger players.”

Sedlock led St. Vincent in scoring in 2011, averaging 16.7 points per game.

Senior forward Devin McGrath is St. Vincent's leading returning scorer and last season's second-leading point producer (12.9 ppg). McGrath and senior guard Melissa Mansur, each approaching 1,000 career points, were named team captains.

“There's a little difference this year,” Petruksa said. “Brittany was our leader last year, but she wasn't that vocal. She led more on the court. Devin and Melissa are much more vocal and they're offering that leadership realm as vocal leaders.”

Petruska's excitement for the fast-approaching start to the Bearcats' schedule on Nov. 16 against Juniata at the La Roche Classic spawns from a talented group that includes size, athleticism and speed.

“We have a lot of options to throw on the court. I've never coached a team in my 11 years of coaching where we've been this versatile,” Petruska said.

St. Vincent boasts three players of at least 6 feet tall. Junior Taylor Mathers, a 6-2 forward, and 6-0 seniors forward Jordan Clinton and center Savannah Hardy are expected to see plenty of action.

Petruska said that sophomore guard Elle Collins, who played every game at the point as a freshman, is likely to move to shooting guard with sophomore Jessica Welch taking over at point.

“We've been using Jess there in the preseason and she's doing a nice job,” Petruska said. “That's just one example of the versatility on this team.

“It's difficult to sustain the type of success we've been having because we always see teams that want to beat us because of it. We accept that. We ask them to bring it on. We want to beat you at your best.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dmackall@tribweb.com

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