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St. Vincent women reload after taking graduation hit

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Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
St. Vincent forward Grant Latus pulls up to shoot during practice on October 23, 2013 in Unity Township.

Coach: Jimmy Petruska

2012-13 record: 20-7 overall, 15-3 conference

Conference: Presidents' Athletic Conference

Top returning players: F Taylor Mathers, Sr. (7.6 ppg); G Elle Collins, Jr. (9.1 ppg); G Ally Schmidt, Jr. (6.7 ppg).

Key losses: Devin McGarth, Melissa Mansur, Ariel Rocco, Jordan Clinton.

The buzz: St. Vincent finished second behind Thomas More for the third consecutive season. … The Bearcats fell to Washington & Jefferson in the conference semifinals. … McGrath averaged 16.1 points per game. … Notable freshmen include Maggie Kimmich (Franklin Regional), Nichole Kerans (Deer Lakes) and Kayla Stockens (Shanksville).

Schedule: Nov. 16, Capitol; Nov. 20, at Penn State-Altoona; Nov. 23, La Roche; Nov. 26, Juniata; Dec. 4, *Chatham; Dec. 7, at *Westminster; Dec. 16, *Washington & Jefferson; Dec. 18, at Allegheny; Dec. 29-30, at Juniata College Tournament; Jan. 4, *Grove City; Jan. 8, *Thiel; Jan. 11, at *Bethany: Jan. 15, at *Geneva: Jan. 18, *Thomas More; Jan. 22, *Waynesburg; Jan. 25, at *Chatham; Jan. 29, at *Washington & Jefferson; Feb. 1, Westminster; Feb. 5, at Thiel; Feb. 8, at *Grove City; Feb. 12, *Geneva; Feb. 15, *Bethany; Feb. 19, at *Waynesburg; Feb. 22, at *Thomas More.

* Presidents' Athletic Conference games.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 10:18 p.m.

From the outside looking in, the St. Vincent women's basketball team is rebuilding.

After finishing 20-7 overall and 15-3 in the PAC last season, the Bearcats fell to Washington & Jefferson in the PAC semifinals.

Then they lost about 34 points per game when forwards Devin McGrath (16.1 ppg), Jordan Clinton (6.6 ppg) and Ariel Rocco (4.7 ppg) and guard Melissa Mansur (6.9 ppg) graduated.

But the Bearcats aren't viewing their current team the way some of their opponents might be.

“We're extremely young, but with that being said, it's extremely exciting,” coach Jimmy Petruska said. “I love to be the underdog.”

Only three players on the roster have multiple years of college experience.

It has translated to a willingness to be taught, Petruska said.

“Already I see great attitudes,” Petruska said. “I see great work ethics. And right now, they're in the palm of my hand.

“They're soaking up every word that I say.”

St. Vincent returns its second-leading scorer and primary ball-handler, Elle Collins. As a sophomore last year, she was second on the team with 9.2 points per game, and added 2.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

“I think we're in good shape, and our bench is very deep now,” Collins said.

“Despite the fact that a lot of those girls are underclassmen, I think the confidence in those girls is just going to get greater and greater.”

Assisting Collins in running the offense is junior Jessica Welch, who averaged 3.8 points last year.

“I'll be honest,” Welch said. “I was like, ‘Oh, we're going to be so young. We'll see how having so many freshmen will (be).' ”

Any doubts that she had coming into the season have since been erased, she said.

Although St. Vincent returns 6-foot-2 senior forward Taylor Mathers — who was third on the team with 7.1 points per game last season — the lineup as a whole is much smaller this season, leading to a faster pace.

“I love fast breaks,” Collins said.

“If we didn't have to set up an offense ever, that would be totally fine with me.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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