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PS Fayette women's basketball team continues quest for title

| Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 12:26 a.m.
Jason Black | Daily Courier
Shelby Yourchick will be a key player for the Penn State Fayette women's basketball team this season.

The semifinals were a roadblock for the Penn State Fayette women's basketball team during the 2012-13 season. With a 14-11 record, the Roaring Lions had a strong campaign, but the coveted titles they played for eluded them thanks to a semifinal loss in the PSUAC Tournament and a semifinal defeat in the USCAA National Tournament.

This year, the Roaring Lions hope that, despite a few key losses, they can continue working toward a championship season.

“I look for us to contend all the way through, not only in the (PSUAC) conference, but nationally,” Penn State Fayette coach Kurt Mattern said. “The players we have are legitimately good players, so we'll go nine deep and everybody will play.”

Penn State Fayette must deal with the loss of Kasey Ruble and Kaitlyn Novak. Both were instrumental in the program's success the past few seasons.

“We lost Kasey and Kaitlyn, and they were huge parts of the team,” Mattern said.

Ruble is still part of the program; she elected to serve as an assistant coach.

Mattern and Ruble will be looking to build a championship team, and they have a good start thanks to several returning players.

Everything begins with Caitlin Wontroba, who Mattern said is one of the leaders on the team. The junior guard will be called upon to play a lot of minutes throughout the season.

Wontroba knows the high expectations surrounding the program, and she embraces it.

“I really want us to win the conference, and I'm hoping we win nationals because we were close last year,” Wontroba said. “I'm hoping we get it done this year.”

Seniors Jill Guthrie (guard/forward), Shelby Yourchick (forward) and Stephanie Longo (forward) provide a wealth of experience and talent to this year's team. Junior Shelby Dziak will provide strong depth at the guard position, and sophomores Shannon Flament (forward) and Tara Neely (guard) will each be looking to build on solid performances from 2012-13.

Penn State Fayette has also added several new players, including freshmen forwards Kaitlin Miller and Courtney Haines.

With returning players coupled with new additions, Mattern believes the Roaring Lions are a complete team.

“Our biggest weakness has been rebounding, and in our first two scrimmages, we won that battle,” Mattern said. “Plus, we have shooters and ball-handlers, so we've addressed our weaknesses.”

Mattern likes the way the team has prepared for the start of the 2013-14 season, and he's eager to see what the team is capable of accomplishing.

“What I like is their attitude,” Mattern said. “They work hard, but they have a good time and coaching them is really fun.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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