LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – The IUP men and the California women have been tabbed as PSAC West preseason basketball favorites in a poll by the league coaches.
IUP is coming off a 33-3 record in 2022 when it won both the PSAC and Atlantic Region Championships before advancing to the NCAA Division II Final Four.
The Crimson Hawks have a local flavor to them with a pair of District 10 alums leading the way in All-PSAC First-team selections David Morris from Erie (a Strong Vincent graduate) and Ethan Porterfield from Sharon.
In addition, IUP graduate assistant coach Jake Perrin was the head coach at Punxsutawney last year and is a Brockway High School graduate
Also coming back from the Crimson Hawks is graduate student guard Shawndale Jones, who averaged 25.0 points per game before a season-ending injury in the seventh game of 2021-22.
Posting a combined 91 victories in the past three seasons and three consecutive PSAC tournament titles, IUP will look for continued success as one of the nation’s best men’s basketball programs over the last several years.
California was the PSAC West champions a year ago and finished with a 25-6 overall and 17-4 PSAC record. The Vulcans made their seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament a year ago going 1-1.
Forward Dejah Terrell returns and is perhaps the best player in the region after earning WBCA All-America honors, PSAC West Athlete of the Year and Defensive Athlete of the Year in 2021-22.
PSAC WEST MEN’S BREAKDOWN
Mercyhurst is picked to finish second in the PSAC West after going 25-7 a year ago, while California is slated third after a 23-10 2022 record.
Mercyhurst went on to the Atlantic Region semifinals where its season ended in an elimination by IUP. The team will retain the majority of their scoring as three of their four top scorers return, including All-PSAC First Team member, MiyKah McIntosh.
California’s winning season in 2022 was its first since 2008 and included an NCAA Division II playoff appearance for the first time since that 2008 season. They also lost to IUP in the tournament – in the Atlantic Region title game. Key returnees include Keith Palek III as well as Jermaine Hall Jr. who missed 2021-22 due to injury.
Pitt-Johnstown is slated to finish fourth followed by Slippery Rock in fifth, Gannon in sixth, Clarion in seventh, Edinboro in eighth, and Seton Hill ninth.
UPJ is coming off a 21-9 season and has the league’s top defensive player and one of its top players in All-American and three-time PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Year John Paul Kromka will come back to lead the team for his senior season.
Slippery Rock went 17-12 a year ago and veteran point guard Amante Britt returns as last season’s third-leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points per game.
Gannon went 14-13 in 2022 and is looking for a slew of newcomers to play a key role in 2023 with nine new players on the roster.
Clarion went 9-18 last year but returns leading scorer Gerald Garmon, while Edinboro was 9-17 a year ago and returns a healthy Kierell Green, who averaged 15.4 points and 10.8 rebounds five games before being lost for the season in early December. He is a Niagra transfer.
Seton Hill finished 3-24 last year and is looking for its first double-digit win season since winning 10 games in 2018. The Griffins do return leading scorer Samuel Tabe.
Some local athletes dotting PSAC West rosters in addition to Morris and Porterfield include Coudersport graduate Owen Chambers and Cathedral Prep graduate Liam Galla at Mercyhurst, Hickory graduate Donald Whitehead Jr. at California, Kennedy Catholic graduate Drew Magestro, Ridgway graduate Daunte Allegretto and Greenville graduate Joe Batt at UPJ, Meadville graduate Lashon Lindsey and Sharpsville graduate Mack Staunch at Slippery Rock, Cathedral Prep graduate Michael Lucarotti, McDowell graduate Zach Cavanagh, Erie East graduate Ian McNeill, McDowell graduate Jaedan Jefferson, and Kennedy Catholic graduate Ike Herster at Gannon, and McDowell graduate Jack Gallagher, Franklin graduate Easton Fulmer, Sharpsville graduate Ryan Ladjevich, General McLane graduates Dane Jukes and Logan Donahue, and Fairview graduate James Sitter at Edinboro.
2022-23 PSAC West Men’s Basketball Preseason Polls (# of 1st Place Votes)
1. IUP (8)
2. Mercyhurst (1)
3. California (Pa.)
5. Slippery Rock
9. Seton Hill
PSAC WEST WOMEN’S BREAKDOWN
Gannon is picked second followed by Edinboro third and IUP fourth.
Going 24-7 in 2022 and winning the PSAC title, Gannon is led by returning WBCA All-American Samantha Pirosko who led the team in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 RPG).
Edinboro, which went 14-11 a year, ago, return its five leading scorers and seven of their eight overall led by All-PSAC First Team selection ins Rana Elhusseini. Edinboro was one of the top home teams in the league falling just three times at McComb Fieldhouse.
IUP finished the 2022 season 21-9 and will have a new leader this year with Interim Head Coach Craig Carey, a former assistant at West Virginia. He replaces Tom McConnell who registered 197 victories as the Crimson Hawks head coach. The Crimson Hawks return their top scorer in Kiera Baughman who averaged 9.7 ppg. And 3.4 RPG.
Seton Hill is tabbed fifth in the preseason poll followed by UPJ, Mercyhurst, Slippery Rock, and Clarion.
After going 21-11 in 2022, Seton Hill returns 2022 PSAC West Rookie of the Year Christiane Frye who averaged 10.3 points per contest. Frye will be the one Griffin returning who had more than one start in 2022.
Pitt-Johnstown was 13-17 in 2022 and returns leading scorer Ashley Norlingm while Mercyhurst went 9-19 and has leading scorer Grace Centrulla back.
Slippery Rock was 12-16 in 2022 but is reeling from the sudden, unexpected death of head coach Bob McGraw during the offseason. Chenara Wilson is the acting head coach, and she has to replace the squad’s top two scorers. Kennedy Middleton is the top returning scorer for The Rock.
Clarion also has an interim head coach with Jermaine Cooper taking over for Jana Ashley. Sierra Bermudez, who led the team in scoring as a freshman, is back.
Local athletes dotting PSAC West rosters including Warren graduate Margo Loutzenhiser, Harbor Creek graduate Ali Benim, Villa Maria graduate Madison Demski, and West Middlesex graduate Delaney Dogan at Gannon, Sharpsville graduate Gillian Fisher, Cambridge Springs graduate Madidson Yanc, and Harbor Creek graduate Jenna Babay at Edinboro, Slippery Rock graduate Anna Kadlubek and Villa Maria graduate Daniela Shaughnessy at IUP, General McLane graduate Kendyl McKissock at UPJ, Slippery Rock High School graduate Emma McDermott, Villa Maria graduate Ava Waid, and Mercyhurst Prep graduate Jillian Spano at Mercyhurst, Erie High graduates Tori Johnson and Arianna Mitchell, Villa Maria graduate Kelley McKnight, and Slippery Rock High School graduate Hallie Raabe at Slippery Rock, and Union graduate Dominika Logue, North Clarion graduate Abby Gatesman, Redbank Valley graduate Tara Hinderliter, and A-C Valley graduate Olivia Boocks at Clarion.
2022-23 PSAC West Women’s Basketball Preseason Polls (# of 1st Place Votes)
1. California (Pa.) (6)
2. Gannon (3)
5. Seton Hill
8. Slippery Rock