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The bad news for first-year head coach Rachel Hartung is that Wilkes...
has only seven veterans returning from last season’s squad that finished with a 4-21 record. The good news for Hartung is that the seven returnees were each among the team’s eight leading scorers a year ago.
Hartung will have a chance to see her Wilkes University women’s basketball team take the floor on Friday, November 18th at 1:00 p.m. when they take on Cabrini College in the opening round of the Scotty Wood Tournament at Muhlenberg College.
“We are going to be very young this season,” commented Hartung. “We have three seniors, four sophomores and eight freshmen on our roster. Fortunately, we have received outstanding leadership from our seniors, Rena Bolin, Andrea Kacprowicz and Tristin Tkach.”
The Wilkes backcourt should be solid thanks to the return of Bolin, Kacprowicz and sophomores Randi Corbo and Katie Cappelloni. Bolin averaged 12.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, three assists and 1.8 steals per game in earning second team All-Freedom Conference honors last season. Kacprowicz contributed 12 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists. She also connected on a team-leading 51 three-point field goals. Corbo appeared in 22 games as a freshman and averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds, while Cappelloni played in each of the Lady Colonels 25 contests and chipped in 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds.
Four freshmen will also look to fit into the mix at the guard spots. The quartet includes Elmira Southside (NY) graduate Holly Leszyk, Caravel Academy standout Tiana Lee, The Nichols School product Ashley Balon and Hazleton Area graduate Vanessa Saras.
“I feel that our guard play has a great deal of potential,” stated Hartung. “Our four veterans in the backcourt can each handle the ball and have been able to push our four freshman to get better every day. Our speed in the backcourt is definitely an asset and will allow us to look to run our transition game.”
Five players will look to secure playing time at the small forward and power forward positions. Tkach and sophomore Lacey Andresen are the only veterans among the five players. Andresen enjoyed a solid rookie season in which she played in all 25 games, including 23 as a starter. She averaged 6.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, which included a 14-point and 15 rebound effort against Delaware Valley. Tkach appeared in 24 games as a junior and contributed 2.8 points and 2.2 rebounds to the Wilkes attack. Freshmen Patti Shutt from North Schuylkill High School, Pocono Mountain West’s Khadija Bates, and Chelsey Gosse from Allentown Dieruff, will also push for court time.
“I feel that we have a pretty good mix at the forward positions. Both Andresen and Gosse can also play a guard position, while Cappelloni is capable of moving from guard to forward. This group has made tremendous strides throughout the pre-season. They continue to push each other to get better.”
Sophomore Karyn Perestam and freshman Kelly Patchell, who played her high school basketball at Vernon Township (NY), will both see time at the center position. Perestam started 23 of 25 games last season and was the team’s top rebounder in 12 of those contests. The Binghamton High School product averaged 5.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, while also blocking a school-record 64 shots. Perestam had a season-high 22 points against Farmingdale State, while pulling down 14 rebounds in a win over Marywood.
“Karyn has really stepped up and become a leader for us,” said Hartung. “She is a very positive leader who has come back in great physical shape. Karyn possesses the ability to get up and down the floor very well and will play a key role in our transition game. Kelly has worked very hard during the pre-season and has continued to improve. She does what she does well and will certainly play a major role for us.”
“The biggest key for our team this season is going to be the way we approach things on a daily basis,” added Hartung. “If we can continue to work hard everyday day, whether it be in practice or in a game situation, I feel that we can be successful. There is no doubt in my mind that we have a lot of potential, we just need to believe in each other and believe that we can be successful.”