Archive for January, 2012

YSU Men To Face Austin Peay In BracketBusters Game


The Youngstown State men’s basketball team will visit Ohio Valley Conference member Austin Peay in the 2012 Sears BracketBusters announced on Monday evening.

The Penguins (11-9, 6-4 Horizon) and Governors (9-14, 6-4 OVC) have met 14 times while the Guins were members of the OVC, but have not faced each other since 1988.  Youngstown State owns an 8-6 advantage in the all-time series but the Governors have won the last four meetings.  YSU has not won in Clarksville, Tenn., since a 62-57 victory on Feb. 16, 1984.

The Penguins own a 4-4 record in BracketBusters games and are 1-0 against the Ohio Valley Conference, defeating Eastern Kentucky, 66-61, on Feb. 17, 2007.

Dates and times for the game will be announced at a later date, but the location is set, as well as the matchup.

YSU Men Hit The Road For A Few


The Youngstown State men’s basketball team (11-9, 6-4 Horizon League) embarks on its longest trek of the season – a seven-day, three-game road trip – when it visits Milwaukee, Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast on 570 WKBN-AM.

This is the 31st meeting between Youngstown State and Milwaukee in an all-time series that dates back to 1972. Milwaukee leads the series 24-6. The Guins snapped a four-game losing streak to the Panthers with a 68-66 win on Jan. 20 at the Beeghly Center. The last time the Penguins won in Milwaukee was a 68-65 win on Dec. 10, 2006. The last time YSU swept the season series against Milwaukee was during the 2006-07 season.

After Milwaukee, the Penguins travel to UIC for a Thursday night game.  The road trip ends on Sunday with a game at Loyola which tips off at 2 p.m.

If the Penguins are to have any shot at winning the Horizon League, they need to win at least two out of these three games as Butler and Valparaiso loom next week for a pair of big home games.

Cleveland State Cruises Past Cold-Shooting Youngstown State, 67-47


In front of the fourth largest crowd in the history of the Beeghly Center (6,311), Youngstown State couldn’t get synchronized and fell to Cleveland State, 67-47.  The Vikings played great defense and the Penguins, as Coach Jerry Slocum said at the post-game press conference, ‘self-imploded’.  The Penguins struggled mightily from behind the arc in this one, going 4-24.

“We got beat in every facet of this game tonight”, said Slocum.  “I don’t think we handled the moment very well.  We played outside of our basketball IQ and they didn’t play any different than they did the first time.”

In the first half, things were tight with Cleveland State holding a 15-12 lead with eight minutes played.  The Vikings would close out the half with a 26-7 run to establish a commanding 41-19 lead at the half.  Cleveland State applied full-court pressure almost the entire first half, which didn’t seem to bother YSU as much as the Penguins struggling to run their normal half-court sets in half the time.

Only five Penguins, the starters, (Damian Eargle, Ashen Ward, DuShawn Brooks, Kendrick Perry and Blake Allen) scored in the first half.  The Penguins were a dismal 2-14 from behind the arc.  Conversely, Cleveland State was hot, nailing 6-8 long balls.  Trevon Harmon and Anton Grady had nine and eight points respectively for the Vikings in the first half.


In the second half, Cleveland State kept their foot on the gas pedal.  With 11:28 to go in the contest, the Vikings were firmly in control of the game with a 56-35 lead.  The tremendous half-court defense of the Vikings was forcing YSU into taking a lot of shots they normally would not.  The game would also evolve into a very physical battle with plenty of hard fouls, pushing, and shoving.

YSU sliced the CSU lead to 17 when Kendrick Perry hit a ten-footer to make it a 58-41 game with 7:17 remaining. The Vikings were able to weather the storm and recover before Slocum emptied the YSU bench with about three minutes to play.

“Our big wins did not make our year”, remarked Slocum.  “Last week when we beat Milwaukee, I told you that it would not make our year.  This loss will not break our year.  Give them credit, they are a very good team, but our play tonight didn’t help our chances.”


Cleveland State (18-4, 8-2) got 10 points from Harmon, 8 each from Pogue and Charlie Lee, and Anton Grady had a big night scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 boards.  The Vikings clamped a stronger grip on first place in the Horizon League with the win.  Furthermore, the Vikings nullified YSU’s win earlier this season at Cleveland State.

“We came in with a chip on our shoulder”, said the Vikings Jeremy Montgomery.  “We knew we had to stay focused on defense and keep the pressure on to shake things up.  Our full-court pressure forced them into quicker sets and that is what we drew up for this game.”

YSU, suffering one of their poorest shooting efforts of the season, got 11 points from  Allen, and ten each from Perry and Eargle.  Eargle also recorded five blocks in the contest.  The Penguins slipped to 11-9, and 6-4 in the Horizon League.

Youngstown State hits the road to face Loyola, UIC, and Milwaukee.

YSU Rallies From 15 Down To Force Overtime, But Wright State Gets Win, 71-66


An integral part of any athletic program turning around for the better depends on consistency.  Granted, the Youngstown State Lady Penguins have taken steps in the right direction all season.  Second-year coach, Bob Boldon and staff have initiated a strong offense where the three-point shot has been a source of good things.  Wright State needed overtime to claim a 71-66 win after the Penguins roared back late to tie things up, once down 15.

“I thought we gave a good effort”, said Coach Boldon.  “That was a good team sitting all alone in second place.  The energy was real good and I was happy our kids had a chance to play in that kind of atmosphere.”

In the first half, the Penguins struggled in the latter portion with their shooting.  Seemed like every shot hoisted was clanging and the Guins had trouble even getting shots off a couple of times turning the ball over on shot clock violations.  Brandi Brown was the leading scorer for YSU at the break, that comes as no surprise.  What does jump out was that as her teams leading scorer she only had four points and no one was tied with her.  Kim Demmings paced Wright State with five points and the Raiders were ahead 26-22 at the break.


In the second half, the Penguins showed signs of life on threes by Monica Touvelle and Kenya Middlebrooks to cut into a lead that grew to twelve after the break.  With 11:57 left to go in the game, the Raiders were comfortably ahead, 47-36.  Molly Fox started to establish inside dominance after being hit with an offensive foul and three traveling calls in the first half.  Fox completed a traditional three-point play to lengthen the margin to twelve points at 48-36.

Middlebrooks, shaking off a sluggish first half that consisted of going 0-4 from the floor and five turnovers,  collected her second three-pointer of the second half to make it 51-39.  Kelsea Fickiesen snared a rebound on offense and and was fouled making the putback, completing a three-point play that made it 51-41 with 8:45 to play.  Fickiesen would hit another three that made it a 53-47 game after a good defensive effort.  Demmings responded with a 15-foot jumper to give Wright State back a 55-47 lead with 6:45 remaining.

Heidi Schlegel did her best to keep the Penguins alive converting a three-point play with 2:27 to go that made it 57-54 in favor of Wright State.  Brown got a rebound with 27 seconds left but the Penguins could not convert trailing 59-57.  The Raiders inbounded and Demmings was fouled immediately.  Macey Nortey started a drive at the opposing baseline and in 7.9 of the 8.3 seconds that remained, got to the other end and hit a layup to tie the game and force overtime.

“We would have thrown up the white flag in the past”, commented Nortey.  “We don’t do that anymore.  We learn something each game, win or lose, and if we guard the way we know how, we can compete.”

In the overtime, Demmings took over hitting two quick baskets to put Wright State ahead, 63-59.  With 3:339 left in the extra session, Middlebrooks was fouled and hit a pair of charity tosses to make it 63-61.  Nortey again went the length of the court on a fastbreak to tie the game.  Demmings, however, responded with a three to untie the game.  Fox was whistled for fouling Brown with 1:39 left, sending her to the line, where she hit both free throws to tie the game at 66 apiece.  Not to be outdone, Demmings converted another old-fashioned three-point play to give the Raiders a 69-66 lead with 38.5 seconds remaining.


Brown (above) finished the game with 11 points and 8 rebounds for YSU (9-11, 3-6).  Melissa Thompson followed up a career-effort with another decent start for Boldon, finishing with 8 points.  Schlegel came to life late to finish with 10.  Middlebrooks ended up with 10 points and did well to put aside her shaky first half, showing good composure to mentally regroup at halftime and produce in the second half.  The Penguins went 12-46 from three-point land, second all-time in attempts.

Wright State got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Fox and 25 big points from Demmings.  The Raiders improved to 14-7 overall and 7-2 in the Horizon League.

Next up for the Lady Penguins is a February 2 game against Valparaiso at the Beeghly Center.  Tipoff is set for 7:05.

Phantoms Get Big 3-2 Win Over Dubuque In Front Of Good Crowd


The Youngstown Phantoms have been pining for an audience to support them for three seasons now.  Friday night, thanks to ‘YSU night’, a winning record, and some good promotions, the Zoldan family got a taste of what the potential can be.  Matt O’Connor turned away 40 shots and the Youngstown Phantoms dazzled a crowd of well over 3,500 with a 3-2 win.  The crowd was loud for most of the game and made a big adrenaline push for the home team.

“Having the big crowd was awesome”, commented Phantoms coach Anthony Noreen.  “We fed off of them and they fed off of us and it is the kind of crowd we would like to duplicate.  I always tell people that watching a game on TV does the sport of hockey no justice and to see a game live.”

In the first period, Dubuque (20-11-3) scored 7:42 into the game.  Jono Davis beat O’Connor to put the Fighting Saints ahead 1-0.  Davis gathered the puck in front of the crease and basically danced around O’Connor beating him glove side with a nifty move.

The Phantoms retaliated when Austin Cangelosi found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the season.  Michael Gunn and Mike Ambrosia picked up assists.  Cangelosi received a real nice feed as they broke into the Dubuque zone and made Fighting Saints goaltender, Matt Morris, pay by beating him.  The game-tying goal came with 4:58 left in the first period.


In the second period, the Phantoms offense came to life.  Todd Koritzinsky broke out of the Phantoms zone and fired about ten feet beyond the blue line to beat Morris and give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead.  Koritzinsky’s goal was unassisted and was his fourth of the season.

The Phantoms increased their lead to 3-1 when Ryan Belonger scored at close range with exactly three minutes left to play in the third period.  Koritzinsky, having a very productive night, notched his second point of the game with an assist on the even-strength goal.

The stat that no one would believe was that after two periods, the Phantoms had three goals on just 12 shots.  The Fighting Saints had 33 shots and only one goal.  O’ Connor really made some tremendous saves for the Phantoms during the second period.


In the third period, the Phantoms (21-12-3) killed a couple of penalties.  In fact, Dubuque only had one shot on goal through both man advantages, the defense and special teams really stepped it up.  The Phantoms seemed content to work the clock as they were offensively dumping and chasing in the Dubuque zone.  The Fighting Saints were scurrying around and taking urgent chances and cut the deficit to 3-2, but got no closer.  Dubuque outshot Youngstown, 42-21.

“This probably wouldn’t even be in the top half of the games we have played this season”, said Noreen.  “Matt [O’Connor] was unbelievable and on a night that we didn’t give him a ton of offensive support, he was able to put this team on his back and won the game.”

Kenya Middlebrooks Shatters Three-Point Record, YSU Shatters Detroit, 80-67


Two seasons ago, Detroit’s Yar Shayok and Youngstown State’s Brandi Brown were in a two horse race for Horizon League Newcomer of The Year.  Shayok walked away with the hardware despite being inferior in a vast majority of the statistics.  Unfortunately for Brown, that Penguin team went 0-30.  Kenya Middlebrooks was part of that Cindy Martin regime.  She has endured plenty of heartbreak.  The senior, on this night, was absolutely on fire and finished with 30 points and the Penguins rode her coattails to a 80-67 win.  The hoop looked as big as the ocean for this game anyway.

Fast forward to 2012.  Not to demean, but Shayok comes off of Detroit’s bench now.  Brown is living up to a well-desrved honor as Horizon League Conference Player of The Year.  The Penguins were riding their longest losing streak of the season (four), but matched the program’s win total for the last three seasons combined with their ninth win.

“It was a good challenge”, commented Coach Bob Boldon afterwards.  “Brandi got into foul trouble last week in Milwaukee and we looked like we didn’t even know how to play basketball.  We came back, had two real good practices and proved how much these players have matured in a short period of time.”

In the first half, Brown and her Penguin teammates were fluent on both ends of the court.  Brown amassed nine first half points, mostly against a much larger defender, Detroit’s freshman standout, Shareta Brown.  The Penguins also got nine from Melissa Thompson who got the start en route to a 35-26 halftime lead.  The Titans struggled shooting the ball in the first half on nine of 29 shooting (31%).


As the second half started, Detroit cut into the YSU lead with a couple of quick buckets, but Brown hit a three to make it a 38-30 game. Shareta Brown made it a 38-33 game as she lumbered through the paint (a la Jerome Bettis), got fouled, hit a basket, and converted the free throw.  Kenya Middlebrooks showed some aggression as she cut through three Titans and converted while being fouled.  Middlebrooks converted the free throw and YSU seemed to, up to this point anyway, keep the Titans safely in their rear-view mirrors.

In fact, Middlebrooks went on a spree.  She nailed two more threes to increase the YSU lead to 50-42 and was in some kind of zone.  The argument could be made that the supporting cast around Brandi Brown is why the Penguins have already more wins this season than the past three combined.  Boldon-ball is exciting and loaded with chucks beyond the arc.  Newcomer Devan Matkin hit a three with 10:57 left in the game to solidify the Penguins margin to 57-46.


The Penguins built the lead to as much as 18 in the second half, but the Titans used a very effective full-court press that obviously rattled YSU and allowed Detroit to crawl back into the game.  The Penguins were ahead 70-56 with over five minutes to go when Brandi Brown collected her fifth foul.  The rest of this team is not chopped liver, and they proved it by keeping the game out of reach, building the lead back to 19 with just over three to play.

Middlebrooks went 8-10 from three (80%) and finished the game with a career high 30 points.  She came into the game leading the Horizon League with 44 three-pointers and only increased her margin with her outstanding performance.  Before fouling out, Brown collected 16 points on 5-7 shooting.  Thompson contributed twelve more for the Penguins, also a career high.

“The preparation and pregame help you get ready”, remarked Middlebrooks.  “It’s a very big win for us and we needed a win really bad.  When you get those wide open looks, you take the shots, and fortunately, they were falling for me tonight.”

Middlebrooks said she follows the same ritual every game and did nothing special to prepare.  The result, however, was very special.

Detroit (9-11, 5-3 HL) got 21 from Shareta Brown who went 9-12 from the free throw line.

YSU will host Wright State Saturday in the first game of a men/women doubleheader.  Tipoff is set for 4:30.

Blake Allen Is Horizon League Player Of The Week


Youngstown State junior guard Blake Allen (Tampa, Fla.) has been named the Horizon League Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday morning. He also garned player-of-the-week honors from

The accolade is the first of Allen’s career, and he helps Youngstown State become the first men’s basketball team to have four different players of the week in one season since Loyola in 1984-85.  Kendrick Perry is the lone starter not to get the award, and he is very capable to explode at anytime.  Record setting stuff here!

Allen joins DuShawn Brooks (Dec. 5), Damian Eargle (Jan. 2) and Ashen Ward (Jan. 9) as Penguins who have collected player of the week honors.

Last week, Allen averaged 21.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game and led the Guins to a 2-0 record, including a 68-66 win over then-Horizon League Leader Milwaukee and YSU’s first 30-point Horizon League victory, 77-47, over Green Bay.

Overall Allen shot 75 percent (12-of-16) from the field, 76.9 percent (10-of-13) from 3-point range and 81.8 percent (9-of-11) from the free-throw line.  He scored a career-high 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and matched a career best with seven 3-pointers against the Panthers.  Against Green Bay, Allen scored a game-high 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and made three 3-pointers.

Youngstown State (11-8, 6-3 Horizon) will have a chance to sweep the season series from Cleveland State (17-4, 7-2 Horizon) on Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Penguins host the Vikings. The Horizon League Network will have live coverage, beginning at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Penguins Record 77-47 Win Over Green Bay Marking Largest Ever Horizon Margin


Youngstown State University is turning into a home game winning juggernaut.  After years of struggling to compete in the Horizon League at home, on the road, in the Giant Eagle parking lot on 224, or at a neutral site, the Penguins have finally hit stride in the comfort of the Beeghly Center.  Sunday afternoon, the train kept rolling as the Penguins disposed of Green Bay, 77-47, with little resistance.  The win was the largest ever conference margin of victory (30 points), previously 25, for the Penguins.

“We were up by 13 at the half”, said Jerry Slocum.  “The maturation of this team has to be to put the hammer down when they get the chance to.  Coming out to start the second half, we were up 14, and it went from 14 to 20.  Our guys seized the moment with their defensive play.”

In the first half, the Phoenix held a two point lead a minute into the contest, it would be their largest and final lead of the day.  Youngstown State used an array of weapons to compile a lead as big as 18 points in the half, and eventually settled on a 38-25 margin at the break.  Blake Allen continued to produce for YSU, knocking down ten points to lead all scorers.  Kendrick Perry contributed eight and DuShawn Brooks six more to punctuate a strong half on both ends of the court for the Guins.  Coach Jerry Slocum had the luxury of using his bench frequently as eight different Penguins scored in the opening half.

“It’s a growing point and we talked at halftime about finishing”, said Perry.  “We preach about taking care of home court and I feel we are doing a good job of that this year.”


In the second half, the Penguins did something they have had trouble with in the recent past, holding a large lead.  Through the first five minutes of the second half, YSU outscored the Phoenix, 11-7, to maintain the double-digit margin.    At the 13:55 mark of the half, the Penguins held a 51-35 advantage.  Slocum was very careful not to mass-substitute at any point always having three starters on the court while getting Shawn Amiker (above), Josh Chojnacki, Nate Perry, D J Cole, and Fletcher Larson, were able to log some valuable game minutes with various combinations of the starting five.

In between the substitutions, the glue (starting five) of the Penguins kept everything tight.  Brooks was hitting threes, Ashen Ward was hustling and getting the dirty work done, and Allen and Perry did a good job working both the shot clock, and the Green Bay defense.  With 8:43 left in the game, the Penguins held a 67-43 lead.  The other Perry, Nate, hit a couple of threes to stockpile the lead to 70-45 with 7:38 remaining.

“I wanted to bring guys in to get them time with the ones”, said Slocum.  “Someone looked over at me and said we were up by 25.  I didn’t really care about the score as much as I did getting the bench some time to battle.  The bench players did a good job defensively for us.”


With the loss, Green Bay dipped to 3-6 in Horizon League play.  The Phoenix got XX points from Alec Brown and X rebounds from Kam Cerroni.

Youngstown State (11-8, 6-3) got 16 from Allen, 15 from Kendrick Perry, 12 from Ward, 12 from Brooks, and six from Eargle.  Eargle also had 8 rebounds and continued his streak of recording a block in every game this season early on, adding a few more to his record-nearing total.  Noteworthy in the victory was the good play Slocum got out of his bench, Nate Perry and Amiker are starting to look more confident each time they enter a game regardless of the situation or score.

The Penguins welcome Cleveland State Saturday as part of a doubleheader, which will start a half hour after the YSU women’s game that tips at 4:30 p.m.

YSU Knocks Off First Place Milwaukee, 68-66, To Tighten Horizon Up


Many things rolled into Youngstown on Friday.  There was some nasty Winter weather making it a great night for basketball, and the good turnout of fans at the Beeghly Center were treated to a very exciting basketball game.  Milwaukee rolled into town at 6-1 flying solo atop the Horizon League standings.  ESPN also rolled in as the game aired on ESPN3.  When the smoke cleared, the Penguins stayed in the race with a thrilling 68-66 win behind a career-best 27 points from junior Blake Allen.

“I thought we battled”, said Coach Jerry Slocum.  “We told the kids at halftime to stay up and expect Williams to play more minutes.  We also told the guys not to panic.”

In the first half, the Penguins showed their heart and determination.  Five minutes into the game, the Penguins found themselves in an 18-13 hole.  Despite the early offensive woes, Blake Allen (above) heated up scoring 22 first half points, going 6-6 from three-point range.  Allen absolutely caught fire and hoisted the Penguins to a 41-30 halftime lead.  The Penguins were doing a good job from a Goliath standpoint.  Despite being outsized, YSU was hustling and scrapping for rebounds on both ends of the floor.  Damian Eargle battled through a sore right wrist to post eight points, four boards and a pair of blocks in the opening session.


In the second half, Milwaukee closed the margin quickly.  Allen hit his career-best tying three and Kendrick Perry and Eargle had back-to-back breakaway dunks to put YSU ahead 51-41 with just over twelve minutes to play.  With YSU ahead 54-42, Milwaukee’s Ryan Allen hit for two and the  Paris Gulley connected on a pair of free throws to make it 54-48.  D. J. Cole was then fouled on a drive to the hoop with 8:28 left.  Cole hit the first of two and the Penguins jacked the lead up to seven with 7:38 to go.

“There were two keys to winning this game tonight”, said Slocum.  “First off, we outrebounded them, and that has been an achiles heel for us.  Secondly was we hit free throws down the stretch.  It gets contagious and when they start falling, it seems like everyone is hitting.”

At the 6:25 mark, senior Ashen Ward (below) hit a pair of charity tosses increasing YSU’s fast-dwindling lead to 57-52.  Kaylon Williams nailed a three to make it a 57-54 game, and then Ward went back to the line and hit two more to give YSU the 59-54 lead. Milwaukee took a two point lead on another Williams three that made it 61-59 in favor of the Panthers.


With 3:18 left to go in the game and the Penguins trailing 62-59, Blake Allen connected on a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game.  Milwaukee converted an alley-oop to take their thee-point lead back.  With 2:40 left, Kendrick Perry hit one of two free throws to leave it a two-point Milwaukee lead at 64-62.  Perry went right back to the line to shoot a one-and-one, and he was able to make one of two. DuShawn Brooks was fouled on the rebound of the second free throw and went to the line first tying the game at 64 , and then giving the Penguins a 65-64 lead with his second.

With just under two minutes to go, Haarsma connected on a pair of free throws to lift the Panthers back in front, 66-65.  Perry was again fouled and hit one of two to tie game at 66.  After an empty possession by the Panthers, the Penguins came into their offense slowly with under a minute to play.  Ward scooped up an offensive rebound and put it back with 31 seconds to play putting the Penguins ahead, 68-66.  The crowd rose to their feet with 18 seconds to go and Milwaukee holding the rock.  A three was off the mark, but rebounded by Milwaukee, where Damian Eargle, among the national leaders in blocks, had perhaps his biggest career swat to preserve the win.

YSU got a career-best effort from Blake Allen who finished with 27, including 7-8 from three.  Eargle also compiled a double-double putting up 10 points and ten rebounds and blocking four shots, including the stuff that sealed the game.”

“They are really tough, but we have done great at home so far”, said Allen.  When asked if he was ‘in a zone’ in the first half, Allen replied, “Definitely the case.  I have been in the gym and working hard and tonight it pid off for us”.

Milwaukee got double digits out of Williams (18 points), Haarsma (14 points), Gully (13points), and Ryan Allen (11 points).

YSU Women Drop 75-50 Decision At #11 Green Bay


The Youngstown State women’s basketball team played the 11th-ranked team in the country to within 15 points in the first 30 minutes before Green Bay pulled away to win 75-50 on Thursday evening at the Kress Events Center.  YSU trailed just 53-38 at the 9:56 mark, but the Phoenix went on a 20-5 run over the next 6:46 to separate itself from the Penguins.

YSU’s Brandi Brown led all scorers with 21 points and finished with 10 rebounds.   Kelsea Fickiesen, making her second career start, was next in line with nine points. She also had nine of YSU’s 28 turnovers, which Green Bay translated into a 33-5 edge in points off turnovers.

Lydia Bauer finished with 19 points, and Adrian Ritchie scored 17 points while making three of Green Bay’s eight triples.  YSU shot 45.2 percent overall, and Green Bay shot 49 percent. The Phoenix went 19-for-28 from the free-throw line while YSU was just 6-for-10.

The Penguins opened the second half on an 8-3 run to make the score 39-28 and force Green Bay to call an early time out. YSU still trailed just 56-40 with nine minutes left following a Brown bucket, but the Penguins scored just three points in the next six-and-a-half minutes. By that time, the Phoenix had built a 73-43 advantage.

Youngstown State will play at Milwaukee on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern. The game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN.