Archive for February, 2012
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. If the critics had their way, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball program would still be that thing after football season, Jerry Slocum would be collecting unemployment, and nobody should care. Five Horizon League Players of The Week later, the best conference finish since joining the Horizon, and a two-year contract extension for Slocum, YSU got to host a playoff game, and they played like they belonged. The Penguins got balance on offense in eliminating Green Bay and advancing to Valparaiso for the next round of this second season.
“We had a very good practice on Sunday after a very tough loss Saturday”, said Slocum. “I never saw them so locked in and told them after practice that I was very, very proud of them. You could feel it.”
The Penguins came out smoking hot, shooting 50% in the first half. Kendrick Perry and DuShawn Brooks had twelve points apiece in a very balanced scoring attack. Blake Allen contributed eight more points and picked up six assists as the home team marched out to a 45-34 halftime lead. Green Bay got 11 points from their 7’1″ center, Alec Brown. The Penguins lead was as big as 18 with 8:35 to go in the half, but Green Bay closed the margin when the Penguins finally cooled off a bit.
In the second half, the Penguins kept the big lead and were ahead 60-46 with 11:29 left in the game. Greg Mays hit a layup off of a rebound to keep the Phoenix afloat. Damian Eargle (above), who always plays like a true five in the body of a four, gathered an offensive board and tipped it in to give YSU a 62-49 lead with 9:46 remaining. With 7:36 left in the game, the Penguins were in control of the game with a 66-54 lead.
“I was definitely feeling it in the second half”, remarked Eargle. “We were definitely pumped up for this game and think we can go deep into this tournament.”
Eargle would score six points in a row for the ‘Guins, four off of offensive rebounds. he then tipped an inbounds pass and had Green Bay reeling, almost singlehandedly, over a five minute stretch of the second half. It then turned into KP Time, as Perry glided to the hoop, hung in the air to draw contact and then casually flipped the ball in for two. Perry hit the free throw to complete the conventional three-point play that gave the Penguins a 71-54 lead with 4:54 remaining in the contest.
From the 4:24 mark on, YSU could concentrate on some clock-killing skills, holding a luxurious 17 point lead, which also ended up being the winning margin.
The Penguins (16-14, 1-0 HL Tourney) got a mammoth effort from Eargle. The sophomore from Waren finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and an assist for good measure. Brooks played well and tacked on 16 points. Allen finished the game with 15 points and 7 assists. Perry had 15 more points for the Penguins.
Green Bay finishes their season with a 15-15 record. Brown had 20 points to lead the Phoneix.
Next up for YSU is a rematch with Detroit. The Penguins will face the Titans in the early game of a doubleheader at Valparaiso Friday evening. The two teams split wins in a couple of tightly contested games during the regular season.
Youngstown State sophomore Kendrick Perry (Ocoee, Fla) was named to the All-Horizon League First Team in a vote by the league’s head coaches, sports information directors and selected media, the league announced on Monday.
Sophomore Damian Eargle (Youngstown, Ohio) was voted to the Horizon League All-Defensive Team by the head coaches.
Perry (above) is just the second player from Youngstown State to earn first-team accolades and the first since Quin Humphrey in 2006-07 and 2005-06. He is also the first sophomore in school history to be named first-team all-league.
The Horizon League Player of the Week for Feb. 6, Perry is just the fifth player in Horizon League history to lead the league in scoring (16.8 ppg) and steals (2.4 spg) during conference play and he led the league in all-games scoring with 16.8 points per game. He also led the league with a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio and ranked second in steals (2.4), tied for third in assists (3.9) and tied for 10th with 1.8 3-pointers made per game.
Over the last nine games of the season, Perry averaged 22.8 points 2.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.9 steals per game while shooting at a 57.6 percent clip from the field. He also connected on 44.9 percent of his 3-point attempts and shot 79.7 percent from the free-throw line. Also during that span, Perry scored at least 20 points seven times, including a career-high 30 points against Milwaukee on Jan. 31.
Eargle, who was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on Jan. 2, set the Horizon League all games and conference-games only single-season blocks record with 113 and 65, respectively. He also set the Horizon League career blocks record in conference play with 122.
This season, Eargle, who ranks third nationally with 3.9 blocks per game, collected at least one block in the first 28 games, posted multiple blocks in 24 of 29 games and swatted at least three blocks in 23 games.
Eargle, a 2010-11 Horizon League All-Newcomer Team selection, also averaged 10.4 points per game and ranked third in the league with 7.4 rebounds per game.
The thing that is most different about the 2011-12 Lowellville Girls basketball squad is that they will make a tournament run while having everyone healthy. The Rockets, ignored by the polls until recent weeks, are playing with a sense of confidence not often found at the high school level. Tony Matisi is the driving force behind a program that has defied the “small school” image. Matisi has built a program that keeps winning and deserves credit for his accomplishments.
Those accomplishments are plentiful. Matisi has gold stars on his resume through a 14-year tenure that has seen his teams record 20 wins in seven of their last eight seasons. He has recently retired as a Youngstown State maintenance employee, but says that he plans on doing this basketball gig a few more years. Who wouldn’t? This is a program that has succeeded for so long that girls coming up through the system wait for their chance to be a part of something positive and contagious.
Everyone knows about the firepower that this team possesses. Taylor Hvisdak, Emily Carlson, and Ashley Moore are all new members into the 1,000 point club, and all three Lady Rockets achieved the fete this season. Rachel Durbin, Kaye Solak, and Madison Opritza have all played a role in this magical season too.
“From a coaching standpoint, when we look at a team we will be playing, we see one really good player and four role players”, said Matisi. “When teams look at us, we have three thousand-point scorers on the floor at the same time, and the other two can score too.”
The one thing, besides injuries, that has hampered the Rockets on recent playoff runs has been decisive height disadvantages. Matisi commented on how this team will handle a size mismatch problem this season.
“The size mismatches were a fear until we played a very good Canfield team. We were afraid of their big girl dominating the middle. The job that Rachel [Durbin] did and the defense we used against that sort of player worked well. The confidence we took away from that game cannot be measured and will help us as we get deeper in the playoffs.”
In that Canfield game, the Rockets had a lead as big as 24, in the third quarter. They eventually won by much less, but Matisi took his foot off of the gas and Canfield’s Coach Pavlansky used some pressure to force uptempo while the Rockets milked the clock.
To call a coach a ‘Class Act’ is one of the highest compliments you could pay them. Matisi defines what a class act is. Countless times all season with the game usually decided at halftime, the Rocket coach has emptied the bench for at least the fourth quarter, not only to avoid injury and to get the younger players some quality minutes, but because he isn’t out to make any team look bad.
Matisi talked about how last year’s run was cut short by injury. “Last year at the district semis, Taylor went down and wasn’t coming back. We were scrambling around trying to fix something right at that moment, and that is hard to do. It effects the girls on the floor more than it does the coaches on the bench. I just want the chance to go as deep into this thing as we can while healthy. If we get beat, so be it, as long as we lose with everyone able to play.”
It is a hard level of success to continually attain, but Matisi has done it. In fact, he has probably done it better since 2000 than any other coach in the Mahoning Valley. He loves the fact that the younger girls will watch the upperclassmen on the floor and wait their turn. It is a natural feeder system that he refines every year. It’s nice to have talent, but it is nicer when good talent gets superb coaching.
When I asked Kaitlyn Griffith where she called home, she replied, “Orrville, you know, Bobby Knight”. If she performs as well as she did at the Horizon League Indoor Track Meet, Bobby Knight might tell people he is from Orrville too, “you know, Kaitlyn Griffith“. The senior from Orrville dominated both weight events and nabbed a couple of first place trophies to play a big role in the Penguins second place finish.
“The home field advantage was nice”, said Griffith. “It is a plus to have friends and family here and we are used to practicing in the same ring that we threw out of. It was a big advantage to now have the WATTS.”
Griffith swept the throwing events by winning the shot on Sunday. In the shot she ran away with the title with a throw of 14.60 meters. On Saturday, she threw a personal-best 18.17m to capture the weight throw title. Her mark is the third-longest throw in school history.
“Track and Field has been sort of pushed out at YSU in the past”, remarked Griffith, “but today it was really nice to look around and see other athletes – football and basketball players, soccer players, and others, come here to support us.”
Griffith who fared well in last year’s outdoor meet, is going to lock in and focus on the 2012 version, which will be her finale in a Penguins uniform. Expect a great finish to a solid career for Griffith.
Youngstown State University had learned that they had clinched a home playoff game, but wanted to roll into that contest with momentum. Standing in the way of the Penguins to accomplish that fete were the Detroit Titans. The Titans brought their A game and handed the Penguins a 76-74 loss to end the regular season.
In the first half, the Penguins started fast but as the game went, seemingly so did the momentum. The Penguins had a five point lead with 15:03 left to play in the first half. By the time the buzzer sounded to signify the end of the opening stanza, it was Detroit that held a 36-32 lead. The Titans got 11 points out of Ray McCallum and nine more from Chase Simon. The Penguins got a good half out of Blake Allen who had ten first-half points. Detroit created some matchup problems in the paint for the Penguins using an extreme size advantage in the paint.
The second half saw Detroit start strong and continue dominating the inside. The Penguins were down ten with about ten to play, then cut it to down five with five to play. Kendrick Perry kept penetrating in the last few minutes of the game and drawing contact. Two Perry free throws shrunk the lead to two with a minute to play, but the Penguins would get no closer.
YSU (15-15, 10-9) got 23 from Perry and DuShawn Brooks and Allen had 13 points each. Damian Eargle had 11 points to go with seven rebounds but failed to block a shot for YSU.
Detroit (19-13, 12-7) is a very big and physical team that could make some noise in the tournament. The Titans got 18 from Chase, 15 from McCallum and are tough to beat, as any team would be, shooting 55% from the field.
Brooks and Ashen Ward were honored as the seniors playing in their last home game before this one tipped off. They will have another home game anyway when they host a first round tournament game on Tuesday.
Senior Haley Thomas went 3-for-4 and junior Hana Somogyi picked up her first victory of the season as the Youngstown State softball team defeated North Carolina A&T, 11-3, on Friday afternoon. The Penguins also lost to Utah Valley, 8-0. The Guins improve to 3-2 on the season and will take on Marist, Saturday, at 2 p.m.
Somogyi scattered eight hits and allowed just two earned runs while striking out a season-high eight batters with zero walks.
Senior Jordan Ingalls went 1-for-3 with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning and scored twice while junior Vicky Rumph went 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
Sophomore Haley Knight also doubled in two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to end the game.
The Guins also take on Western Carolina, Sunday, at 9.am.
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team will host a first-round Horizon League playoff game on Tuesday night against a yet-to-be-named opponent. The opponent will depend on Saturday’s Horizon results. It will mark the first time since joining the Horizon League that the Penguins are afforded the luxury of playing a postseason game at the Beeghly Center.
Tickets for the Tuesday game are already on sale and Rick Love, YSU Director of Marketing, said that the ticket office will remain open an hour after the Saturday game against Detroit. Tickets can also be purchased at the YSU Ticket Office on Sunday between 1-5 p.m., Monday from 9-7, and Tuesday from 9-5.
Tickets will cost $12 for Reserved Chairback seating. Youth Chairback reserved seating is $6 per ticket. Adult General Admission is $8 and Youth General Admission is $4. YSU Students can get a free ticket with proof of enrollment. If more information is needed for tickets, call the ticket office at 330-941-1YSU.
Penguin Club members and YSU Season Ticket holders have until 7 p.m. Monday to renew their existing tickets for the tournament game and to purchase any additional tickets.
If YSU were to win, they would travel to Valparaiso, winners of the regular season championship, for the next two rounds. The Horizon League Championship game will be played on Tuesday, March 6 at the home of the highest remaining seed in the tournament.
Had Detroit beaten Valpo Thursday, the Penguins Saturday game against Detroit would have been for a two-seed.
Wright State used runs of 10-0 and 13-0 in the second half to pull away and defeat the Youngstown State women’s basketball team 84-62 on Thursday evening at the Nutter Center.
After 14 lead changes and nine ties in the first half, Wright State led the entire second half and outscored the Penguins 43-23. That included an 18-5 edge in the final six minutes.
The Raiders, who improved to 18-9 overall and 11-4 in Horizon League play, had three players reach the 20-point plateau. Courtney Boyd led all scorers with 24 points while Kim Demmings had 22 and Molly Fox posted 20. Brandi Brown led YSU with 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Heidi Schlegel added 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
YSU trailed just 52-48 with 15 minutes left, and the Penguins had a turnover in transition that seemed to jump-start the Raiders. Wright State scored the next 10 points, the final six of which were on back-to-back 3-pointers from Boyd, to go up 62-48.
Brown scored the next five points to cut the margin to nine, and YSU still trailed just 66-57 with under six minutes left. That’s when the Raiders scored 13 straight points to take a 79-57 with 2:43 remaining. Schlegel’s bucket at the 1:57 mark ended a five-and-a-half minute scoring drought for the Penguins.
Wright State did not have a field goal for nearly five minutes in the second half, but YSU was only able to score four points in that stretch and did not trim anything off the deficit.
After a back-and-forth first half, Wright State made four free throws in the final minute to take a 41-39 lead at halftime.
Wright State scored the first six points of the game, and that was its largest lead of the opening period. YSU scored the next five points, and Kenya Middlebrooks‘ third triple in the first five minutes gave YSU its first lead at 11-9. Wright State did not lead by more than two the remainder of the period.
YSU’s largest lead came at 30-25 with 5:34 remaining following a 7-0 run. Devan Matkin started the run with a 3-pointer, her second of the half, while Kelsea Fickiesen and Brown both had two points. Wright State scored the next five points to tie the score for the fifth time at the 4:55 mark, and neither team led by more than two the rest of the period.
Boyd had 15 points in the first half, which was nearly seven above her average coming into the game. Schlegel and Middlebrooks had nine apiece for YSU, which hit seven triples in the first 20 minutes.
YSU finished with 10 3-pointers in 30 attempts, which included a 3-for-18 effort from distance in the second half. Wright State outshot the Penguins 45.5 percent to 34.4 percent.
YSU will stay on the road and play at Detroit on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO.
*Story courtesy of YSU Sports Information, John Vogel.
When Youngstown State played Wright State the first time this season, the Raiders came away with a 63-62 thriller that the Penguins were ahead by 15 in and thought they should have won. Furthermore, the Penguins had lost their last nine to Wright State. The Penguins got a great game out of Kendrick Perry who collected 23 points in a 61-54 win. The Penguins solidified their chances of a home game in the first round of the Horizon League playoffs with the triumph.
“We knew Wright State was capable”, said Perry. “We were up 15 at their place and lost. This time we kept our foot on the gas and stayed hungry.”
Things are very different this season. After Damian Eargle missed the front end of a one-and-one at a crucial time late in the second half, Penguin Coach, Jerry Slocum, clapped and encouraged Eargle to put it behind him and keep battling. The Penguins made a defensive stop and scored the next time up the court.
In the first half, the Penguins and Raiders both looked a little sluggish on offense or decent on defense, just depends on how you want to perceive it. Neither team shot better than 40% from the floor and nobody had a lead larger than four points. Kendrick Perry had nine points to lead the Penguins in scoring. Damian Eargle had three blocks to build on his league-lead to go with six first-half points. Wright State was paced by Kendall Griffin who had nine and Vance Hall contributed eight more as the Raiders took a 29-27 lead at the break.
“In the first half, quite frankly, we made some coaching errors”, said Slocum. “We doubled the post and shouldn’t of. Our guys were able to battle back and made some really big stops in the second half. Our defense created offensive chances for us.”
KP (above) took over early in the second half with a couple of threes, a fast-break layup-and-one, and a steal to punctuate YSU opening the second half with a 16-5 run to open a 45-34 lead with 15:01 remaining. A DuShawn Brooks baseline drive and a nice feed from Ashen Ward to Blake Allen pushed the lead to ten points at 49-39 with 12:18 left to play.
Wright State cut the lead to 49-42 on a tip-in with 8:03 remaining forcing Coach Slocum to burn a quick timeout to regroup. Reggie Arceneaux hit a three to pull Wright State within four at 51-47, but Eargle hit a dunk and then a pair of free throws to give YSU a 55-47 lead with 5:41 to play. Allen got a nice feed on a Perry steal and layed it in to put the ‘Guins back up by 10 with 5:07 left in the game.
Wright State wouldn’t go away as Arceneaux hit a pair of charity tosses with 3:37 left to cut the YSU lead to 57-53. Perry stayed hot nailing a pair of free throws to keep YSU ahead comfortably at 61-54 with 30 seconds to play.
The Penguins improved to 15-13 and 10-7 in the Horizon League. With that tenth league win, YSU has their highest Horizon League win total ever. Perry looked like a player-of-the-year candidate from wire to wire in this one. The sophomore finished the game with 23 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 rebounds. Eargle big again finishing with 8 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
The five blocked shots by Eargle set a couple of records. His 113 on the season are a single-season record. His 65 in Horizon League play mark a new conference record.
Coach Slocum commented on Eargle’s fete. “Damian has had a tremendous year for us on the defensive end. It is not something that we can coach. It is just natural God-given ability and his timing is unreal. Every time a game is tight, he has an ability to come up with a big block for us.”
Wright State got 13 points from Hall and another 9 from Griffin. Probable Horizon League Newcomer-of-The -Year Julius Mays finished the contest with 7. The Raiders dropped to 13-17 and 7-10 in the Horizon.
He can jump, he can shoot, he can dunk, and he can ball. He’s Kendrick Perry, one of the reasons that Youngstown State’s basketball team has turned a corner this season. Perry has another gear, the ability to change his motion in mid-air, and is a very exciting and talented commodity. The strangest thing about the sophomore guard from Florida is the fact that he remains humble. He plays on a team with guys he considers his family. He is the best guard in the Horizon League and is inching closer to Player of The Year possibilities with each game on a team that remains hungry.
Paneech: What steps were taken to get you here from Florida?
Perry: In high school, my coach at that time, mentioned Youngstown State. At the time, I had my mind set on Florida or Florida State, some of the bigger schools. Throughout high school, YSU stayed with me and kept me on their radar. Before my senior year of high school started, I went on my visit and committed before the season started. Coach Wernicki and Coach Slocum were the two main guys that were instrumental in recruiting me.
Paneech: You are losing a couple of guys when this season is over in Ashen Ward and DuShawn Brooks. What have you learned from them?
Perry: I have learned a lot from them. Ash has shown great leadership both on and off the court. First one in the gym and the last one to leave. He does all of the talking and the little things that make us a better team. I can take that from him. DB gives us a good spark when we need it. Whether it is offensive rebounds, making the right pass, or just making shots, he has been a spark in big games when we need it. Ash is my best friend on the team. He took me under his wing when I was recruited and made me his little brother.
Paneech: You had some losses you maybe should have won this season. Which of those would you take back and do over if you could?
Perry: That’s a tough one. I really can’t just pick one because there are more than one of those games where we beat ourselves. If I had to pick one though, I would say the UIC game or the Butler game. Every game counts as much as the next and they are losses. The important thing is that we have grown from those games.
Paneech: Coach Slocum and the staff have my respect because of the way they work you guys. When you are around him so much, do you get used to his style?
Perry: I don’t think it is really that hard. It takes some time to adjust. Nobody wants to make a mistake, but we are all human and we all make mistakes. Coach Slocum will let you know two different ways – and if you make the same mistake again, be ready for it because he will get on you for it. As a person, he does his best to make sure that everyone is in tune. Some guys he talks lightly to, others he can be more aggressive with. He knows when he does that, he is sending the message to get in tune, to be more focused and play better as a team.
Paneech: You are losing a couple of good players, and this season is not over yet, by any means. Take a gander forward and tell me what to expect next season.
Perry: I see a lot of guys coming back and trying to get better. Shawn [Amiker] has really improved, Josh [Chojnacki] and Fletch [Fletcher Larson] have gotten better, and Mike Podolsky has probably shown the most improvement along with DJ [Cole]. Ash and DB give us a lot and we are going to need guys to step up and fill those roles. I think we have a good recruiting class coming in too. It’s a bunch of hungry guys who want to get better.
Paneech: I will always remember last year at Akron. You drove a crowded lane and dunked over a much bigger player. Do you envision your finish when driving or do you create once you leave the ground?
Perry: I think it is just natural God-given ability. I try to have the mindset to play aggressively each game. What goes through my mind trickles its way through my whole body, so it is a mental thing. My athleticism catches people off-guard. If I am getting chased on a fast break, the person chasing me is thinking about getting an easy block. Most of the time it isn’t. I like that underdog feeling, where I can rise up and use an extra spurt of confidence to get it done.
Paneech: Big difference between Youngstown and Florida. Besides the weather, what is different here?
Perry: The biggest thing would probably be a car, honestly. In Florida, I have a car, whereas here, I have to rely on guys who have cars to get me places. It seems like I am eating Taco Bell or McDonalds every day when I can’t get a ride out. It is a different culture but it is diverse like Florida, young and old, different races.
Paneech: So you get in the car with a friend and head toward Boardman. Where are you going to eat?
Perry: (laughs) That would depend on how much money I have in my pockets. I have $50, we are going to the Springfield Grill or Red Lobster. If I have $5, we are going to Burger King or McDonalds, I’m not that picky of an eater. That $5 will get me a 20 piece chicken nuggets and extra barbecue sauce. It’s a sacrifice (laughs), a sacrifice I gotta make. When I came on my visit though, I had Niccolini’s, and that was really good and when I helped recruit DJ, I had Springfield Grill, so its about 50/50 on those two places.
Paneech: If not basketball, what sport would Kendrick Perry be playing?
Perry: Soccer. Definitely. My brother plays professionally for the Columbus Crew. Growing up, it was soccer or basketball for both of us. He stuck with soccer, and it got him somewhere he wanted to be. I stuck with basketball and so far, I am where I want to be.
Paneech: Does your family get to some of the games?
Perry: Yeah, they try. They came to Samford for the opener last year. My mother does a good job of following our games and always is able to find a feed online whether it be the Horizon League Network or the opposing teams site, she will find it. She always tells me about what she saw me do after the games, and they really do a good job staying on top of it.
Paneech: Is this home now or are you on the first bus back to Florida when you graduate?
Perry: I have definitely made a lot of friends and connections here. That snow though? I can’t take that… I would rather deal with the 55 degrees in Florida over the 25 degrees here. I could see myself being here because of all of the relationships I have made while I was here. It’s all different though when you look at college. You have to learn better time management. A teacher can tell you that you have a 20 page paper due at the beginning of the semester, and you have to be on top of what you are trying to do within your classes.
Paneech: NBA. Florida. Heat fan?
Perry: I do like the Heat. I grew up in Orlando, so I have this love-hate thing for the Magic. My go-to team is the Oklahoma City Thunder and Durant and Westbrook. I like their athleticism, they are young, and they bring the energy. They are a very dangerous team and I like watching them. Lebron is probably the next Jordan, but I don’t think he will ever come back to Cleveland. He can win multiple championships with his best friend Wade and the talent they have.
Paneech: If there are no sports on television, what are you watching?
Perry: I watch cartoons, I’m not gonna lie. Not Sponge Bob and all that. I watch the Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad. My favorite cartoon though, is called Archer. It’s a spy cartoon, me and my brother call each other and talk about it and joke about the lines.
Paneech: Who is a bigger team jokester, Eargle or Burkey?
Perry: (laughs) Ohhh, that’s a tough one. I would say Damian, because it is non-stop with him. Burkey knows how to turn it on and turn it off. With Damian though, it’s just non-stop, 24/7, first thing in the morning until the end of the day.
One Word Answers
Favorite Color: Red.
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: Lucky Charms.
Favorite Drink After The Game: Red Gatorade.
Favorite Movie: He’s Got Game.
Song On Your ipod That Nobody Would Expect: Jill Scott, some of that soulful stuff from my mother.
Sport To Watch: Football.
Favorite Snack Food: I could go on for days… picking one – Fruit Roll-Ups, any flavor.
Biggest Phobia: Lizards.
Worst Habit: Cracking My Knuckles.
“I will stay with the sport of basketball and I am going to keep going until I can’t play anymore. Hopefully, the good college education I am receiving will line up the next part of my life and new career.”