Lyco men and women hope to build on playoff seasons
The past season for both of Lycoming’s basketball teams were filled with highs and lows. Both were also lined with postseason berths.
The journeys were different, but for a talented group of seniors on both teams, the final product left a lot of positives.
The women qualified for the postseason for the first time in a decade. Along the way, senior Racheal Scheller reached a goal she set four years ago as a freshmen.
“I feel like the program has finally made a turn for the better,” Scheller said. “It’s been 10 years since we made playoffs, and we gave the girls experience next year to come in and win the first round.”
The team definitely took a turn for the better as a talented group of freshmen, guided by veteran leaders like Scheller and Julia Antonelli, developed into main contributors. Antonelli also was named to the All-conference team.
Freshman Shannon Wheeler, Scheller’s eventual replacement, excelled as the season went on, and led the Warriors in scoring in three games. Olivia Manges, another freshman, finished with the second highest point total on the team with 213.
The men, on the other hand, nearly slipped after another dominate start to the season.
Lycoming opened with 11 wins in its first 12 games, but the Warriors only managed to win five of their final 13 games.
A double-overtime, 97-95, win against Hood in the Warriors’ season finale punched their ticket to the postseason.
Once in, Lycoming won its first-round contest, 80-78, at Albright to reach its second consecutive conference title game. Alvernia won the final, 78-68.
Although Lycoming fell a game short of winning the conference and reaching the NCAA Division III tournament, it was a season to remember as one of the Warrior’s best players completed a stellar four-year career.
Jerald Williams, who has totaled more than 100 assists in all four of his seasons with Lycoming, added a new dimension to his game as the season progressed.
Over his team’s final three games, which included two postseason contests, Williams led the team in rebounding in two.
To qualify for the postseason, Lycoming defeated Hood in double-overtime, and in the contest, Williams posted a season-high 12 rebounds. Despite being the shortest player on Lycoming’s roster, Williams handled himself in the paint, pulling down 125 boards for an average of 4.6 per game.
And it’s not just his ability to grab boards and dish out assists that will be hard to replace.
“It’s John Ryan (Wolff), Jerald and Ihsaan (Davis),” Rancourt said after the Alvernia game. “They came in together four years ago. As freshmen, they got to experience the NCAA tournament and a championship game. As juniors, they were able to and again as seniors. They’ve certainly created a level of success that we want to maintain.”
Williams was perfect for Rancourt’s fast-paced offense. He made players around him better, and, most importantly, he understood his role within the offense.
Williams led the team with 906 minutes through the course of the season. The next closest was Anthony Martin, who logged 741.
Even with the added time, Williams’ averages didn’t fall. He led the team with 268 assists, 92 steals, and was one of only five players to finish with more than 100 rebounds.
Martin, who led the Warriors with 464 points, joined the team as a junior, and immediately made an impact.
“Anthony Martin, the other senior, came in late and has just been a blessing for us offensively,” Rancourt said.
Martin led Lycoming in scoring in 13 games, including nine of its final 13 contests.
For their efforts, both Williams and Martin earned all-conference honors.
“I hope that our returners can learn from the wisdom and success that the seniors have had this past year,” Rancourt said.
Both groups of seniors will be missed. But as both players and coaches have said, the program is certainly in better shape going forward.