Women’s basketball prepares for sixth straight postseason appearance

Members of the 2018-19 Seton Hill University women’s basketball team pose for a team photo on campus. The Griffins clinched a playoff spot for the sixth year in a row this season after defeating the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown on Feb. 21. SHU will be competing in the first round of the PSAC Tournament on Monday, March 4. Photo by Mark Katarski.

For the sixth year in a row, the Seton Hill University women’s basketball team is headed to the postseason.

With their victory against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown on Feb. 21, the Griffins clinched a spot in the 2019 PSAC Tournament. The team finished the season with a record of 18-10 overall and 12-9 in conference play.

The Griffins officially clinched fourth place in the PSAC West with their victory against California University of Pennsylvania on Feb. 27. SHU will host the first game of the PSAC Tournament on Monday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

“You have to start with belief and an opportunity, and we have both of those,” said head coach Mark Katarski. “I think all our players believe that we can, and we have the opportunity to be in our tournament, and that’s the beautiful thing about it. One week could change everything and we could really make some memories, so hopefully our players make the most of this opportunity that they earned.”

Last season, the Griffins won their first PSAC playoff game against Gannon University. They were then eliminated by IUP in the second round.

“With any team, you just want to keep the team together as long as you can and extend your season as long as you can, because this team will never be the same again,” Katarski said.

The Griffins set multiple school records this season, including four in a single game. During SHU’s game against West Virginia State University on Dec. 14, the Griffins set new records for points (127), field goals made (46), three pointers made (17) and assists (36).

Individual players have also found success this season. Redshirt freshman Tiana Stewart was named PSAC West Freshman of the Week in December, and graduate transfer Megan Marecic was named PSAC West Women’s Basketball Athlete of the Week in January. Out of the 15 players on the team, Katarski said eight had never played a game at SHU before this season.

“I think that newness and uncertainty has been part of our charm this year, and I think that while we’ve had learning experiences, we’ve also had some great successes along the way,” Katarski said. “More than anything, the team has improved throughout the year and really taken each opportunity to learn and get better and grow, and that’s really what you want any season to be.”

Along with Marecic, Hannah Laslo is the only other senior on the team this season. Katarski said both players are the “absolute epitome of student-athletes.”

“They’re both just great examples of not only what this university is, where you can maximize your athletic and academic experience, but they’re also just representative of the college student-athlete experience in general,” Katarski said. “They both will leave an impact and a legacy for other players.”

After the departure of assistant coaches Paige Alviani and Miriam Justinger, the team also welcomed two new assistant coaches this year in Kelley Sundberg and Macey Hollenshead. Hollenshead is currently enrolled in the MBA program at SHU, and Sundberg was an assistant coach at Mansfield University for the past two seasons.

“Both of them have had great experiences and great backgrounds that have made me better as a coach,” Katarski said. “We’re really thankful for all they’ve done and excited that they’re part of our program now.”

The men’s basketball team also clinched a playoff spot after missing the postseason last year. The Griffins finished in sixth place in the PSAC West and will travel to play Mercyhurst University in the first round of the playoffs on March 4. The 2018-19 season was the first led by head coach Kendrick Saunders after the retirement of 15-year head coach Tony Morocco. The team finished the regular season 9-18 overall with a record of 7-14 in conference play. Individual players also found success this season, including junior Nathan Davis and senior Trevor Blondin, who each scored their 1000th career points.

As the women prepare for the postseason, Katarski said the team will focus on making the most of the opportunities they have in front of them.

“I would like to think that there are some things that have carried over from year to year with our teams, and I think this season showed that,” Katarski said. “But this season is also its own season, and its own team, and I think that this group certainly can stand alone and be proud.”

This article was updated after the publication of the Setonian’s March 2019 print magazine and contains new content.

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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