Lions Enjoy Strong Finish, Record-setting Season - Fall 2007 Ivy Leaf Magazine

Ivy Leaf - Fall 2007

Lions Enjoy Strong Finish, Record-setting Season

By Steve Crider

The Penn State Altoona men's basketball program enjoyed its most successful season in program history in 2006-2007, setting a school record for most victories in a season and qualifying for the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference playoffs for the first time. The Lions finished the year at 10-16 overall and 8-10 in the competitive AMCC. After earning the number six seed in the conference playoffs, Altoona bowed out to third seed Pitt-Bradford 61-49 to conclude the year.

"There is a transition from hoping you do well to knowing you're going to do well, and we think our program made that transition last season."
—Coach Alan Seretti

The Lions were led by four-year standout Tyler Franklin, who became Penn State Altoona's all-time leading scorer just three games into the season. He finished his illustrious career with 1,533 points and was selected as a first-team all conference performer in each of his final three seasons. At season's end, forward Quintin Dziabo joined Franklin on the AMCC all-star team as an honorable mention selection.

The 2006-2007 season certainly had its share of ups and downs. Through the first thirteen games, Altoona found itself at 2-11 overall and a disappointing 1-6 in conference play. During that time, the Lions lost their starting center, senior Barry Minemyer, to a broken arm. The lone non-conference win during that span, a 95-86 home victory over Division III powerhouse Lincoln University, garnered much attention and was considered the biggest win in Penn State Altoona athletics history. Just twelve days prior, Lincoln had set six NCAA Division III records in a 201-78 thumping of Ohio State Marion and many questioned the ethical behavior of the coach for "running up the score." Altoona dominated the visiting Lincoln Lions from start to end and fans stormed the court as the final buzzer sounded.

"The victory over Lincoln provided our team with a great deal of confidence for the second half of the season," states Seretti. "We knew that if we continued to work hard, positive results would follow."

Few would have predicted that a Monday evening home date with local rival Mount Aloysius at the season's halfway point would completely turn the tide. After downing the Mounties 90-81, the Lions would run off eight of their last eleven regular season games. As the squad raced down the home stretch, adversity struck again as Franklin, the squad's captain and leading scorer, suffered a season-ending knee injury with the Lions battling for playoff position.

"We really felt confident against anyone in the league during those last eleven games because we were working hard and sacrificing for each other," notes Seretti. "Losing Barry and Tyler to injury left us extremely disappointed not only because we were playing well in that stretch but because those two had earned the right to enjoy some success."

Franklin, Dziabo, and junior guard Colin Geiger averaged double digit scoring for Altoona. A talented group of nine freshmen loomed large in the overall success of the team, perhaps none more significant than point guard Zach Spitz, a newcomer who started all twenty-six games for the Lions and handed out eighty-three assists. Freshman Justin Gasbarre also played in every contest and saw more and more minutes as the season progressed. Against Pitt-Greensburg on February 15, he made the eventual game winning steal and subsequent free throw to get the Lions into the playoffs. Fourteen different players averaged at least seven minutes of floor time during the season.

While Franklin will be difficult to replace, the Lions should return ten lettermen for the 2007-2008 year. Factor in those players with a healthy crop of incoming freshmen and the probability of another record setting season with a trip to the AMCC playoffs seems eminent.