The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 24, 2013

UPJ women prep for WVIAC tourney

Mike Kovak
mkovak@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Pitt-Johnstown sophomore guard Kaitlynn Fratz was the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year a year ago and a first-team all-conference performer this season.

Post player Jasmine Harper, a 6-foot freshman from Cleveland, gives UPJ a second consecutive WVIAC Rookie of the Year and a solid presence off the bench on both ends of the court.

The influx of postseason accolades proves Pitt-Johnstown coach Sasha Palmer has some of the top young players in the conference on the roster, but it’s uncertain whether or not the youthful talent can carry the Lady Cats past more experienced teams in the WVIAC Tournament.

Eighth-seeded Pitt-Johnstown (14-11) makes its final WVIAC tournament appearance before joining the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference next season tonight against No. 9 Charleston (14-12) at the Sports Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“I’m still trying to figure out this team," Palmer said following Thursday’s overtime loss to West Liberty. “What we need is a verbal leader, someone to take charge vocally on the court. We are playing a lot of young players, so we’re getting experience.”

Pitt-Johnstown defeated Charleston, 83-69, on Feb. 9. In that game, Rachel Johnson, a 5-10 junior forward, finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Most games, Fratz has been the offensive engine for the Lady Cats.

An ultra-quick guard with shooting range and the ability to drive, Fratz averages a team-high 18.4 points and she ranks third in the WVIAC with three games of 30 points or more.

Fratz also leads UPJ in assists (103) and steals (46).

Recently, she’s received ample assistance from Nicole Carman, a 5-10 sophomore from Cleveland. Before Saturday’s regular-season ending loss to Seton Hill, Carman averaged 16.7 points in her previous seven games.

“She is coming on offensively,” Palmer said. “We need her more defensively, but the way she’s scoring, that's what we knew she had.”