Penguins win in front of loud crowd

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Youngstown State’s Melinda Trimmer (14) defends Wednesday against Diamond Thomas of Penn State-Beaver. The Penguins won, 97-40, on school field trip day.

YOUNGSTOWN — McKenah Peters looked around and couldn’t believe the sights and sounds raining down upon her.

The LaGrange native remembers the times Keystone High School played Firelands and Elyria Catholic, how the Wildcats gymnasium would be raucous with students filling it with unbridled cheering.

Wednesday, she didn’t know if she trusted her instincts. You might say she was on sensory overload.

The majority of the 3,631 people in attendance were part of the annual school field trip game. This contest was against Penn State-Beaver, who succumbed to the Penguins, 97-40.

You could hear the young, enthusiastic children yelling with ear-piercing sounds. Combine each of the sections of area districts in attendance and you have noise pinballing around the Beeghly Center.

All those children responded with a loud, unified scream when prompted by the four-sided jumbo-tron and scoreboard dangling from the roof of the Beeghly Center.

Then there were chants of “YSU, YSU” echoing around the basketball venue.

Peters felt the ringing in her ears, which she struggled with in the postgame news conference. She did so with an emphatic smile.

Mary Dunn led a balanced attack of 13 players who scored, while Chelsea Olson added 10 for the Penguins (4-7). Brittany Jackson led Penn State-Beaver (5-7) with 24 points.

One player who didn’t score was Alison Smolinski. She played 3 minutes before driving to the basket and being fouled. Smolinski went down awkwardly on her left ankle and was helped off the floor. Melinda Trimmer shot her free throws as Smolinski went to the end of her team’s bench and medical personnel looked at her ankle. Smolinski was getting x-rays after the game.

“She was walking on it,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “The ankle felt pretty good. You never know what you’ll find on an x-ray.”

What YSU’s team found on Wednesday was a loud, but inviting atmosphere, exactly what a team needed after snapping a five-game losing streak on Saturday against Northern Arizona. That win was the beginning of a six-game homestand. The Penguins’ next game is Dec. 28 against Detroit.

Trimmer, who had 12 points for YSU off the bench, was battling a sore throat. She coughed and struggled to talk at the postgame news conference.

She tried to yell at her team during the game, which above the young, enthusiastic noise, was hard to do for raspy vocal chords which Trimmer struggled with all game.

“With a voice like this, it wasn’t that easy,” she said.

With her smile in front of the microphone, you knew losing a little bit more of her voice was all worth it.