CENTRAL MOUNTAIN SPORTS WEEK-IN-REVIEW: Boys hoops wins PHAC DI crown, heartbreak for girls and wrestling

Senior guard Matthew Storeman (4) of Central Mountain High School passes the ball in the air during high school boy’s basketball action on Saturday night against Midd-West High School. (The Express/Tim Weight)

MILL HALL — Despite losing a day of competition last week (Tuesday) due to Mother Nature, there was plenty of local sports action on the agenda. The Boy’s Basketball team was very busy and all other Central Mountain teams were in action at least twice.

Head Boy’s Basketball Coach, Tyler Bardo, took his team on the road to Altoona on Monday night to face a Mountain Lion squad that has had its share of struggles this season. Nonetheless, Bardo and his squad knew that it would be a contest that they would need to play well to come home with a win. That is exactly what they did as four players led by Matthew Storeman with 18 points hit double figures. The Cats were then back in league action on Wednesday evening as they hosted Selinsgrove in a PHAC Division I match-up. In the early going, it was a nightmare for CM as they lost senior leader Trevor Hanna to a knee injury and subsequently trailed 20-4 at the end of the first quarter of play. Fortunately though, the Wildcats didn’t panic and they regrouped to slowly chip away at the Seals’ lead and were able to come all the way back for a hard fought 64-53 win. The next night, Coach Bardo’s squad was back at it as they hosted the Warriors from Montoursville. The Cats seemed to lack some of the energy that followers are accustomed to seeing from them and the Warriors did an effective job of controlling the tempo as they defeated the Wildcats by a 58-45 score in PHAC cross over action. Little doubt that CM was a little disappointed by the loss, but they knew that a win on Saturday night would give them the PHAC Division I crown and a guaranteed spot in the conference tournament sometime next week. Saturday night’s contest was against a Midd-West team that just plain struggles and has for a number of years now. On Saturday night with a championship on the line, it’s not a stretch to say that the game was over before it started. The Cats used a liberal substitution pattern throughout and destroyed their visitors to the tune of 77-14. Coach Bardo commented on his team’s busy week, “The week was one of development and adjustment for our team. We saw four games that each presented new challenges. I’m very proud of our guys’ mentality and collective work.”

Originally the boys were scheduled to travel to Huntingdon tonight to take on the Bearcats. However, Huntingdon’s wrestlers placed second in the PIAA District VI AA team duals on Saturday and won the right to host a match tonight to qualify for the state tournament, and therefore the basketball game had to be rescheduled. The tentative make-up date for that is Friday, February 16th. So, the Wildcats will now prepare to host Mifflin County on Wednesday before a big senior night contest on Friday versus Loyalsock. The Cats will finish the week by traveling to Mifflinburg for a make-up contest on Saturday night. That back-to-back will be another huge challenge for the CM hoopsters. Coach Bardo said this about the week ahead, “This week will bring three very competitive games. It will be nice to get some practices and take advantage of these players’ willingness to learn and get better.”

The girls were in action on Monday when they traveled to Tyrone for a non-league match-up. The night was one to forget as they got battered 77-33. As has been the case on too many occasions this season for the Lady Cats, a slow start led to the lopsided score. They trailed in this contest, 26-4, at the end of one period. The ladies were then set to host league foe Shikellamy on Tuesday, but Mother Nature had different ideas. On Friday night, head coach Terrance Green took his team on the road to Midd-West with a fairly realistic opportunity to finally hit the win column. Midd-West entered the contest with a 1-6 record since defeating the Lady Cats earlier in the season. Unfortunately though, while the Lady Cats kept the game competitive throughout, the Mustangs were able to secure a close 52-45 win over the still winless CM ladies. The game did present a few positive signs for CM. First, they won a quarter, the 3rd by a 17-15 score. Second, they tallied their highest point total for the season (45). Third, they had two players hit double figures in the contest, Taylor Fletcher with 14 points and Marissa Moyer with 11. For his part, Green had this to say, “We lost an absolute heartbreaker at Midd-West. Best game we’ve played all around this season. We were engaged the entire game. Our girls faced some adversity that was out of our control. I was very proud of them for staying poised and controlled throughout it all. Definite sign of growth. They kept battling all night, even with the odds against us. We did not shoot very well from the free throw line (4-11) and missed some easy scores throughout the game that we needed to convert. This one is definitely a tough one to swallow, but a game I truly believe will make us better and a great learning experience for our girls. On the positive side, we scored our season high in points (45) and held their best player (Rachel Teats) to nine points.”

The girls, still winless on the season at 0-17, are running short on opportunities to break the streak. However, they will get three chances to do it this week. They host Shikellamy in a make-up game tonight. The game is designated as a Pink-Out for Cancer awareness. On Tuesday, they will hit the road to Shamokin. Both Shikellamy and Shamokin defeated the Lady Cats rather handily earlier in the season. Can the CM ladies find a little payback? On Thursday, the ladies will travel to Williamsport to take on the Lady Millionaires to finish up their three games in four days week. All that will remain after this week is a home-and-home series with Bellefonte that will likely offer Coach Green and his team the best chances to avoid a winless season.

The wrestling team began the week with an away home match against Bellefonte. Away home? Well, yes. The match was hosted by the CM athletic department, but was held at Bucktail High School as a special recognition for the several members of the CM squad that are Bucktail students. The Wildcats rolled over Bellefonte in the Monday night contest by a score of 50-15. For the remainder of the week, the Cats prepared for a third meeting with the Mifflin County Huskies in the first round of the District VI AAA team duals held at Tyrone HS on Saturday afternoon. Most local wrestling fans were likely anticipating a CM and BEA final as the Wildcats entered the contest having defeated Mifflin County in the two previous meetings by almost identical scores. Both times, the Wildcats had defeated the Huskies by 20-plus points. However, on Saturday afternoon, things were unfortunately different. The two teams went at it match-for-match. When the 14 weight classes were completed, the score stood at 35 all. The district committee was forced to check the tie-breaker scenarios and as a result it was Mifflin County that was awarded the tie break point and thus the dual meet by a 36-35 score. Mifflin County then went on to defeat BEA for the District VI AAA team duals championship. The result of the day was a sure heart breaker for the Wildcats and their faithful. However, one has to wonder if such a loss at this point in the season can be turned into motivation for Coach Biff Walizer’s squad as they prepare for further post season competition? Will it provide Walizer and his very competent staff the opportunity to push their wrestlers a little extra as they prepare for the time of year that the Wildcats traditionally have excelled? Only time will tell, but I’d be willing to bet there will be a little added motivation and energy from the Cats the rest of the way. Pride runs deep in the Wildcats program and not gaining a chance to compete in the state team duals this weekend in Hershey will likely not sit well with many inside “the room.”

The swimmers were in action twice last week. On Wednesday, they traveled to Shamokin where they were joined by Lewisburg for a tri-meet. The Cats dropped both meets, but Coach Carol Matheney cited the performance of two freshmen, “Caitlyn Dale dropped six seconds from a 3:14 to a 3:08.49 in her 200 IM this week and Parker Orndorf had a thrilling 100 freestyle in his leg of the 400 free relay vs. Lewisburg that was his personal best.”

On Friday night, the swimmers hosted Mount Carmel in a senior night event in the Lock Haven University Zimmerli Gymnasium pool. Coach Matheney commented on the meet, “We honored our seniors on Friday night against Mount Carmel. Both the girls and the boys won their meet. Mount Carmel has very small teams. Our swim team will be graduating five girls and four boys. Senior Shae Cole did two long events for his senior sendoff, 200 IM and 500 free along with two relay appearances. He really gave it up by having an asthma attack but recovered and pulled out four very nice swims. Sophomore Derek Hughes also swam his best times in the 200 IM (2:25.08) and 100 butterfly (1:04.59).”

Up this week for the people of the pool will be Bellefonte and Penns Valley whom they will host on Wednesday at LHU.

Okay, here we go. No drumroll for team of the week needed this time around. With the wrestlers getting upset and the girls hoopsters winless streak continuing, the boy’s basketball team with their three out of four week which included locking up a division crown, takes team of the week honors. The challenge is still out there for the girls. Win a game and the honor is yours. Until next week, be Wildcat proud!