CM girls recap: Lady Wildcats finish season winless but future looks bright

(EXPRESS FILE PHOTO) Central Mountain’s Mia Kopysciansky dribbles the basketball while Bellefonte’s Lily Gardner defends.

By SHAREIK FLOWERS

sflowers@lockhaven.com

MILL HALL- Records can be deceiving.

In back-to-back seasons the Central Mountain girls basketball team finished with an 0-22 record. But spectators of this year’s Wildcat campaign easily recognized the vast improvement of play, compared with the 2018’s rugged season.

The basketball team progressed in the right direction–and it’s evident by the stat sheet. In 2018 the offense mustered 549 points. That figure ballooned to 817 in 2019. And the defense reduced its points allowed by 112 points over the course of the two seasons.

Entering the year the Wildcats knew they possessed a difficult road ahead. Central Mountain’s youthfulness mandated the team ignore its record and focus its sight on grasping the game’s fundamentals.

“We did not get caught up on winning this year,” Central Mountain coach Scott Baker said. ” Our goal was to make sure that we were better each day, so we tried to win each day. That was really what we tried to do, and I felt that we did that.

“If you look at progress, in terms of competitiveness, that was really a goal and we started to become really competitive in a majority of our games during the latter part of the season.”

When reflecting on the season Baker acknowledged a large portion of its struggles were related to the girls’ young age. The team started four underclassmen, who naturally were unable to compete with their physically-mature upperclassmen opponents.

Also, CM’s turnover-problem plagued the team all season.

“We turned the ball over too much,” Baker explained. “One of the reasons for that was sloppy play at times, but the other part of it was the physicality part.”

The biggest positive he took from the season was the team’s commitment and buy-in of the coaches’ new scheme.

“After an 0-22 season the girls that are still coming back are still buying into the process,” Baker said. “The process now continues and we’re ready for step two of that process.”

DEPARTING SENIORS

Seniors Morgan Wetzel, Summer Flanagan and Katherine Burrows completed their high school basketball careers following a season-ending loss to Bellefonte.

The trio of basketball players have endured a lot of losing the past few seasons, but managed to anchor the team from a leadership-standpoint.

“Morgan, she got lots of minutes,” Baker said of Wetzel. “Summer and Katy had their spots when they had their opportunities, and they brought a good attitude every day.”

With the host of returning talent, Baker believes the three girls could be remembered as the senior class who helped rejuvenate the girls basketball program.

“We told them we would look at them in terms of not how many games they won, but as a group of three girls who hopefully we’ll be able to look back at someday and say ‘that was a senior class, who despite the fact they didn’t win any games their senior year, they were the beginning of the turning of the corner,'” Baker said.

UNDERCLASSMEN STARS

Freshman Mia Kopysciansky and sophomore Avery Baker played pivotal roles for CM this season, despite each having no varsity experience a year ago.

Kopysciansky, an 8th grade point guard a year ago, was CM’s floor general and finished third on the team with 6.6 points per game. Avery Baker, who last played two years ago as an 8th grade point guard, led CM with 37 three pointers and was second on the team with 8.2 points per game.

The duo, along with sophomores Alyssa Fisher and Quinlynn McCann, are anticipated to highlight a group of talented guards in 2020. Kopysciansky and Avery made the hurdle from 8th grade basketball to varsity starters– a difficult task they handled with maturity.

“You’re talking about taking that jump [to the varsity level] and that’s a huge jump,” Baker said. “It’s a big enough jump to go from junior high to senior high and play JV, let alone go right to varsity from the junior high level. So it was a challenge but they both accepted the challenge.”

Central Mountain returns four starters in Kopysciansky, Baker, Fisher and McCann. Retaining 80 percent of your starters in any sport bodes well for the future.

“It is nice to know you have a group coming back, and a solid foundation of girls coming back who have gone through a whole season of varsity basketball,” Baker said. “In all my years of coaching I would say there’s nothing at the high school level that replaces experience. I think that experience is going to serve them very well, as they mature with the experience.”

OFFSEASON WORKOUTS

As with high school athletics the upcoming offseason workouts are optional, but the CM coaching staff will provide the team with open gyms and the opportunity to engage in competitive play.

Given many of the girls are multi-sport athletes, it’ll be difficult to have fully-attended workouts. But Baker doesn’t mind the girls being receptive to their respective sports, as the coach knows better athletes equals more wins.

“Every event and every workout is not going to fit for every athlete, because we are fully committed to being supportive of the other sports because we believe athletes will ultimately win us games,” Baker explained. “We want to be supportive of those athletes playing the other sports because the other teams need those playing those other sports.”

BAKER’S FINAL MESSAGE TO THE 2019 TEAM

“We became more competitive when we began to close the gap against teams, but let’s not be satisfied with that,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to work and we’ve got to take that next step now, and that next step is knocking some teams off to start to become competitive with the really good teams.”

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