Lady Wildcats improved but still unsatisfied
By: AARON JAMES
The Central Mountain girls basketball team finished the 2019-2020 basketball season shy of a playoff appearance and with a record of 6-16. While on the surface to many that may look like a underachieving season, the reality is the Wildcat girls are on pace and improving more rapidly than could’ve ever been anticipated.
This Central Mountain Wildcat program was coming off two consecutive winless seasons, plus some. 48 straight games the Wildcats went without a win, including one season with current Head Coach Scott Baker who is incorporating his own version of ‘The Process’ into his program.
“Generally speaking i thought we were successful, we learned how to be competitive in the vast majority of our games this year” Head Coach Scott Baker said of his general thought of how this basketball season went.
The Wildcats started the year off with two consecutive wins something which seemed unprecedented in recent memory for the program. The Wildcats will return all of their man starters from this season, bolstering hopes and improvements heading into the next phase of regaining notoriety.
“I really thought the first year was about trying to make it look like basketball, get small things together. This year we wanted to start winning some games and closing some gaps on teams that beat us up pretty bad in the past, and winning games we thought we should be able to win” Baker said. “6-16 would look a whole lot different when you see we had nine other games decided by single digits. We had a good number of games where we even had leads at halftime and weren’t able to hold on. It’s all part of learning how to win on a consistent basis and close it up”.
The Wildcats lost nine games by a defecit of single digits. This is a program which just two short seasons ago was losing games by an average defecit of 39 points per loss before Baker returned to take the reigns back and start working towards relevancy again.
Baker has emphasized the offseason program, and working towards a common goal throughout his past two seasons at the helm.
“We’ve talked about it from day one two summers ago, we talked about how important the offseason is. We have a group starting to understand that a little better, and we’ll continue that conversation. They understand that offseasons are very important and we’ll do summer leagues and things like that” Baker said.
Keeping teenagers focused and motivated may be tough enough in itself, then to add in the fact that for two consecutive seasons some of these players weren’t able to experience a win makes the whole picture of what Baker, his staff, and players have done this season look even more majestic. Baker has been able to convince his team to buy in to the work ethic, and the drive to earn the results desired and during this 2020 basketball season they all were able to begin to watch it come to fruition.
“What we try to stress to them is just how close we are. I Keep going back to the little things that are necessary to become a playoff team, to beat the good teams. We try to convince them and we’ve had opportunities to be able to show them a play here and a play there to show them working hard this off season will allow you to get over the hump and win those games next year” Baker added.
Soon to be Seniors in Quinlynn McCann, Avery Baker, and Alyssa Fischer will now have the opportunity to leave the program in a better state than they entered it just three seasons ago. The three leading scorers will return motivated, hungry and ready to make the long desired playoff appearance they have desired since putting on that Wildcat jersey.
“They’re doing what we’re asking them to do. They don’t reject why are we doing this, they understand what we’ve been asking them to leads to where we are. They are seeing the progress. We have our top six and some girls coming from JV that are extremely aggressive and coachable coming back. We’re getting ready to put together a good solid group that is ready to win. We’re looking forward to the opportunity” their coach said looking forward. “We feel like we have a group of girls that are really really close to being really really good. There’s those little things that make the different between being average and being good. Those few little things were the difference between 6 wins and 11 wins this year”.
Baker has praised his young team for trusting and buying into his methods and working together to achieve the common goal that has been long awaited for a program stuck at the bottom of the barrel in recent memory. Now while some programs may end their season and enjoy leisure time Baker and his team are prepped to work their tails off in the coming months and continue shocking their conference and making sure they aren’t viewed as an easy win and more so a top competitor.
“We try to take it one day, one player, one game at a time and look at the big picture. We told them from the beginning it would be a process. I do believe this offseason is extremely important in that process and were set up to have a really good year next year but again there’s no guarantees in that, you have to work” Baker added.
Two and one quarters of a season of straight losses, has turned into six wins and gut wrenching losses in just one season. The Wildcats are poised and ready to pounce, and as long as the process continues its path, the conference should be getting nervous.