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CM boys, girls preparing for start to season

The winter sports season is set to start Jan.4, which is when Gov. Tom Wolf’s suspension of youth and interscholastic sports is set to expire.

The PIAA announced Tuesday it is reducing the number of required preseason practices from 15 to 10 prior to competition. The change was made in order for high school teams to get as many competition weekends as possible prior to the postseason.

Both the girls and boys basketball programs at Central Mountain are communicating virtually online and staying prepared for play for whenever practice can begin.

Scott Baker, head coach of the girls basketball team, is putting an emphasis on mental and physical preparation.

“We have virtual meetings via Google Meet once a week. We have discussed academics, conditioning, regularly emphasizing with them the importance of staying ready for when the time comes,” Baker said. “We will be as ready as is possible both mentally and physically to be successful.”

The boys team, led by Tyler Bardo, is evaluating college basketball on TV during the pause on PIAA sports.

“We have had a few Zoom meetings to be able to communicate updates and changes that have been made. The team has shared ideas for how to stay ready for the start of the season, particularly to get ourselves into better physical shape during this time,” Bardo said. “The players have also shared, in group messaging, their thoughts on games and teams that they’re seeing play at the collegiate level right now.”

Bardo said the most challenging part of the delay is the mixup of the routine of preparing for practices and games. He mentioned his players are working out independently with a focus on conditioning and skill development.

“The opportunity to teach the players about basketball and watch them grow as people through the challenges that present themselves. The absence of those things is difficult for me as a coach right now,” Bardo said. “For our players, I think they just want to be with their friends and work toward short and long-term goals day in and day out.”

Baker said through it all, basketball is a significant part of both coaches and players during the winter months.

“We are all creatures of habit. Basketball is what we do all winter,” Baker said. “It is what keeps us active when it is tough to be outside. For some it is a big part of their lives. For some it is what they prepare for all year long. So, to not be realizing that opportunity is very tough.”

Both teams are set to resume practice around the expected Jan. 4 start date. Baker and Bardo said both of their teams are excited to begin the season.

“I’m confident that when we are able to return to play some will be excited and prepared to do that. Those players will lead us to success in what will be at least somewhat of a shortened season,” Baker said. “However, anything that we are able to get in this unprecedented situation is a bonus.”

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