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Central Mountain girls, boys open season at home in doubleheader today in basketball

TIM WEIGHT/For The Express Central Mountain’s Jack Hanna shoots during a game last season against Montoursville.

It has been more than 330 days since varsity basketball has been played at Central Mountain.

Today, that streak will come to an end as the both the girls and boys teams are set to take the court. The girls team welcomes the Penns Valley Rams at 3:30 p.m. and the boys’ team hosts Jersey Shore later in the evening at 7:30 p.m.

Central Mountain girls coach Scott Baker considers it a blessing to have the opportunity to see his team play after a prolonged off-season.

“To be honest, it was starting to look like we were not going to have that opportunity this year,” Baker said. “We have a team that has some experience now. It started to feel like it might have been a little bit of a let down because we got prepared for this season with this group girls. We really feel like the group we have this year is going to have a pretty good year. We’re just really going to enjoy being out there competing.”

The Wildcats are looking to improve on a 6-16 record from a year ago. Central Mountain is led by its three seniors Avery Baker, Quinlynn McCann and Alyssa Fisher.

TIM WEIGHT/For The Express Central Mountain’s Quinlynn McCann looks to pass during a game last season. McCann and the Wildcats play their season opener this afternoon in a girls/boys doubleheader. The girls host Penns Valley at 3:30 p.m. and the boys host Jersey Shore at 7:30 p.m.

Baker likes what he has seen from his team leading up to today’s opener.

“I feel like we are coming together as a unit. I have seen some tremendous progress from a basketball aspect. This week I started to see the basketball come along, they’re enjoying and ready to get started,” Baker said. “I think they’re really understanding we have a group that can be really good as long as they play together and do their job. We’re very encouraged by that.”

Their opened, Penns Valley, opened its season last night against Clearfield.

Baker said today’s battle against the Rams has the potential to set the tone for the rest of the season. Although, he said it is not indicative for the future of the team.

“We never want to put everything into one game, but I think when you’re starting off we want to go out and be very aggressive. Game one is always important because it helps set the tone for what the rest of the season can be. We’re going to treat every game almost like our championship. We’re going to fight, scratch, and claw,” Baker said. “We have the makings of being a pretty good team. We’re starting to develop some younger players I am excited to see them. I am looking for our veterans to lead us and take the next step in their game.”

The night game — featuring Jersey Shore and the Central Mountain boys– is set up to be a solid matchup.

Through all the cancelations and road blocks, Central Mountain coach Tyler Bardo has kept his team prepared.

“Our mantra has been to stay ready. I’ve remained confident that they’d get their opportunity and encouraged them to do the same,” Bardo said. Our expectation is that we will play hard, play together, and execute on what we’ve prepared to be for game one. I think you’ll see a team that has a lot of fun playing basketball together.”

Senior Aidan Major is the player to watch for Central Mountain. Major is a solid defender that has a natural feel for the game. On the other end of the court, Jersey Shore brings back Damian Williams. Williams, the team’s lone returning starter from last season, posted 17 points and 13 rebounds in a win against Selinsgrove earlier in the week.

In terms of his team’s evaluation, Bardo said he is eager to see how his team plays together.

We are looking for application of the concepts at both ends of the floor. We are also looking for cohesiveness with the guys on the floor at any given time and want to see how well they work together with each other’s individual strengths,” Bardo said.

Bardo is impressed with his squad’s flexibility through it all.

“As a staff, we are most impressed with the collective progression we’ve been able to make in a short time. Their energy and willingness to adapt to all the change has been great.”

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