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Michael Kresovich on basketball: Central Mountain boys are poised to end season on a high note

Central Mountain boys basketball coach Tyler Bardo said his expectations heading into the season was his team would practice and work as hard as they could to in order to put quality efforts together on the floor.

“For the vast majority of our games, we have met that expectation,” Bardo said. “We entered just being thankful to get opportunities.”

Bardo has the Wildcats at 4-9 after their 69-60 defeat by Williamsport on Tuesday night. Despite the team’s fifth consecutive loss, Bardo and his squad believe they are building something special through the struggle.

“Williamsport was a big step forward to this group’s mental approach and it led to a great physical effort. We’ve been in so many close games where we’ve come up short,” Bardo said. “We are plenty familiar with these situations. Through these last four games and forward we just need to finish the job with maintaining composure and staying accountable.”

Including the Williamsport loss, Central Mountain has four single-digit losses on the season. That includes a narrow three-point loss to Lewisburg on Jan. 27 (48-45). Bardo said it is crucial that the Wildcats learn to close out games.

With contests remaining against Montoursville, Hollidaysburg and Selinsgrove, Bardo said the team’s current goal is to put together complete performances as they work toward playoff season.

“We are close, but still working to be more efficient and consistent at both ends of the floor,” Bardo said. “To host a playoff game, we control our own destiny. We have nothing but tough games ahead of us. Playoff caliber games, we need to find ways to finish solid performances as wins and we can meet that goal.”

As of late, some key players have stepped up for the Wildcats. Central Mountain has got a boost in scoring from juniors Cayde McCloskey and Ashton Probst. The combo of McCloskey and Probst have been a solid complement to the team’s leading scorer Jack Hanna as the sophomore has been seeing more attention defensively each night.

Hanna is not putting up the scoring numbers he did at the beginning of the season, but he is finding other ways to impact the game. The sophomore is averaging 13 points per game to go with three rebounds and assists. Most notably, Hanna tallied nine assists in Central Mountain’s loss to Williamsport.

With Hanna being shut down primarily, it has opened up scoring opportunities for others.

McCloskey has been shooting the 3-ball exceptionally well from beyond the arch as of late, and helps spread out opposing defenses. The junior has connected on 10 3s over the last four games. Inside, Probst has been a solid choice for the Wildcats. Probst failed to reach double digits in scoring in Central Mountain’s first eight games. He has reached the mark in three of the Wildcats previous five games, most notably scoring a season-high 17 against Williamsport.

The trio consisting of Probst, McCloskey and Hanna is capable of leading Central Mountain to a playoff run.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Ashton Probst, Central Mountain

Probst’s 17-points in the loss to Williamsport marked a career-high for the junior. The Central Mountain forward has scored 42 in Central Mountain’s last five outings, compared to just 21 during the team’s first five games.

Quinlynn McCann, Central Mountain

The senior guard has been posting some solid scoring numbers as of late and has helped put her team at a record of 10-1.

McCann has scored 14 and 18 in Central Mountain’s last two outings.

Michael Kresovich is the sports editor at the Lock Haven Express. He can be reached by email at mkresovich@lockhaven.com.

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