Dec 16, 2021
Special to the Sun-Gazette
MILL HALL – Quality teams find a way to win, and that’s exactly what the Central Mountain girls basketball team did Wednesday in its 36-25 home victory over Bellefonte.
The Wildcats managed to outscore the Raiders in all four quarters and control the game from start to finish. Bellefonte’s 2-3 zone did an exceptional job limiting Central Mountain’s scorers as the game was competitive until the final minutes of action.
“We want to get better every day. With the amount of talent, we lost from last year and as inexperienced we are, those baby steps are so, so critical. We’re seeing those baby steps. It’s looking more like basketball,” Scott Baker said following his team’s home opener Wednesday. “There are little steps we’re seeing. It’s important we were better tonight than Monday and claim the victory.”
The game’s first quarter was a battle of two strong defensive performances. A total of 10 points were scored in the as Central Mountain held a, 6-4, advantage through one quarter of action.
In the second was when the Wildcats and the likes of Mia Kopyscianski and Danica Keely were able to create some separation on the scoreboard. Turnovers at the defensive side of the court helped welcome points at the offensive side for the Wildcats. As for Bellefonte, the Raiders hustle and defense kept the game within reach.
The Wildcats clung to a 15-10 lead at the end of the first half.
After the break, the Wildcats handled Bellefonte’s 2-3 zone far better than they did in the first.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” Baker said regarding his team’s ability to maneuver through Bellefonte’s defense. “We hit the high post and deep corner. That’s an area of growth. We just want to build day after day. I like the group we have overall. It’s going to take some time.”
Bellefonte’s Hana Rados found success from the free throw line early on in the third to make things interesting. Rados drilled four of four foul shots to make the score 16-14 in favor of the Wildcats.
The Raiders tied it up at 18 after they completed an 8-3 run to start the third.
After Bellefonte went on a run, Central Mountain decided it needed to make something happen. Kiahna Jones and Kopyscianski later scored on back-to-back possession to give the Wildcats a five-point lead.
Central Mountain entered the final quarter of play ahead by seven. Bellefonte–who refused to go away–made the switch defensively to man midway through the fourth. The switch to man created scoring chances for the Wildcats. Forwards Jones and Reese Doyle were able to dominate the boards and give Central Mountain extra shot opportunities when it mattered most. Bellefonte had it withing seven with three minutes to play, but that was the closest it got the rest of the way out.
“We played a really tough emotional game yesterday against our rival,” Bellefonte coach Marcus Toomer regarding his team’s game against BEA the night prior. “Really asking them to give me the same exact energy, is really hard. They gave everything they had today, it could have got out of hand but we hung. I’m proud of their efforts.”
Central Mountain 36, Bellefonte 25
Emalee Neff 5 1-1 11; Hana Rados 2 4-4 8; Emma Rossman 2 0-0 4; Madison Ripka 0 2-2 2; Sydney Hamilton 0 0-2 0. Totals 9 7-9 25.
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (36)
Mia Kopyscianski 5 0-1 11; Kiahna Jones 4 0-0 8; Danica Kelly 3 2-4 8; Reese Doyle 2 0-0 4; Marisa Wheeler 1 0-0 3; Keely Rohrbach 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 2-5 36.
Bellefonte 4 6 11 4–25
Central Mountain 6 9 13 8–36
Records: Bellefonte (1-2), Central Mountain (2-1)