BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – Five…Nine…???
It may very well be that the members of the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team are a bunch of sequential improvers. And if so, what would be the next number in the sequence?
Well, one of the properties of sequential improvers is that they don’t necessarily like to limit their variables.
Yes, there does seem to be a pattern to the Falcons’ improvement under now third-year head coach Jim Donmoyer. After posting five wins in Donmoyer’s rookie season, Cedar Crest went 9-14 a year ago.
Included in that was an 8-8 mark and third-place finish in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, and an appearance in the District Three Class AAAA postseason. Who says that the past can’t be a precursor to the future?
“Each year it’s getting better and better,” said Donmoyer. “We’ll have more than nine wins this year, for sure. But that doesn’t mean if we have ten wins I’m happy.
“We’re trying to compete in the section,” Donmoyer continued. “We’re not conceding anything. Each year we seem to be getting better. That’s the expectation. We don’t want to take a step back and not make it to districts.”
Absent from last year’s Falcon equation are graduated seniors Gabbi Donmoyer and Maria Battle. What that means for our current little group of mathematical whizzes is that they’ll be a little older, and a little wiser.
“I remember our tough non-league schedule, our tough schedule overall,” said Donmoyer of 2012-13. “We lost 13 games to teams that went to districts. The kids played hard all year, and we beat the teams we were supposed to beat. We might’ve gotten blown out a handful of times.
“What I asked the girls was, ‘What have we done?’,” Donmoyer continued. “Last year we won nine games. ‘Is that how you want to be remembered, as the team that won nine games? If you guys work hard, we want to win more than nine games?’ I remind them of our record last year. The whole thing is about getting better.”
With a strong junior class showing the way, Cedar Crest has the experienced personnel to take the necessary strides. Eleventh-graders Alex Rich, a 5-7 forward, Rachel Miller, a 5-4, guard, Emmi Wagner, a 5-5 guard, and twin sister Nikki Wagner, a 5-2 guard, combined to average 31 points as sophomores, a figure that represented over 75 percent of the Falcons’ offensive output.
Rounding out CCHS’ Class of 2015 is 5-3 guard Makaley Ruhl.
“We have 11 kids, and at any given time, if I have to play any one of them, I’m fine with that,” said Donmoyer. “We have flexibility. We have a lot of guards. We have a lot of shooters. Our strength is outside. With that being said, we have some kids in the post. I feel good about the kids we have. They all work hard.
“We can shoot,” added Donmoyer. “And I’m pleased with the effort. They all seem to have a working knowledge of basketball. They pay attention. They’re buying into what we’re selling. And there’s a good sense of team.”
The Falcons’ new found post presence features 5-9 sophomore forward Caitlyin Albright and 5-10 senior forward Abby Munnion. The only other senior on the Cedar Crest roster is 5-6 ball hawk Kayla Horn.
In addition to Albright, the sophomore class is represented by Sky Yancey, a 5-4 guard. Two freshmen – 5-0 guard Ariel Jones and 6-0 forward Alyssa Austin – will push the upperclassmen for playing time.
“Turnovers is an area of concern,” said Donmoyer. “We’ve been turning the ball over way too much. I’d rather miss a shot than turn the ball over. When you do that, you miss out on an opportunity. Overall team defense is a concern, and I’m interested to see how our inside players do. I’m very optimistic. We’re going to be ten or 11 deep.
“There’s a lot of sharing,” Donmoyer continued. “Our thing is: ‘If you give it up, you’ll get it back’. They’ve (his players) been around. They know the game. They’ve played together as a group.”
Cedar Crest’s first assignment – PIAA Class AAAA runner-up Cumberland Valley – is a tough one. The Falcons will play host to the Eagles on Friday, December 6 at The Cage.
“We want to compete for the section,” said Donmoyer. “I know that’s a lofty goal. If you can compete for the section and get one of the top two spots, you get to the league playoffs. We’d like to win a district game. I’ve got a number for wins in my mind, but I’m not going to share it with the girls. They don’t need that extra pressure. But to a kid, I think they’d tell you the same things.
“We need to share the ball, limit our turnovers, play as a group and play hard at all times, not just some of the time,” continued Donmoyer. “I’m looking forward to the season starting. Last year was a step in the right direction. Now we’re ready for the next step.”
Is it 13?