MILL HALL- What an interesting week it was for Central Mountain sports. One team recorded its two biggest wins of the season, while another fumbled a double-digit lead in a disappointing loss. All events were in full-effect last week with the cooperative weather, so let’s begin this week’s column with boys basketball.
The boys basketball team went 0-3 on the week, but the record was a little misleading. While they suffered a double-digit loss to Hollidaysburg, they dropped a pair of nailbiters to Lewisburg and Mifflinburg by a combined five points
The Wildcats dropped a Monday night road matchup to Lewisburg, 49-46. A scoreless second quarter doomed the Wildcats as a 15-13 opening quarter lead turned into a 27-15 deficit headed into halftime. CM responded with an electric fourth quarter to outscore the Green Dragons, 18-11, but ultimately dropped the contest 49-46.
After a 83-51 loss to Hollidaysburg on Wednesday, CM returned Saturday night in the “Battle of the Wildcats” against Mifflinburg. This was another thriller as both teams traded leads, with CM taking a 51-50 advantage into the final quarter. Poor free-throw shooting limited CM in the fourth, as Mifflinburg notched a 16-12 advantage in the quarter gave the ‘Cats a 65-63 loss, its second razor-thin defeat of the week.
“Through the injuries, we continue to find ourselves in positions to win games,” Central Mountain coach Tyler Bardo said on the Wildcats, now 3-11 on the year. “That’s a testament to their continued push to get better. Those losses teach us that we have to give attention to every bit of detail because any play, positive or negative, has an effect on the outcome in games like that. Guys are filling roles that are different from their role at the beginning of the year. As a coach, I appreciate the approach our guys have to the adversity.”
Conner Soo was on a tear during the week for CM. He averaged 21 points per game in the three contests, with 18 against Lewisburg, 21 against Hollidaysburg and 24 against Mifflinburg.
Like with the boys squad, the girls basketball team finished 0-3 in the week with one lopsided defeat and a pair of close losses. The girls team lost 60-32 to Hollidaysburg on Monday, 39-37 to Selinsgrove on Wednesday then a another 41-34 loss to Mifflinburg on Friday.
The one game that undoubtedly stings the most is the two-point loss to Selinsgrove. Central Mountain led by as many as 12 in the game, and by seven in the fourth quarter before a total relapse in the fourth. They struggled to defend Selinsgrove in the paint, and their guards uncharacteristically committed silly turnovers which severely limited their scoring opportunities. A key turnover in the game’s final 30 seconds led to the go-ahead score for the Seals, which ultimately decided the game’s outcome.
The team ended the week with a 41-34 loss to Mifflinburg on Friday night. CM held a 21-12 halftime lead before being outscored 29-13 in the final two periods. Quinlynn McCann tallied 11 points and Avery Baker notched nine, but the Wildcats suffered its third consecutive loss to fall to 5-9 on the season.
“The past week has shown once again our ability to compete on a regular basis,” Central Mountain coach Scott Baker said. “However, it also showed very clearly our need to play four-consistent quarters in order to win games. Finishing games is the next step in our growth process. We look forward to continuing to work toward that over the course of the final third of the season.”
Wrestling had its best week of the season, so look out for them in the award session. The Wildcat grapplers stunned the undefeated Selinsgrove Seals Tuesday on Senior Night, 36-30. The Wildcats trailed by 10 points with just three bouts to go, before the late-meet heroics by a few clutch wrestlers. First up was Cyrus McCarl (285 pounds) who pinned Trey Baney to pull CM within four of tying. Clayton Foster(106 pounds) responded with another pin against Leo Martinez, to hand CM its first lead of the night 32-30. Gino Serafini (113 pounds) closed the show with a dominant 8-0 shutout decision over Donovan Goundie to complete the comeback and pound-out the 36-30 win.
The Wildcat wrestlers had a knack for drama this week, and had their fans on the edge of their seats again Friday against Bellefonte as CM picked up a 33-27 win against Bellefonte. The meet came down to the last match of the night with Nik Miller (220 pounds) facing off against Tyler Putnam. Miller pinned Putnam for the meet-clinching victory to give CM its second win of the week against rival Bellefonte, 33-27.
The Central Mountain swimming team had a pair of contests this week. Tuesday was a road meet against Williamsport and Shamokin, where CM had solid results. The girls team defeated Shamokin, 82-72, but fell to Williamsport 123-58. The boys defeated Shamokin 65-49 but lost to Williamsport 100-44.
Central Mountain returned Thursday with a home meet versus Jersey Shore and Penns Valley.
The Central Mountain boys swimming team earned a 40-22 win over Penns Valley on Thursday. CM then lost to Jersey Shore, 39-37. The girl’s competition was just as close as CM fell to Jersey Shore late, 87-83.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Wrestling. And this one is a no-brainer. CM had its most productive week of the season defeating undefeated Selinsgrove and escaping Bellefonte with a 33-27 win over Bellefonte, with the night’s last match deciding the outcome.
ATHLETE(S) OF THE WEEK
I’ve never been a big-stats guy. For me, the purest way to measure an athlete’s success is by their ability to win and by their performances in the in the game’s crucial moments. So for me, this week’s honor goes to Cyrus McCarl, Clayton Foster, Gino Serafini and Nik Miller for their clutch performances to hammer-out wins against two top-notch teams this week.
Down 30-20 to Selinsgrove, Cyrus McCarl and Clayton Foster ripped back-to-back pins before Gino Serafini earned a major-decision win to lift the Wildcats to victory versus Selinsgrove.
Then on Friday Nik Miller closed the meet with a crucial win, which handed the Wildcats a 33-27 victory over Bellefonte.
Kudos to these young athletes and their clutch performances. Their team needed them to step up and they did, and I’m certain their coaches, teammates and family members couldn’t be any prouder.
Collin Jones had one game for the Lebanon Valley College basketball team this week. He notched 12 points and six rebounds versus Messiah.
Laurel Moyer competed for the LHU women’s track and field team this week. She finished second place in the mile and fourth in the 800 meter run.
Brody Baker had two games this week and combined for seven points and six assists against Penn State Berks and Gallaudet University.
Boys basketball returns tonight with a home matchup versus Montoursville. They’re back Wednesday to host Shikellamy and host Shamokin on Friday.
Girls basketball travels to Huntingdon tonight, Selinsgrove on Friday and then DuBois on Saturday.
Wrestling heads to Tyrone Saturday for the District 6 AAA Duals.
Swimming hosts Montoursville on Tuesdsay