High hopes for the Lady Barons

By on December 13, 2017
Returning Manheim Central senior center Serena Conde averaged 8.9 points per game for the Lady Barons last winter

Returning Manheim Central senior center Serena Conde averaged 8.9 points per game for the Lady Barons last winter

Near the midway point of last season, the Manheim Central girls basketball team got a nice snapshot of what its team could look like.

Over a five-game stretch, the Lady Barons earned four Section Two wins against Garden Spot, Solanco, Donegal and Lebanon.

“That was some nice promise,” MC third-year coach Amanda Burns (11-32 overall) said.

Unfortunately, leading scorer Brooke Breinich suffered a season-ending injury in their next game at Northern Lebanon and the Lady Barons went on to drop five of their final six to close out the 2016-17 campaign with a 7-15 overall record (6-8 L-L).

That was the bad news.

The good news is that the Manheim Central girls didn’t lose a single player to graduation. And Breinich, a 5-foot-10 senior guard/forward who averaged 12.8 ppg last winter, is back and healthy to help lead the way.

According to Burns, they are hungry to succeed..

“They’re workers,” the Lady Barons’ coach said. “My first impression is that we’re going to play hard and we’re going to play hard the entire game … I’d describe them as intense.”

Senior point guard Lily Doerschuk (5.2 ppg) senior center Serena Conde (5.6), sophomore guard Laura Good (8.9), and junior guard Allison Cassel joined Breinich in the starting lineup last weekend in the Fleetwood Tournament, when the MC girls beat Northern Lehigh 57-44 and fell to the host Lady Tigers, 28-23.

With sophomore point guard Kassidy Michael and senior guard Elli Weaver still recovering from injuries, the Lady Barons aren’t yet at full strength. Weaver, coming back from an ACL injury, is having her minutes managed, while the Lady Barons are hoping for a positive report when Michael visits the doctor at month’s end about her collarbone.

“(Kassidy) will be back for the second half of the season, for sure,” Burns said. “(Elli) needs to build up that strength. We hope in the next few weeks that she is playing more.”

The addition of senior guard Hannah Barbush — who helped the Lady Baron field hockey team advance to the State quarterfinals in the fall — will complement what already figures to be a strength for the Lady Barons, which is their defense. Barbush gained hoops experience in middle school.

Plus, senior center Taylor Enterline should also contribute, as far as rebounding the ball, playing D and making things happen on offense.

A year ago, MC scored an average of 40.4 ppg, while yielding 44.7 a night.

“I think they have a good focus on defense,” Burns said. “We’re rebounding the ball, that’s a strength. We push in transition, so we’re trying to create that early offense that way. A lot of our defense is leading to early offense, which is good.”

Against Northern Lehigh and Fleetwood last Friday and Saturday, the Lady Barons combined for 57 rebounds and numerous steals.

“Serena is always active for us, so she’s going to rebound for us,” Manheim Central’s coach said. “She’s good at helping and recovering. She’s protecting the paint for us. Laura Good is good at pressuring, Lily’s good at pressuring the ball. Laura tends to get a lot of steals for us. Brooke Breinich also. She can get some steals, rebound and pressure the ball. And Hannah Barbush, as well, can add on that pressure.”

Given the number of returning players that the MC girls have returning this winter, Burns also believes that they have strong leadership on the squad.

“They’re setting the tone for their future,” she said. “It’s really nice to see them take that control.”

Opponents will no doubt have their hands full trying to control Breinich, who has proven that she can score in a lot of different ways.

“We use her inside (and) outside,” Burns said. “She posts for us, so she gets some looks inside, and she cuts a lot to the basket. She can shoot the mid-range jump shot, she can shoot the three-pointer, so she’s a very diverse player for us, definitely.”

While Breinich will certainly be a go-to player for the Lady Barons, others will contribute their share of points also. In the Fleetwood Tip-Off, Breinich (9.5), Conde (8.5), Good (8.0) and Doerschuk (6.5) all averaged at least six points per game.

“After these last two games, it’s balanced scoring,” Burns said. “Even though Brooke is going to be the one who finds it pretty smooth to get points on the board for us, they are sharing the ball and they’re all contributing. That’s something that we learned last year is to play as a team because Brooke missed the last five games, we had Kassidy sick at the end, we had Laura sick at the end. We really learned that that it can’t be all reliant on one person.”

The Manheim Central girls also have seven freshmen on their roster, including Eden Heiserman and Morgan Kopp.

“Eden came into the game on Friday night and did some good things matching up with one of the players I needed her to match up with,” Burns said. “They all kinda know what their roles are when they go into a game and get their job done. We’re hoping to have a decent bench.”

Solanco will visit Manheim Central this Friday, Dec. 15 in both teams’ Section Two opener. They split in a pair of games in 2016-17, but Burns is optimistic about good things happening for her squad this season.

“We’re coming out with the mindset that we’re going to win these games and we’re going to take it one game at a time,” she remarked. “We’re just taking it day-by-day, practice-by-practice, game-by-game and we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. Their focus at practice, their intensity at practice, their intensity in the games (at the Fleetwood Tip-Off) definitely showed me and the rest of the coaching staff that they can be contenders. So we’ll see.”

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