Veteran Lady Barons ready to tip off McCabe era

By on December 7, 2011

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Lititz Record file photo
Manheim Central senior Maddy Novak (left), who averaged a team-best 12.1 ppg last year, is a key returning player for the MC girls.Lititz Record file photo
Manheim Central senior Maddy Novak (left), who averaged a team-best 12.1 ppg last year, is a key returning player for the MC girls.

Call it a good problem that Tom McCabe and his assistants had in the pre-season.

Their dilemma?

Picking captains for the 2011-12 Manheim Central girls basketball team.

"I talked to my assistants and said, ‘How are we going to do this?," said McCabe, the Lady Barons’ first-year skipper. "We have six quality kids that are good leaders, all six of them are going to play a lot and they all bring different things."

Such is the case when you have a veteran group of returning players. All six, in fact, played a lot in 2010-11 when the Lady Barons went 13-12, advancing to the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs and then to the District Three Triple-A playoffs.

No seniors graduated from the squad which fell to Lancaster Catholic in a District first-round playoff game last February. That’s not to say, though, that the MC girls won’t have a different look on their bench this winter.

With six-year coach Jason Coletti stepping aside to take over the Ephrata boys program, it is McCabe who inherits the reigns to a team that has qualified for the League playoffs in each of the past two seasons and the District Three Triple-A dance in six consecutive years.

Led by that group of six seniors — Breanna Barber, Lindsay Fink, Morgan Mummau, Maddy Novak, Taylor Stoltz and Renee Wiegand — the Lady Barons have what McCabe believes could be solid depth and athleticism. Fink and Mummau were selected as the team’s captains.

"At times, it really looks like we share the basketball and I think we have a little bit of everything," McCabe said. "We have some athletes. We’re definitely athletic and I’m hoping our depth can carry us."

While McCabe acknowledges that he is cautiously optimistic for the upcoming season, there are already injury concerns with a couple of his players.

Plus, he is implementing a new system which is different from the one they operated under Coletti for the past several years, and that remains a work in progress.

"I’m not trying to have them learn everything in one year because it’s impossible," McCabe said, "and what we do I think is totally different than coach Coletti and he must have done a great job because he won with these girls and the kids want to compete. They’re very competitive … I think for us to be competitive, we have to go up tempo a little bit, and because we’re deeper, I think we’re going to be allowed to do that and we’re very athletic. We’re blessed with athletes and as long as we stay healthy, we should be somewhat deep. I’m hoping."

Novak (12.1 ppg) and Wiegand (11.7 ppg) finished 1-2 in scoring in 2010-11 and they will be counted on heavily again to help lead the way. Novak, a 5-8 slashing guard, will play at the three spot.

"Maddy is an athlete … She goes 100 miles an hour all the time and gives everything she has," McCabe said. "She goes hard. I’m trying to just tone it down a little bit, I’m trying to keep her in the basketball game because again, I want to be aggressive defensively, but I also want to be intelligent."

Wiegand, at 5-foot-9, figures to be a force on the boards again for the Lady Barons, and according to McCabe, she is right in the middle of Manheim Central’s defensive schemes. She will be at the four spot, where her sister, Lauree (5-8), is also in the mix.

"Renee is just a horse," McCabe said. "She goes hard and picks up a lot of things. My assistant Mark Silcox is a defensive genius and Renee is a big part of every defense that we run. She understands where to force people and how to sell it. She gets it. If she’s a couple inches bigger, she probably plays college basketball. She rebounds and defends and just does everything for us. (Wiegand and Novak) are really going to have to stay on the floor."

Overall, the Lady Barons will have five girls battling at three guard spots, with Mummau, Novak, Stoltz and juniors Caroline Novak and Kristen Robeson handling those duties. Robeson will probably be Central’s primary point guard, but Mummau, who nailed a team-leading 21 triples last year, will also step in there, while also playing at the two and three.

"Morgan Mummau can really stroke it," McCabe said. "I think (Kristen) is a student of the game … and I’m hoping that she makes other people better. I want her to be able to penetrate and make other people better and get people involved because she can handle."

Stoltz, a 5-foot-6 guard, is another who has opened some eyes.

"Taylor Stoltz has really done a lot of intelligent things for us," McCabe said. "Taylor Stoltz rebounds well and she is such a smart player. She gets it. She makes other people better. Not the handler that you need for a one, but she understands spacing and she’s a kid that makes us better. No doubt."

Lauree Wiegand can also handle her own, and McCabe acknowledged that he is trying to bring her along steadily.

"She is strong, very physical, athletic," McCabe said. "She’s going to play some JV, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s going to get some varsity time as well because she elevates on her jump shot and she really does some good things. We want to slow things down for her because it’s an entirely new system. Not better, just new."

In the middle, Barber (5-10) and Fink (5-10) give McCabe options as nice complements to one another.

"Lindsay Fink can really stroke it," McCabe said. "She’s not quite as athletic as our other center, Breanna Barber, and it’s nice to have both. Breanna has athleticism and jumping and quickness, where Lindsay Fink understands the game and she can really stroke it. So people are going to have to guard her."

While the Manheim Central girls have six quality seniors and two talented juniors, they also have a bright future with nine in the sophomore and freshman grades that McCabe and his assistants like.

"We brought five freshmen up that are going to be with us, and if they’re with us for how many months that we’re playing, they should be familiar with the system next year," McCabe said. "We have some great sophomores coming through as well that are really basketball intelligent. Maybe not quite as athletic as the seniors, but very basketball smart."

Central’s coach is hopeful that they are smart when it comes to being prepared to play every night this winter. Having coached in the Manheim Central boys junior high last winter, McCabe is still just getting his first look at the Lady Barons’ opponents. But he figures L-S will probably be the team to beat in what should be a competitive Section Three.

By the same token, he is aware that teams won’t overlook his squad knowing the number of returning players they have.

"I just want kids playing hard every night, supporting one another, staying positive, not having day-to-day letdowns because I honestly don’t think there’s anybody in the Section that you can just look past," McCabe said. "I told them, ‘I don’t know if people are picking us.’ I think we can compete with anybody in Section Three. But good teams usually have a target on their back and if there’s teams that might not be one or two, (but) maybe three, four or five, we can very easily make their season by coming down a notch and being upset. And again, I don’t know enough to say who’s good and who’s not good … Every night, we have to compete. Every night, we have to play with a sense of urgency. I see it at times, but good teams play hard all the time no matter who they play and no matter where they play." More LADY BARONS, page B-5

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