Youthful Lady Barons strive for improvement

By on November 30, 2016
Manheim Central junior Brooke Breinich returns after averaging 10.4 ppg for the Lady Barons last year.

Manheim Central junior Brooke Breinich returns after averaging 10.4 ppg for the Lady Barons last year.

Trust the process.

That’s what Manheim Central second-year coach Amanda Burns is preaching to her team.

Having lost three of their top five leading scorers from last year’s squad to graduation in Emma Beamesderfer (7.0 ppg) point guard Sara Ober (6.6), and Gabby Hahn (3.8), the Lady Barons are a young squad.

Add to it the fact that there are no seniors on the MC girls’ 2016-17 roster.

So Burns is just hoping to see consistent progress and learning from her players this winter.

“I anticipate game-by-game they learn from different experiences and we grow,” Burns said, “that we just keep teaching them and we’ll see improvement by the end of the season and look to take what we’re learning this year into next year.”

Junior 5-foot-11 forward Brooke Breinich, who led Manheim Central in both scoring (10.4 ppg) and rebounding last year, will certainly be a key cog, along with junior center Serena Conde (6-foot-0) and junior guard Lily Doerschuk. Those three are the only returning players who saw significant minutes from the Lady Baron squad that finished 4-17 last season (3-13 Section Three).

Burns acknowledged that this could be considered a rebuilding year for the Manheim Central girls.

“We have a lot of juniors that didn’t play varsity last year,” she said. “So this is a new thing for them. I think it’s safe to say this is rebuilding for Manheim Central.”

The starting five is still a work in progress, but Breinich, Doerschuk and junior guard Elli Weaver figure to be on the floor when MC tips things off at the Fleetwood Tournament next Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9-10.

Breinich, who has 379 career points heading into her junior campaign, spent a lot of the off-season playing competitively with her AAU team and has stepped up her game. She and Doerschuk are also stepping into leadership roles for Central.

“One of her strengths is definitely being a scorer for us,” Burns said. “(Brooke) scored 25 percent of our points last year, but she’s getting smarter, she’s making better decisions. Now she is looking to become more of an outside shooter — she’s developed that game. Last year, I thought she scored a lot inside attacking the basket. This year, we want to use more of her game inside attacking the basket, but also shooting outside shots when she’s open. Defensively, she’s long, she can rebound for us, so she’s great in that aspect as well.”

With Ober moving on, the Lady Barons will look to Doerschuk to fill those shoes at point guard.

“We’re really excited for her to fill that role,” Burns said. “She can shoot, she has good handle, she’s very coachable, great at listening and she’s going to be a huge part of filling Sara’s role as point guard.”

Freshman Kassidy Michael will also help there, allowing Doerschuk to play off-guard at times.

Weaver, a guard, is coming off a solid season with Central’s JV team in 2015-16 and is ready to make the step to playing in varsity contests.

“Last year, she was the leading scorer on JV and she came into varsity toward the end of the year and could score,” Burns said, “so we’re going to be looking for Elli to be one of our scorers as well. Along with Brooke and Lily, we’re looking to those three juniors to really help us offensively.”

Breinich and Conde give the Lady Barons some size inside, which will help the team with defensive match-ups. Conde has been gaining strength and showing improvement since the end of last year.

“Her game has developed,” Burns remarked. “We’re trying to give her confidence with attacking the basket in the same way that Brooke does, even taking some little jumpers and little outside shots.”

Junior Taylor Enterline is another player who should give MC a boost with rebounds.

“She will be getting playing time really just working for us defensively with rebounding in the post,” Burns said. “Offensively, she helps with getting that ball inside and kicking it out.”

MC’s skipper expects to employ an eight or nine girl rotation, with junior Jaya Pabon and freshman guard Laura Good also battling for minutes. Pabon is currently recovering from an injury, but the hope is that will be ready for the season opener.

Quickness is a team strength where Burns hopes to capitalize at the offensive end of the floor.

“We’re going to be trying to run quick with some of our smaller girls,” she said, “with Lily, Elli, Brooke, who’s quick too. We have Jaya Pabon, she’s quick, and we have our two freshmen — Cassidy and Laura Good, who’s another quick guard. So we’re hoping that we can be fast if we’re not the biggest team.”

Burns also believes that her team’s outside shooting has taken a step forward from the squad that averaged 37.0 points per game last year. That will be key as they look to replace a combined 59 three-pointers from Beamesderfer, Hahn and Ober.

“We’re looking for that as one of our strengths too,” Burns said. “We’re going to be looking to attack, attack, attack the basket and hopefully get to the foul line. We’ve been working on improving our foul shooting percentage (from 156-of-270 for 58 percent in 2015-16) and finishing with contact.”

A year ago, there were a handful of games that the Lady Barons lost by single digits. But Burns believes that if they can find a way to finish off opponents in the fourth quarter, that will go a long way toward toward ultimately improving in the win column.

“We just need to close games,” she said. “We need to execute at the end of the game. I think they’re going to be competitive in all of our Section games and non-league games, so we just need to stay disciplined, I think, and we’ll be able to finish more games and come out with more wins than last year, hopefully.”

It would be a key step in trusting the process.

“I’m going to have to be patient as they learn and grow,” Burns said.

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