By Alan Dale
Now it is about getting real for the Cedar Catholic High School girls basketball team.
A year full of struggles and lessons learned for a roster stocked with younger athletes in the majority, the Lady Trojans now get a do over in the form of the most high-tension time of the year:
The Cedar girls (10-15) are the No. 1 seed at the D1-7 sub-district tournament which begins Monday with No. 4 Wausa (8-15) and No. 5 Walthill (1-18) with the winner to battle the Lady Trojans 6 p.m. Tuesday with all the action at the Msgr. Werner Activity Center.
“We are looking forward to starting this part of our season and to see if we can make another state tournament appearance,” Cedar Catholic coach Craig Wortmann said as his program seeks to replicate last year’s success that resulted in a third-place state trophy.
The other half of the bracket features No. 3 Tri County Northeast (10-12) and No. 2 Osmond (13-10) who play 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the other semifinal.
The final is 7 p.m. Thursday.
In the lead up to this tournament, the Lady Trojans split their final two games, losing to Battle Creek (40-27) and beating Homer (67-61).
“Against Homer, I was very proud of the way the girls fought back in this game and battled to the end,” Wortmann said. “Battle Creek was a strong physical team that we struggled to keep in front of us.
“Offensively we just could not get in a rhythm.”
Makenna Noecker (25 points), Laney Kathol (17 points, seven blocked shots) and Jordyn Steffen (13 points) led the way against Homer. In the defeat to Battle Creek, Noecker (10 points) and Steffen (eight points) paced the Lady Trojans.
Kathol said that one nice thing about the difficulty of their schedule is playing so many teams in the C classes to now have to battle D-1 competition.
However, she doesn’t take these teams lightly.
“We have the potential to go far in this tournament, but I have been worried for the fact that last year we were struggling and then we got into a rhythm and started winning (and had a long winning streak),” Kathol said. “This year we haven’t been like that, so I am a little nervous about that. However, if we can get through the sub-district, it will boost our confidence. We are still a little unsure about what we can do all the time.”
Kathol also is wary of the bugaboos that have continued to rear themselves at the worst times.
“What we have been struggling with right now is our boxing out and rebounding,” Kathol said. “We go into games, and we all have close to five, six rebounds each, and those are the game we win. But, like Battle Creek, a lot of their points came from second chance shots and that really hurt us.
“Another thing that is hurting us is we will do well in the first and fourth quarters and our second and third quarters aren’t as strong.”