Central focuses on positives after falling to Chaparral
Highlights aren’t easy to find when you’re on the wrong end of 54-14 score, as Central was Thursday night against Chaparral in the first day of the Wildcat Invitational girls basketball tournament.
But the Warriors had a couple worth noting: D’Kota Brodie banged her way into the post; and Jordan Eller set a hard screen.
The physical play was something first-year coach Mary Doane hopes will lead to closer games for Central (1-3) during the tournament and translate into wins during Southwestern League play.
“I think any time you play competition better than you, with the right attitude, you can get better,” Doane said. “It’s just a matter of whether or not you can keep your head up and continue to grind. That’s really the X factor for us.”
Chaparral (2-0) limited the Warriors’ ability to move the ball up the court with a full-court press and half-court traps. The man-to-man scheme shut down Central’s offense, which was limited to six points in the first half. But Central nearly doubled its total in the first four minutes of the second half before struggling again in the fourth quarter.
While Eller, the team’s senior leader, was in foul trouble for the entire game, and Brodie was limited by Chaparral’s size, sophomore Tyler Hays led the struggling Central offense. Hays finished with a team-high five points, creating chances off two steals and two trips to the free-throw line. Brodie chipped in three points.
“Tyler’s a great kid, and she works really hard and plays really hard,” Doane said. “She’s got a long ways to go in terms of learning basketball and taking care of the ball and being the point guard I want her to be, but I know she can do it. And I told her after the game that she got better tonight. I’m proud of her for that.”
Doane’s coaching style has been a major shift in the Warrior program. The former CMU women’s basketball assistant coach preaches team-centric and defense-heavy basketball.
Eller says there is better team cohesion because Doane is a woman, while former coach Todd Dixon is a man.
“(This year) is nice because we jell, and there isn’t a lot of seniority,” Eller said. “You know, it’s also different going from a guy coach to a girl coach. This year it’s a lot more team-oriented, and there’s a lot less yelling. We’re just focused differently, and I’m able to use a lot more energy on basketball. It’s just different with a girl coach.”
Central has scored more than 20 points once in its four games this year, and Hays said she hopes the Warriors can continue improving as the tournament goes on.
“I think we’re doing better, we’re working more as a team,” Hays said. “We’re not as good as we want to be, but we’re getting better. We want to be ranked this year, and we want to win more than the seven games we won last year.”