Defense Paving Way for Young Century Boys Basketball Success
It would have been understandable if the Century boys basketball team struggled this season.
The Knights graduated seven seniors from last year's team which finished 22-3 and reached the MPSSAA 2A west region finals. Those seven players accounted for most of the team's offensive and defensive production, meaning Century head coach George Wunder was truly going back to the drawing board with an entirely new set of players this year.
The young Knights have more than held their own though, currently boasting a 12-5 overall record, including a 9-2 record in Carroll County play.
"We've adjusted nicely to the physicality and speed of varsity competition. They understand the preparation that is needed, both physical and mental, to compete against our competition," Wunder said. "For a young team, I love the fact that we have guys who compete and play hard everyday."
The team has been led by juniors Zach Tucker and Chris Norman. Tucker is averaging 19.4 points per game as well as 3.2 assists, both team highs. Norman is contributing 13.2 points per game and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game.
Mike Leipold, one of three seniors on the team, is right behind Norman with 7.2 rebounds per game, while Adam Rolfes has been a key shooter for the Knights who has helped with stretching opposing defenses. Rolfes averages 7.2 points per game.
Wunder says Leipold and fellow senior Nate Tucker have been crucial to the team's success from a leadership perspective. The two have used their previous experience on the varsity to set a good example for their younger teammates, which has helped them adapt quickly.
While the team has been excelling offensively, Wunder says the team's defense has been its biggest strength. The Knights are allowing a measly 51.05 points per game. Its defense ensures that Century is competitive in almost every game they play- of the team's five losses, three of them have been by three points or less.
"Our identity is our defense. We have always played man defense with the emphasis of five guys moving together to guard the ball," Wunder said. "These guys have really improved on the defensive side of the ball throughout the season. Our winning record can largely be attributed to our defense."
The team's defense has been particularly stingy of late, which has translated to wins for Century. Before last night's 45-43 loss to Westminster, the Knights had a five game winning streak going which included marquee wins over main rival Liberty, as well as a 63-55 win over Winters Mill, which had been undefeated in Carroll County play before that game.
The team's progress is a welcome sight for Wunder, who is hoping three more league clashes (North Carroll, Manchester Valley, South Carroll), and two non-conference games (Aberdeen, Walkersville) will properly prepare his young team for a deep postseason run.
"Each game carries importance as we want to have a high seed going into the playoffs," Wunder said. "Our number one goal is to be playing our best basketball come playoff time. We just need to focus on continuing to improve as individuals and as a team."
|February 6th, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|