The Central Catholic girls basketball team is coming off a 12-10 record last season and an appearance in the district semifinals.

The Central Catholic girls basketball team is coming off a 12-10 record last season and an appearance in the district semifinals. After losing two very good seniors in Hannah and Katie Miller, this Crusaders team only has one returning senior but that isn't preventing this team from setting lofty goals this season.

“Our ultimate goal is to get a district championship,” senior captain Jordan Fleenor said. “We have the talent; we have the drive and I think that, right now, we are trying to work on the little details; making foul shots and taking care of the ball.”

Head coach Gary Isler knows that a team with only one senior and two freshman playing significant minutes is going to have some growing pains to start the season.

“We have a very tough schedule,” Isler said. “It's going to be hard to determine success by wins and losses.”

Still, Isler is pleased with the defense of this young group early in the season.

“Our defense has been pretty solid,” Isler said. “Through four games against a pretty decent schedule we are giving up 42 points a game.”

That difficult schedule is one that Isler hopers will help prepare this team come tournament time.

“We're Division III and we play a pretty tough schedule,” Isler said. “We're not in a league, so we try to build everything up towards the end of the season as we can.”

A big factor in the team's success will be the leadership that captains Jordan Fleenor and Sarah Miller can provide for the team this season.



LEADING BY EXAMPLE



All great teams have great leaders. The key to a team's success can be found in the example set by its captains. This philosophy is not lost on Fleenor and Miller who hope to set the tone for this Crusaders team through a strong work ethic both on and off the court.

“I feel I have a lot on me to be a leader,” Fleenor said. “Sarah who is the other captain does a great job of leading. She's not as verbal as a person but she definitely leads by example as do I.”

While Miller agrees that her and Fleenor's strength is leading by example, she also said that developing her verbal leadership skills has been an important aspect of her role as team captain.

“I definitely had to step up a little bit more than I would have liked to but I definitely feel like I've had to talk more on the court,” Miller said.

Fleenor said that the great senior classes she had when she was a freshman, sophomore and junior fostered her leadership skills.

“I remember being a freshman and I had great senior leaders,” Fleenor said. “I try to model that as a leader. I tell the girls no matter how much you mess up, it's ok, keep working. I try to lead by example too and go as hard as I can all the time even if I don't do well.”

The work ethic that the captains hope to instill with the underclassmen is something they have learned from being in the program.

“You can always work hard, you’re not always going to make your shots or play your best game but you can always work hard,” Fleenor said.



LEAVING A LEGACY



While winning on the court and getting a district title are both important goals for Fleenor and Miller, both say they are also invested in helping develop the two talented freshman for the Crusaders Ashley Schott and Hanna Risaliti.

“We have two freshman that are playing with us that are giving it their all,” Fleenor said.  “That's probably my number one goal as a senior this year is to be a leader both on and off the court, not just when I'm playing.”

Fleenor said that she will be heavily invested in the program even after she graduates this season because of the strong ties she has with the other players and wanting them to succeed as they grow in the program.

“These girls, we are like family,” Fleenor said. “We spend so much time together during the basketball season. I will always support these girls. It will be fun to come back and watch these freshman play when they're juniors and seniors.”

Miller also said that helping the freshman out and nurturing their growth is also important to her as captain.

“I think our team goals will be just to come together and give it our all, especially on defense,” Miller said. “Just help – especially the freshman – out because they don't know what to expect.”

Fleenor said that the biggest influence on her basketball career and leadership ability has been her father and the values that he has instilled in her. She wants to relay those to the underclassmen.

“How to put the game in perspective, your mindset when you go to play: team first always,” Fleenor said describing the lessons her father has taught her. “Just work as hard as you can and sell out every time. Those are the things you can take with you through life. I'm not going to play basketball forever but I can always work hard and set goals.”