BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
DONNELLSON – Central Lee’s girls basketball team lost an All-State player from last season when Mya Merschman graduated.
Merschman scored 607 points, had 195 rebounds, 56 steals, and 49 blocks, and was virtually unstoppable.
That’s a lot of production for the Hawks to make up this season.
“They’re going to have to step up, and I think they can do that,” coach Jay Baldwin said. “It’s a matter of confidence, and doing what we know they can do.”
Merschman was a dominant player, shooting 58 percent from the field and 83.5 percent in free throws. That kind of domination can lead to everyone else just letting her take over the game, Baldwin said.
“Mya was such a difference-maker,” he said. “You have a tendency to stand around and watch her, because she can do everything. Unfortunately, they did that sometimes. You can’t win with one player doing everything. Not that they were scared, but they knew if they got the ball to Mya, she would make things happen.”
There is plenty left on Central Lee’s roster, though.
“These kids, they have the ability,” Baldwin said. “We know they can do it. They have to have confidence in themselves.”
Baldwin will get a full season of Alivia Myhre, who had to sit out part of last season because of transfer rules. She averaged 11.2 points in 10 games, adding 47 rebounds and 20 steals.
“She wanted to mesh to the point where she was being too nice, I guess,” Baldwin said. “Now she’s a lot more comfortable within the team.”
Junior Makayla Morrison is back after starting every game last season. Morrison, who averaged 8.9 points per game last season, led the Hawks with 57 assists.
“I think she is going to have another good year,” Baldwin said. “You can see her confidence growing.”
Macy and Maura Watkins, who started last season, return for their senior season.
Macy was a key part of the Hawks’ defense, finishing second on the team with 35 steals.
“When we moved Macy to the top of our defense, it pretty much changed everything,” Baldwin said. “It made our defense more active. She looks the part this year even more.”
Maura averaged just two points per game, but had 69 rebounds, 27 assists and 26 steals.
“Maura can be a wild card, because she can do everything,” Baldwin said. “She can do a lot of things, it’s just getting her the confidence to do it.”
Abby Simmons, Karlie Pohren, Bailey Schwartz and Mya Lampe got some playing time last season as sophomores, and should play a bigger part in the rotation this season.
“All of those kids, the neat thing is they can play the same spots, which is good and bad,” Baldwin said. “We really don’t have a big post presence. It’s going to be a lot of guards moving in and out.”
The Hawks will get to play their first season in the school’s new gym, which Baldwin thinks could have an impact.
“It’s nice to go in there and play,” Baldwin said. “We’ve done a lot more breakdown drills — you’ve got 8 baskets you can work on.
“The kids really enjoy it. With our fan following, it’s going to be even better. I said, ‘This is our kitchen, and we’re going to do all of our cooking here.’”