As Catonsville girls basketball coach Mike Mohler looks at his team's future, he sees the past. Year after year, the Comets rank among the best teams in the metro area.
Catonsville won Baltimore County championships three years in a row (2008-2010), lost in the county final in 2012 and went 20-4 last year.
Mohler considers the 2013 Comets, anchored by the only two seniors on the 14-player roster, point guard Breya Wallace and forward Taylor Barton, in the class of those outstanding teams.
Catonsville is off to a 5-1 start.
"I love this team," said Mohler, who is in his 20th year as coach. "I really do. This team can be something special."
Catonsville used 10 players in a 35-30 victory over North Harford on Dec. 27 in the BBOWS Holly & Hoops Holiday Basketball Tournament.
That type of depth allows the Comets to run a tenacious press, which is one of the signatures of Mohler's teams.
In six games this season, they have yielded more than 30 points only twice.
The teams that managed to do it, Patterson Mill and Seton Keough, are ranked among the top 15 teams in The Baltimore Sun girls high school basketball poll.
"That's not bad at all," Mohler said of the points allowed in the team's first six games. "Our goal is 30 (or less)."
Although Mohler is pleased with the number of points the Comets are yielding in games, he has been bothered by another statistic: turnovers.
Catonsville committed 32 in a 35-30 loss to Seton Keough on Dec. 21. The Comets also had 29 turnovers in the win over North Harford.
Catonsville did a better job of protecting the ball in a 50-45 overtime victory over Patterson Mill in another Holly & Hoops tournament game. Barton led the Comets with 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Wallace scored five of the team's eight points in overtime.
"We just have to figure a way to stop the turnovers," Mohler said. "You shouldn't have 20 in a game. We stopped counting at 20 in the first half (against North Harford). You can't play like that."
Even with the turnovers, the Comets are difficult to stop.
Mohler will continue to rely on Wallace, Barton and a starting lineup that includes junior guard Lauren McDonald, junior forward Renee Gast and sophomore guard Andrea McTaggart.
Barton is the Comets' top player after earning all-county honors as a junior by averaging 12 points and five rebounds.
"She is our senior leader and a four-year varsity starter," Mohler said. "She has all that experience. She is a great team player, but I want her to be more selfish, and I want the ball in her hands."
Barton has been leading a team that has talent and balance.
Gast's sister, Jennifer, a 6-foot-2 freshman forward, came off the bench against North Harford and scored a team-high 10 points, including the Comets' final six points in less than three minutes. Her sister, Renee, was a force down the stretch against Patterson Mill, scoring nine of her 11 points in the fourth quarter.
And Wallace stepped up in overtime after Barton had scored 21 of her team's first 28 points.
"I think we are more athletic and deeper (than last year)," Mohler said.
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