In his 28th season as head coach of the Catonsville girls basketball team Mike Mohler realized during early practices that focusing on fundamentals was essential.
“COVID took a horrible toll on everybody and we are no different,” Mohler said. “Very few of our kids touched the ball seriously for a year and a half, almost two years and it shows. We are trying to get some things in while working on every single fundamental that we can because that is how far behind we are.”
COVID canceled the 2019-2020 season and the only returning varsity players from 2018-2019 are seniors Ashley Dickey and Marisa Massimini.
Dickey is a 5-foot-9 point guard and shooting guard.
“She has really developed, she is a big-time AAU player and she was playing competitively and it shows,” Mohler said. “She is the one that’s going to make us go.”
Dickey is the younger sister of Jasmine Dickey, who as a senior at Delaware University is leading the second leading Division I scorer in the nation with a 25.3 average. She recently scored a career-high 48 points in an 87-72 victory over Eastern Michigan.
Jasmine Dickey was a junior on Catonsville’s state championship team in 2017 and a senior on the 2018 state finalists.
Ashley Dickey was an All-County first team selection as a sophomore when the Comets finished 15-11.
“Far and away one of the best players in the area and in the county is Dickey,” Mohler said. “It’s unfair to compare her to Jasmine, but she is doing some Jasmine stuff offensively. She is really getting to the basket and she is really flying up and down the floor.”
Massimini, who also plays point guard, adds more speed to the backcourt.
“She’s a good three-sport athlete and she gives us a lot of quickness and speed,” Mohler said. “She is probably the quickest, fastest kid we have on the team.”
Massimini played soccer in the fall and will play lacrosse in the spring. She plans to play lacrosse at Stevenson University next year.
Assani Offer, a 5-10 junior transfer from St. Mary’s, has already shown strong defensive potential.
“She’s got some work to do offensively, but defensively, she is as good as we’ve ever had and maybe the best,” said Mohler, who has 535 career wins, fifth most in the state.
Senior Morgan Belt (5-10) will help in the frontcourt.
“She is our Wes Unseld. She is a really talented rebounder throws to outlet pass as well as anybody,” Mohler said.
Junior Alexis Johnson and sophomore Elie Altmann could also help underneath.
“She (Altmann) has been probably the biggest surprise,” Mohler said. “She really understands the game.”
Senior Taylor Whalen, juniors Jaelyn Howard and Leah Vacin and sophomore Emily Bartlett add depth to the backcourt.
“We are really looking for Dickey, Massimini and Offer to kind of lead us and hope the others fill a great role,” Mohler said.
The Comets open the season at Woodlawn at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 6. The first home game is Dec. 10 against Owings Mills at 5:30 p.m.