It’s no secret that the Catonsville girls basketball team has been the best team in Baltimore County over the past four seasons when they have compiled a 92-15 record.
Add a state championship in 2017 and state finalist finish in 2018 and a pair of county titles (2018 and 2016) to that resume.
This year’s Comets will have a much different look on the court.
Gone are four-year varsity players Jasmine Dickey, Jameila Barrett and Stashia Daniels, as well as six other players from last year’s 23-4 squad.
“We lost 43 points and 25 rebounds, so we’ve got a lot to make up there, so we are just trying to find who can make it up,” said coach Mike Mohler, who opens his 24th season with 502 career wins.
Dickey is currently playing at the University of Delaware where she leads the 3-4 squad in rebounding (10.6 rpg.) and steals (1.7 spg.) and is third in scoring (9.9 ppg.).
Barrett has made 5 of 6 field goals in limited minutes for Norfolk State University (3-4).
The Comets return a trio of players, who logged significant minutes last year, and a fourth who was a valuable reserve underneath the basket the last two seasons.
Senior guards Gabby Douglas (5-feet, 10 inches) and Aysia Ferguson (5-5) started last season and junior Sophi Wrisk (5-9) came off the bench early.
Douglas has guided the Comets to a 72-9 record in her past three seasons as the point guard.
“Those three kids will be expected to lead us,” said Mohler, who also expects junior third-year varsity player Maddi McLean (6-2) to continue developing her inside game.
“The biggest surprise so far has been Maddi McLean. She is doing well defensively and not bad offensively. Obviously, the more she plays, the better she is going to get.”
She will have help in the frontcourt with a pair of 6-2 newcomers.
Junior Larrie Sydnor transferred in from Saint Vincent Pallotti and senior Princess Lawson came from Seton Keough after the school closed in 2017, but she didn’t play last season.
“She (Lawson) is a nice surprise,” Mohler said. “She works really hard, has good hands around the basket and can finish. She is going to get significant minutes. She is just learning our system.”
Senior Alex Green (5-8) is a returning varsity veteran who played a reserve role last season.
“She works really hard, really does a great job fundamentally on defense, we are just trying to get her to have a little more confidence offensively, but defensively, she is one of our most fundamental kids and that’s really nice,” Mohler said.
Sydnor’s younger sister, Renny, also transferred from Pallotti, but the 5-9 sophomore guard will be out until January because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“We have so many new players,” said Mohler, noting seven of the 12 players on the roster are new to the varsity.
One of them is freshman guard Ashley Dickey, Jasmine’s younger sister.
“She really has a great nose for the ball,” Mohler said.
Juniors Rianna Saunders and Kaiya Watkins-Bent and sophomore Amber McDevitt are up from JV.
McDevitt is sidelined with a sprained ankle she suffered in the first scrimmage.
“We are anxious to get her back,” Mohler said.
Catonsville opens the season on Monday, Dec. 10, at home against St. Paul’s at 5:30 p.m. and the Comets first county game is Wednesday, Dec. 12, at home against Dulaney at 5:30 p.m..
The Comets will also play Mount de Sales in the 6th annual Catonsville Cup tournament at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, Dec 15, at Catonsville High.
That will follow the Catonsville boys varsity game against Mount St. Joseph at 2 p.m.
The day begins at 10:45 with the JV girls game between Catonsville and Mount de Sales and the Catonsville JV boys play Mount St. Joe at 12:15 p.m.
Charity funds for this year’s event will be directed to Professor John P. Gearhart, M.D., Director Pediatric Urology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions,
Mohler is not sure what kind of team he will have in December, but anticipates improvement as they learn the system.
“Where last year, I knew we were good from the beginning, there was no question, this year, I believe we can be good, but we’ve got to work for it because I’m learning the kids too,” he said. “We are going to hit some bumps and bruises I would expect and I’ve got to be patient and gear to get us to play to win our division and hopefully get back to the region and try and get back to SECU if we can.”
The state tournament is held at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
Joining the full-time coaching staff this year in place of Mandy Fisher, who will be a volunteer assistant along with former Comet player Maddie Hunt, is former player Taylor Barton.
“I’m very thrilled to have Taylor, to have one of your own back and she is really committed,” said Mohler, noting Barton played at the University of Mary Washington. “The nice thing is she is right out of college, so all of her experience in college is still with her and she is bringing in a fresh perspective.”