Four years ago, in Danielle Fieni’s first as coach, Century girls basketball went 5-18 and was winless in Carroll County play.
Fieni, a defensive-minded coach, looked to quickly turn around the Knights program, laying the foundation for better days ahead.
Now, those building blocks set over the years have led Century to a blistering 9-1 start.
“I’m really proud of the way that the girls are playing,” Fieni said. “Coming into this season, we had three returning starters and five returning players in total … We’ve found a way to work as a team and we’re just hoping to continue that.”
The uncertainty of the roster before the season brought question marks, including a cast of new players. Six of them had never played for Century before.
However, a core of seniors that has played together for nearly a decade has been the glue.
Their togetherness has spurred great team chemistry within the program as the newcomers seamlessly began to fit in and play well.
“Our starting five had chemistry even before the season started,” senior forward Eva Brandt said. “We’ve always incorporated the younger players and taken them under our wing. We know they’re the future of our program. That camaraderie has helped confidence on and off the court.”
Team chemistry has gone a long way with the Knights, who are riding a three-game winning streak after a tough loss to Manchester Valley.
Over the past three games, Century has beaten its opponents by an average of 25.3 points and is limiting opponents to just 29.9 points per game. That Manchester Valley loss was the lone game so far that Century has given up more than 40 points.
It was also a teaching moment.
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“It was a game that showed us our weaknesses and what we needed to improve upon,” Fieni said. “It was a game we needed to have. Up until that point, we hadn’t had a team that made us put on the brakes. It’s really helped us out over the past week and will help us moving forward.”
This season, Brandt and junior Mia Graff have been the catalysts for the Knights’ success. Through the first eight games, Brandt was averaging 11 points, 15.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game while Graff was averaging 12 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2 steals and 2.3 blocks.
The two have been one of the most dynamic duos in Carroll County this season.
“One of my goals coming into the season was rebounding and converting more offensive rebounds into points,” Graff said. “That’s one of the things that I think Eva and I have done well. That chemistry has been really effective on the court.”
Moving forward, with Century now 3-1 in county play, the key for sustained success is consistency and composure, the coach and players said. The Knights are looking to utilize that level of energy to attack the rest of the season with the same aggression and success they’ve had to date.
“In that Man Valley loss, we became too individual and didn’t focus enough on our defense, which we pride ourselves on,” Brandt said. “The more consistent we are with sticking to our game plan holistically instead of individually, the better we’ll be.”
The Knights face Liberty on the road Tuesday night.