Danielle Fieni hopes to implement a lot of positivity within Century’s girls basketball program this season.
That positivity is motivated by heart and hard work — two qualities Fieni, the Knights’ first-year coach, said will help the girls improve and get to where they want to be.
The Knights dropped their first two games of the season, against Williamsport and Atholton, but welcomed Glenelg on Monday with a strong bout of intensity and a 12-0 first-half run to top the Gladiators 35-27.
“I think we showed a lot of confidence and that confidence kept us in the game and kept us from making plays we probably shouldn’t have,” Knights forward Emily Kain said. “We were willing to go to the ball and were willing to take the shots.”
Junior guard Jessica Diorio led the way with nine points for the Knights. Demma Hall scored four points and added four steals, and Eva Brandt notched two points and six rebounds.
Fieni said local feeder programs, such as the Freedom Area Basketball League, have helped the Knights acquire their talent, a benefit to getting girls involved in the sport at a young age. The Knights also host a basketball camp every year, and Kain, the team’s lone senior, plays with freshmen and sophomores she recognized from different camp sessions in the past.
“We’re getting them more involved, going to games, getting them to come see what we’re about so when the girls come they already know what we’re running and what our philosophy is,” Fieni said. “With the AAU programs, a lot of these girls have joined on to a team and are getting the basketball outside of the season which is important.”
The Knights won three county games last season and went 7-16 under coach Heather Semies. Century has seen three coaches in as many years — John Ingram coached the Knights for two years prior to Semies’ arrival in 2017.
Fieni, a 2013 Westminster High School grad and former Times first-team all-countian, said the girls have been steadily buying in to a new system and she is seeing it progress as the season unfolds.
“Personally, I think we’re getting a lot better because we’re a lot more conditioned this year,” Diorio said. “I feel like we’re a lot more faster, which gives us a good advantage on the court. We [also] have a lot of young players so I think we’re working well together.”
The girls haven’t played together for very long, Kain said, but they feel a lot more confident so far and it’s starting to show on the court.
Century never lost the lead Monday night against Glenelg, and a pair of points from Diorio sparked the team’s 12-0 run that fed into the second half of the game. The Gladiators were held to five points until they sank a 3-pointer to trim the team’s deficit to 18-8 late in the second frame.
The Knights went 9-for-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, while the Gladiators (0-2) made five of seven shots.
“They need to be pushing themselves all the time, 110 percent,” Fieni said. “I think that will get them so far. We have a lot of athletes on this team who want to work hard but it’s important to bring that heart piece of how bad are you willing to do what it takes, whether it’s diving on the floor, pushing somebody out even though you know they’re bigger than you, so just getting them to have that mentality will get them so far.”