Century basketball coach Danielle Fieni is calling this season “a huge improvement,” and it’s easy to see why.
The Knights won five games a year ago and went winless in the Carroll County Athletic League. They returned their leading scorer from that team and anticipated some success, only to struggle in the early going with three wins over their first 10 games.
That “improvement" came shortly thereafter — Century reeled off eight wins in a 10-game stretch, capped by last Friday’s victory at Liberty. The Knights lost to the Lions by 29 points the first time they played, Jan. 16, but downed their rivals 49-34 in the rematch to finish 7-5 in the CCAL.
That’s good for a tie for third place, and with an 11-10 record Century has more than doubled its win total from 2018-19. The Knights’ bid for another victory fell short Tuesday at home against Tuscarora, which did enough to win 49-46 and sour Century’s Senior Night.
There’s a larger mission at hand, however, Fieni said.
“It’s just amazing to see. They’re really buying into what we’re teaching them," said the second-year coach, who played her high school basketball at Westminster (Class of 2013) and was a Times all-county selection. “They’re starting to work as a team. I mean, [last] Friday night against Liberty, that tells it all. They’re just applying what we’re teaching and it’s all starting to come together.”
Sophomore guard Erin Mellendick had 15 points in Century’s win over Liberty, and junior guard Demma Hall added 14. Hall scored 12 on Tuesday to pace the Knights’ offense, but a cold start all-around wound up being costly.
Tuscarora led by nine points late in the third quarter before Century put together a rally. The hosts tied the score at 43-43 with 3:19 to play but didn’t score again until a 3-pointer from junior Sam Seledee in the final seconds.
Milca Borau led the Titans with 16 points, and game high, and Taniya Kufuna added 14.
Century started two sophomores Tuesday in guard Caroline Little and forward Eva Brandt, who led the CCAL in rebounds per game (10.5) going into last weekend. Brandt was also the Knights’ leading scorer at 8.7 points per game.
Century gets help on offense from senior Jess Diorio, who led the team in scoring last season, along with Mellendick and Seledee, among others.
Fieni said playing a Class 3A opponent in Tuscarora late in the regular season should serve her squad well from here. And the coach hopes a signature win such as last Friday’s can bolster her players’ confidence.
“That’s a team that we’re hoping to face in the playoffs,” Fieni said about Liberty. “That’s our goal, is to get there, to get out of our region. So it’s something definitely to look at.”