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February 5, 2014

Center Line girls basketball making waves with its defense

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Center Line girls basketball making waves with its defense
The Center Line High girls basketball team has been one of the best defensive teams in the MAC the last two seasons. Pictured is Center Line sophomore Erin Bracey, left, taking a runner during a game against St. Clair Shores Lakeview.

CENTER LINE — When going up against the Center Line High girls basketball team, opposing squads have been hard-pressed to get easy buckets the last two seasons.

The Panthers at press time had allowed just 31.5 points per game. That number is second to Fraser’s 29.1 points allowed per game in the 36-team Macomb Area Conference. Center Line allowed a miniscule 27.4 points per contest last season and finished 17-3.

The Panthers sat at 7-4, 5-1 MAC Silver at press time.

“We’ve never had the biggest or most athletic teams, but one constant has been our defensive mindset,”

Panthers coach Trevor Warczinsky said. “This approach has led to some success, and this year’s team is no different.

“Each player has completely bought in to our defensive approach. We devote a great deal of our practice time to emphasizing defensive fundamentals, and these kids have done a great job with it.”

Center Line primarily plays man defense. The team looks to play a fast position defense (where Panthers players beat the opposition to a particular spot) to create turnovers, which Warczinsky said leads to easy baskets, in theory.

Center Line at press time was outscoring opponents by 14.3 points per game.

“This team believes that our success begins with their effort defensively,” Warczinsky said. “There are many aspects of this game that are out of our control. However, the effort and toughness we put into playing defense is something we can control. These kids understand this philosophy and have a lot of pride in what they do on the defensive end.”

Warczinsky preaches team defense, and his concepts rely on everyone who’s on the floor doing their job and supporting one another — understanding that one person may be get beat but that there are four others rotating to help.

Sophomore Erin Bracey, Warczinsky said, will typically be assigned to the opposition’s best player. Bracey is very solid defensively  on the ball and in help-situations, he said. Seniors Haley Boccomino and Madison Lanzon also provide leadership for the team.

“(Boccomino) may be the toughest player I’ve ever coached. She’s a player you love to have on your team but is a terror to play against,” Warczinsky said. “(Lanzon) is fundamentally sound and does all of the little things, like taking charges.”

Junior Jade Smith, sophomore Alyssa Flores and junior Cierra Mendelson also provide solid play for the Panthers.

The team last won a division title in 2010. Center Line missed out on a league title by one game last season and raising a banner was a goal coming into this year.

“Last year was a success but disappointing in that we didn’t win the league,” Warczinsky said. “So we’re working hard to achieve that goal. We’re sitting in a good position to do that, but we understand there is a lot of work ahead.

“We’ll need to stay focused and approach each game as if the league championship is on the line. I’m confident in these kids, and I’m excited about the second half of our season.”

Center Line’s next tip is at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 against East Detroit at Center Line.