Injuries can't derail Carlynton's quest to resuscitate program
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Conor Richardson is back.
The same can be said for the rest of the Carlynton girls basketball team.
Despite a laundry list of injuries, the Cougars are winning games at such a steady and impressive pace that it's conjuring up memories of the mid-2000s, when Carlynton was a girls basketball power.
“We try to look back at our past,” coach Tim Bonner said. “We have a great tradition.
“We always end with, ‘1-2-3-glory' because we want to return to where we were back in the earlier days.”
Carlynton (12-3, 7-1 Section 6-AA) has a balanced lineup, but it's hard to ignore the importance of Richardson, who's averaging 20 points per game.
A 5-foot-10 junior who shines on both ends of the floor, Richardson missed her sophomore season with a torn ACL in her right knee.
“I've learned to love it more,” said Richardson, who also averages 4.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds. “It was taken away from me for a whole year, you know? I just really love the game, and it feels great to be back.”
Carlynton won the 2003-04 WPIAL Class AA title and made the playoffs the next season. But that was followed by a stretch of six coaching changes in eight seasons and just two wins in 2009-10.
Bonner, a Carlynton lifer, took over before last season and helped snap a seven-year playoff drought. The Cougars scored a preliminary-round win over Charleroi before falling to Burrell in the WPIAL Class AA first round.
“We've put in so much work,” junior forward Jordan Melko said. “It's starting to pay off. We play really well together and have great chemistry.”
Which is a coincidence given how many injuries Carlynton has endured this season.
Returning starter Hannah Murray was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury Dec. 22, 2013. Melko missed time with a concussion, Alexis Kowal with a broken finger and Abby Diulus with back problems.
Still, Carlynton has averaged 53.1 points, scoring 70 or more four times.
“Our kids have not changed their goals,” Bonner said.
Besides Richardson, Melko is second on the team at 8.5 points per game. Taking over for Murray, freshman Ashleigh Wilson has contributed 7.1 points per game. Four-year starter Jazz Meredith is chipping in 5.7, sophomore Abigail Greiner 4.8.
Kowal has been another pleasant surprise as a freshman, along with Wilson, and Bonner praised Mackenzie Mangum's versatility. She's played everywhere but point guard this season, Bonner said.
“Luckily we have girls on our team who have been stepping up to help us because we have been broken down a little bit,” Melko said. “It's making our team stronger.”
Restoring a winning tradition is usually enough to keep a group busy, but with all the injuries, Carlynton has had a few additional challenges.
“I know when you're dealing with high school kids, they get sick, they get hurt,” Bonner said. “I'm not crying about it. I know that's part of the game. You just have to overcome, and I'm proud of our girls for how much they've been able to overcome.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.