Halfway through this season, the Cedar Park Christian-Mountlake Terrace girls basketball team already has surpassed its average of 7.2 wins per year over the past five seasons.
The Lions were 9-0 going into Monday night’s game and had outscored their opponents by an average of nearly 32 points per game, while limiting them to just 16.8 points per contest.
It marks a massive turnaround from when the program suffered through a winless 2011-12 season and lost all 11 league games in 2014-15.
One major difference from previous years is that CPC, a Class 1B school, moved from the Northwest 2B/1B League to the Northwest 1B prior to this season, meaning that the Lions now play against similarly sized schools.
But that’s certainly not the only reason behind CPC’s success.
“I think we pass the ball extremely well and play defense,” said CPC coach Bill Kelley, who has a long history of coaching high school basketball. “In all the years I’ve coached, I don’t know that I’ve had a team that was better at moving the ball. They just do a great job of really zipping it around and looking for the open person. … (And) we’ve got a pretty good-sized front line that can all rebound and score.”
The Lions are led by senior Salome Yosef, a versatile 6-foot center whose family is from Ethiopia. Yosef averages 24 points, 12.4 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.
“She’s just done fantastically well,” Kelley said. “She has just worked on her game every year and gotten better and better and better.
“It’s tough to guard her, because she’s playing center, blocking shots, getting rebounds and then she beats everybody down court,” Kelley added. “She’s got beautiful post moves, she can hit the outside shot and she can handle the ball as well, so she’s a very complete player.”
CPC has been able to achieve its success despite a roster of just seven players, which poses its share of challenges. The small roster places an emphasis on avoiding foul trouble and limits the Lions to a mostly halfcourt style of play. It also means the team’s coaches and manager have to participate during practices to give the Lions a full 10 players.
But, Kelley added, “one of the great things about having so few kids is each of them knows how important they are to the team’s success. Some teams will say they have one or two indispensable players, but we have seven indispensable players. We need them all.”