After putting season on hold, Mallards to begin competitions next week
(Feb. 5, 2021) After beginning practices in November, then taking a break until January, the Worcester Prep basketball teams will finally take the court for competition starting next week.
“Everyone is very happy to have a season,” said Director of Athletics for Worcester Preparatory School, Matt McGinnis. “It allows basketball, sports-minded kids to not miss out on this opportunity. And the seniors specifically, they get to play their last season of basketball.”
The basketball teams had a handful of practices in November, before the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference decided to put the season on hold because covid-19 numbers were rising.
Practices picked back up in January after students returned from Christmas break. Again, teams got in a few practices before last week’s winter break.
Coaches and players were all set to get back on the court this Monday, but Mother Nature had other plans as school was closed Monday through Wednesday, so there were no practices.
Teams were scheduled to practice Thursday and Friday then play in scrimmages against Greenwood Mennonite School on Saturday at Worcester in Berlin. The girls’ squad is slated to start at noon and the boys’ team at 1:30 p.m.
Many safety protocols have been put into place in order for teams to have a season.
Athletes are required to wear masks when playing and visiting teams will need to bring their own basketballs to use during warmups. Water will be provided, but each player must use their own personal water bottles.
McGinnis, who is also the president of the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference, said coaches have discussed not having a tip-off to start the games. Instead, the referee will do a coin toss and the winner will start with the ball.
In addition, no spectators will be allowed. Worcester Prep plans to live stream the games on Facebook. The athletic department live streamed games during the fall sports season and it went over well, McGinnis said.
Since public schools in Maryland are not participating in winter sports, Worcester Prep will have an abbreviated season, only playing against conference opponents, which are mainly private and Christian schools.
The girls’ team is scheduled to play six games and the boys’ squad four, followed by conference championships.
A dozen Lady Mallards are competing this season. Five are returning from last year when the team went 16-5, finishing runner-up in the conference.
“The fact that we’re even playing is just good news,” said Coach Brian McDermott. “It’s great that the girls are getting something.
The squad will be led by senior captains CC Lizas and Sophia Ludt, and junior Lily Baeurle.
“This season is about the two seniors and finding a way to make it work for them,” McDermott said. “I told the girl, ‘Let’s do it for the seniors.’”
Last year, Baeurle led the team in points (298) and assists (38). She will be the point guard this season. Lizas was second with 230 points. She led the team in rebounds (82). They both received All-Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference honors.
“I’m excited about the season. I can’t wait to start,” said McDermott, who was named ESIAC Coach of the Year at the end of last season, his first leading the Mallards. “What I’m most impressed about is the girls are doing whatever they need to do to play. They’re running with a mask on, and that’s hard.”
While the team’s goal is to win a championship and “cut down the nets,” McDermott said he also wants to build a new harmony after graduating key players.
The team plans to again play uptempo basketball, push the ball, be aggressive and stay focused. McDermott also developed a points system where the girls can see where they bring value to the team and what areas they need to work on.
“We plan to go all out,” McDermott said. “We’re not backing down. That’s what I like about Worcester Prep. [The girls go hard.”
After two seasons as an assistant coach, Pat Moylan will lead the boys’ squad this season.
He has 14 on his roster this year, seven of whom are returning from last season when the team went 10-10.
The team finished runner-up in the conference.
Five seniors are competing this year.
“It’s a very abbreviated season, but we’ll make the most of it,” Moylan said. “This year has been quite a challenge, but we’ll make the best of it.”
When they first started, the players were doing conditioning and skills drills, without contact. Moylan said recently they have been able to do some scrimmaging during practices and work on offensive and defensive sets.
“The returning guys have a good, solid fundamental idea of what I expect and what were working on,” he said. “I’m proud of how these kids came out. Their attitude, effort and enthusiasm has been great. Playing basketball with a mask on isn’t easy. They’ve responded as well as can be expected.”
Moylan said he is confident in the starting five and “probably the top eight,” he added.
“We have really good athletes,” he said. “They run and play defense exceptionally well.”
Sophomore Griffin Jones will again play point guard. Moylan said seniors Brugh Moore and Mason Brown have done a great job leading the team and keeping everyone focused.
Brown received All-Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference honors at the end of last season and led the team with 181 points.
Brice Richins, a junior this year, was presented honorable mention accolades. He was second in scoring with 162 points.
“They are just excited to play,” Moylan said. “We’ve got a core group of kids that have been in the program for a few years. They have the knowledge, now it’s just about getting back into the flow.”
The goals are to have fun and improve every day, and of course, win a championship.
“I want them to have a good time and enjoy competing, especially the kids who are seniors,” Moylan said.