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Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School (CHS) student-athletes play a huge role in the development and success of our school programs.

Several athletes in particular out-performed the rest, taking the next step with their education and athletic career in pursuing their respective sports at the collegiate level.

Nine students at CHS signed their letters of intent to commit to being a student-athlete after graduation this spring: Melanie Topper—Hood College Basketball, RJ Mellor—Messiah College Lacrosse, Cam Baumgardner—Kutztown University Track and Field, Raegan Smith—Salisbury University Softball, Hunter Grimes—Saint Vincent College Football/Lacrosse, Ashley Mayton—Shepherd University Softball, Derek Rivera—Hagerstown Community College Golf, Victoria Bryant—Stevenson University Volleyball, Caitlyn Naff—University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Volleyball.

These students spent all year working and competing with their teams to prove to colleges and universities that they are ready to move forward with their athletic and academic careers, and that is something that did not go unnoticed by coaches, friends, and fans. 

Less than 17 percent of all high school athletes pursue collegiate sports, so these select few who are able and willing to push forward are surely something special.

All nine athletes signed together and took pictures with their coaches, family, and friends at the high school’s annual signing day. The balance between studies and athletics can be difficult to manage, but each Catoctin High athlete has proven they can compete and succeed in both, and they will look to continue that trend over the coming years. Congratulations to the athletes and families, and keep making the Catoctin Area proud!

Pictured from left are: (sitting) Melanie Topper, RJ Mellor, Cam Baumgardner, Raegan Smith, Hunter Grimes, Ashley Mayton, Derek Rivera, Victoria Bryant, and Caitlyn Naff; (standing) Girl’s Basketball Coach Amy Entwistle, Boy’s Lacrosse Coach Neil Metzgar, Football Coach Doug Williams, Softball Coach Jessica Valentine, Golf Coach Tyler Auscherman, and Volleyball Coach Sherry Levering.

Blair Garrett

April is upon us. The sun is shining, the last remnants of snow are finally withering away, and the faint sound of kids flocking to the ball fields are off in the distance. With the start of Little League season just a few days away, kids between ages 4-12 across Emmitsburg and Thurmont are breaking in the mitts getting their first taste of Spring baseball for 2019.

For years now, baseball has been the pinnacle of success for the local youth leagues, with Thurmont Little League teams winning multiple accolades and providing kids an opportunity to explore the sport of baseball in a fun and encouraging environment.

Thurmont Little League supports four teams: Tee ball, Instructional League, Minor League and Major (Little) League. Kids are separated by age where they learn everything from the basics of the game to the mechanics of becoming a great baseball player.

Over just the past few years, Thurmont baseball teams have become the 2015 and 2016 9/10 state champions, 2016 Little League District II Champions, 2017 9-11 District II Champions, 2017 Little League District II and Maryland State Champions.

Winning has followed this program for years now, and the Thurmont Little League will look to replicate that success come Opening Day on April 6. The involvement from players to coaches and down to the parents has given families a great outlet to teach and grow with their young little leaguers and may just be the foundation to the club’s success. 

The Thurmont Little League was established in 1952 and continues to be a driving force behind the love of the game of baseball in the Catoctin Area for kids year after year.

Registration may be closed for the upcoming season, but showing support at Leisner Field of the Thurmont Little League Complex is always welcome and appreciated. Come support your community and your favorite little leaguers as the teams aim for Little League glory once again.

Blair Garrett

The Madness is underway, and while some of our brackets were devastated from day one, there are still a few of us who keep marching on. As upsets mount and top-seeded teams fall left and right, let’s take a look at the updated bracket after last week’s round one chaos.

The chances of picking a perfect bracket are almost a mathematical impossibility, but that doesn’t stop us from trying and failing every year. Picking the perfect bracket is so difficult, in fact, that nobody has ever done it, and there is a near guaranteed chance that nobody ever will.

The numbers are hard to quantify based on strength of teams and other variables, and strictly from a statistical stand point, the 64-team tournament has over 9.2 quintillion possible outcomes (one quintillion is one billion billions). That is several quintillion more than there are grains of sand on earth per

As one can imagine, with the nearly incalculable amount of bracket possibilities, March Madness fanatics barely scathe even a fraction of a percentage of all bracket outcomes each year. But just how crazy is the USA for college basketball’s most electric tournament? Estimates for 2019 exceed 70 million people will put their wallets and pride on the line for a tournament that is notorious for its upsets, high-octane pace, and electric finishes. So, to all who are participating in this year’s March Madness Bracket Challenge, best of luck. You’re going to need it.

*The Catoctin Banner’s Bracket challenge features locals from across the Catoctin Area, and the winning bracket will be featured in the May edition of The Catoctin Banner. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss out on future challenges, and you could be featured in our next edition of The Catoctin Banner!

Blair Garrett

As temperatures rise, the snow begins to melt, and February comes to a close, high school spring sports will be kicking into high gear.

A cast of new athletes are coming in to provide Catoctin High athletics spring sports teams with the energy, drive, and dedication to be successful on and off the field. Catoctin spring sports include: boys baseball, girls softball, boys and girls lacrosse, and tennis.

Baseball. The Cougars look to improve on last season’s 6-4 record. The team has multiple matchups versus Boonsboro and Brunswick on its plate, which may be the deciding factor for the success of Catoctin High’s season. With a crop of talented athletes across the field, Catoctin Baseball appears to have another strong season in the works. The season tees off  March 21, against familiar foe Gov. Thomas Johnson.

Softball. Catoctin Softball’s 11-4 2018 season was a smashing success, and the team hopes to replicate its winning ways for the 2019 campaign. The team was bounced by the Bohemia Manor Eagles in the Maryland Girls Softball State Championships, but the Cougars’ trail back to the playoffs runs through its rivalry games early in the season.

Boys Lacrosse. Catoctin Lacrosse struggled across the board last season, but with a fresh team, fresh year, and a fresh mindset, the boys head into the 2019 season with the goal to continue improving. Getting off to a strong start might make the difference for the Cougars. The team kicks off its season in an away game on March 26 against Gov. Thomas Johnson.

Girls Lacrosse. After a rough previous season, Catoctin Girls Lacrosse has its sights set on a new start, as the team kicks off its season versus North Hagerstown on March 21. A win in the first game of the season could turn the tides and build confidence for the team moving forward.

Tennis. Catoctin Tennis kicks off with back-to-back matches March 21 and March 22 in back-to-back exhibition matches against local rivals, Boonsboro and Linganore. The team will look to get back into the win column after its hot start last season.

Blair Garrett

A scorching hot second half led the Mount to its biggest win of the season, smashing conference rivals Robert Morris University, 76-62.

The Mount struggled to keep consistent pressure in the first half, with RMU taking an early stranglehold on the game. Robert Morris clung to a double-digit lead for the majority of the first half, battling the Mountaineers up and down the court for every possession.

Mount St. Mary’s pushed back, closing the gap to a three-possession game just before the buzzer sounded for the first half. After a halftime show filled with dancing, fun, and dogs doing double dutch jump rope, the crowd was fired up, and so was the Mount to go out and finish the game strong.

That’s exactly what they did, firing off an explosive start, putting up a 10-2 run to even up the scores. The Mount looked dominant on offense, threatening quality scoring chances on every drive, but they were even stronger on the defensive side of the ball.

As the Mountaineers turned up the pressure with its full-court press, Robert Morris shooting percentages plummeted, and turnovers became their Achilles heel. The tides were officially turned on a defensive clinic put on by freshman guard Damian Chong Qui, who stole the ball at the Robert Morris baseline and immediately fed the ball with a no-look pass to Omar Habwe, who was waiting just inside the paint to slam it home.

Hawbe’s dunk came at the perfect time, igniting the crowd and the offense when Mount St. Mary’s momentum was peaking. The defender watched helplessly as Habwe slammed the basked out of his reach, prompting the bench to storm the court after a Robert Morris timeout.

The Colonials never recovered throughout the rest of the game, getting outscored 45-24 in the second half and failing to put together consistent pressure. The Mount kept its foot on the gas, thwarting the Robert Morris offense at every turn.

Mount St. Mary’s guard Vado Morse led the charge all game, sinking critical shots to continue propelling the Mount to victory. Morse ended the game with a game-high 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists.

The defining difference in the game was Mount St. Mary’s ability to transition quickly into offense, leaving Robert Morris struggling to keep up. The Mount outscored RMU 11-0 in points on fast breaks, and the team’s bench put up a staggering 21 points, one of its best totals on the season.

Forward Dee Barnes had a few important contributions off the bench, but none at a better time than his four-point play with the score knotted at 43. Barnes drained a three, getting fouled on the play, and put the free throw home to grab a lead for the Mount that it would hold for the rest of the game.

The win was particularly sweet as RMU had defeated the Mount in a nail biter earlier in the season, giving the team a bit of redemption with the final games of the season approaching. As February comes to a close and March rolls in, the team will be looking toward playoff season and hopes to carry momentum from the team’s win over RMU into the postseason.      

The Mount’s Vado Morse drives the lane en route to a 21-point game.

The CYA Basketball 2nd Annual Shoot-A-Thon event was held on Sunday, February 10, 2019, at Catoctin High School. It was a great success. Committee members planned an action-packed, fun-filled day for all the players that participated. The Shoot-A-Thon featured concessions, music, a face painter, and a bunch of high-fives and hugs. There were plenty of smiles, great shots, entertaining games, and community bonding that conveyed the spirit of our Cougar family.  

CYA is pleased to announce the raising of $9,600 from the event. In addition, over 500 non-perishable canned foods were collected that were donated to the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Food Banks.

Prizes were awarded for highest percentage foul shots made in seven groups, as well as the highest fundraiser. Winners were recognized at the Lady Cougars last home game of the season on February 15. Congratulations to all the winners: Austin Van Echo, Raegan Smith, Ethan Tokar, Corine Jewell, Kourtney Bell, Parker Davis, Colton Gray, Cooper Wiles, Dalton Reed, Abbey Shaffer, Melanie Topper, Drew Nicholson, Derek Nicholson, Jacob Kiltsch, Kaydense Cox, Eli Yocum, Emily Wetzel, Kamryn Goodin, Ava Ganjon, Paige Sweeney, and Brayden Grable. Winners of the canned food raffle include Olivia Morroni, Eli Yocum, Logan Berg, and Chase Cregger.

Student volunteers with the canned goods collected during the CYA Basketball 2nd Annual Shoot-A-Thon.

Blair Garrett

Senior Night for the Catoctin High girls basketball team (pictured above) went off without a hitch, as seniors for the Cougars led the team to a 41-28 victory.

Head Coach Amy Entwistle led the team’s senior ceremony, offering kind and inspiring words for each graduating player on the roster. “I’m so proud to share the court with each and every one of you.”

Each senior lined up beside their families, receiving the commendation and acknowledgment they deserve for the time and effort they put in week after week for the team.

“If my kids grow up to be half as good as you guys, I will have done my job,” Coach Entwistle said.  

After the ceremony, the team reconvened in the locker room to resume its usual pregame routine. This one, however, had a bit of a different feel, as each senior stormed the court for the team’s final home game of the season.

Senior players included Olivia Crum, Drucilla Long, Melanie Topper, Kelly Glass, and Raegan Smith, who all took part in the starting lineup in the team’s senior night showdown against Clear Spring.

The game got off to a rocky start for the Cougars, faltering a bit in the first quarter; but, thanks to the team’s veteran core and leadership, the team settled down and began to shut Clear Spring’s offense down.

Pressure was the key for closing down the shooting lanes against Clear Spring, with Catoctin’s star players taking over and forcing turnovers to take the lead and hold it throughout the rest of the game.

Clear Spring was held without scoring through a lengthy stretch of the second quarter, struggling to get clean shots off against the Cougars. Catoctin’s Melanie Topper and Raegan Smith played a big part in forcing Clear Spring to play their game, allowing the team’s offense to start taking over.

Freshman Emma Wivell stepped up big for Catoctin, driving the lane and jumpstarting the Cougars off to a sizeable lead just before the second half.

As the buzzer for the third quarter sounded, the Cougars again came out flying, outscoring their opponents 15-2 in a remarkable run. Catoctin held Clear Spring to just six points over the course of the second and third quarter, effectively neutralizing the team’s offense for half the game. Catoctin closed out the rest of the game smoothly, logging a 13-point victory for the team’s second win over Clear Spring this season, and its ninth win of the year.

Catoctin finished the year against one of its toughest opponents, Oakdale, dropping the away match 50-30 to cap off the season. The Cougars finished 9-13, but bounced back after a tough start to the season to go on a tremendous run through the month of January. 

The season has officially wrapped up for Catoctin. But the future is bright for the Cougars, and with the dedication and commitment the 2018-19 senior class showed, next year’s group has all the tools to have yet another strong season.

Catoctin’s Melanie Topper looks for an open target.

Blair Garrett

Men’s Basketball

With a little more than half the season in the books for the Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball team, it’s time to take a look at the season as a whole thus far.

The team’s sub .500 record may be deceiving for the time being, with the strength of schedule heavily weighted at the beginning of the season; however, there is plenty to look forward to for the Mount throughout the rest of the season.

Mount St. Mary’s has just broken into its most important stretch of games, though, taking on a fleet of in-conference opponents in the coming weeks, where wins are as valuable as gold for the Mountaineers.

While playing just a handful of conference opponents so far this season, the Mount has played promising basketball and displayed flashes of what could make them a consistent machine on the court. The Mountaineers picked up their first conference win Saturday, January 19 against Wagner College, defeating the Seahawks in enemy territory for the first time since 2014.

The Mount has been getting solid contributions from freshmen Vado Morse and Damian Chong Qui, who are both averaging over 13 PPG (points per game) so far this season. Another spot of positivity for Mount St. Mary’s is the team’s 3-point shooting, which has been the bread and butter for the team in building leads in games.

The Mount cruised to a 16-point lead in the first half against conference opponents Central Connecticut, thanks to some stellar shooting from beyond the arc. Sustaining that shooting consistency for the entirety of the game has been a struggle, though, as the team fell off in the second half, ultimately dropping a close game to the Blue Devils.

There are still plenty of positives for this Mount St. Mary’s team to take away from the season. With the youth of this squad beginning to shine, it is only a matter of time until the routine and consistency becomes a staple for this squad, as the players continue to develop into a cohesive unit.

In the midst of a long home stretch for the Mount, the team looks to continue racking up wins in Knott Arena, but improvement on the road will be key for the Mountaineers going forward.

Women’s Basketball

Home court advantage has been a major factor for the women’s basketball team this season, posting a positive win record playing in front of the Emmitsburg faithful.

The energy from the crowd has powered the Mountaineers to post up 80 points three times this season at Knott Arena, with all three of those games resulting in a win.

The Mount has understandably not fared quite as well on the road, winning four of seven games outside of the team’s home court, with several of those losses at the hands of high-caliber opponents like Michigan University and Virginia Tech. 

With the conference games just kicking off, the recipe for the Mount is the same. Stacking wins in close games against conference rivals is a must if the team hopes to make a postseason push in the final few weeks of the season.

The women’s team sports a dynamic threat of youth and veteran scoring, giving the team balance throughout the lineup. Senior guard Juliette Lawless leads the team averaging nearly 18 PPG, with freshman Michaela Harrison and Sophomore Daly Sullivan following with 11.3 and 10.8 PPG, respectively.

With just a few weeks left in the regular season, the team is going to be relying heavily on its star players to continue performing night after night to keep the wins rolling in. Limiting defensive mistakes and capitalizing on the team’s strong 3-point game has worked for the Mountaineers so far this season, with five players clipping above 30 percent, and three of those shooting 36 percent or better.

The team’s upcoming stretch of rivalry games will prove to be the defining portion of the Mount’s season. In the coming weeks, Mount St. Mary’s faces off for the second time this season against Wagner College, Saint Francis University and Robert Morris, where the Mount will look to put some distance between themselves in the conference standings.        


Guard Damian Chong Qui added 11 points and a team-high seven assists in the team’s loss to Central Connecticut.

Blair Garrett

The Catoctin High School girls basketball team has seen the highs and lows of a season, but some off-court adjustments have turned their season around.

Head Coach Amy Entwistle knows the ins and outs of playing tactical defense, rebound control, and running an offense, but the team’s December struggles may have been stemming from some chemistry and confidence issues.

The team won just one game throughout the holiday season, but the Cougars have been electric in January, holding a 6-1 record over the past seven games.

“This month has been huge for us,” Entwistle said. “December was a learning process. We only won one game.” The growth of the team can be attributed more to the players’ mental game than tweaking shooting mechanics or strategizing differently. “They did a great job of trusting the process and working hard every day. Our goal is to get better every day, and this month is a testament to staying positive.”

The drastic improvement in play has many pieces to it, but the backbone of the success the Cougars have seen during January has been built on the comradery and team-building exercises the coaching staff has implemented.

“We’re actually reading a book as a program called the Energy Bus. It just talks about how to remain positive, but it’s more in persevering,” Entwistle said. “We had a lot of struggles and adversity in December. They stayed positive, they persevered, and we’re focused on what we can control, not what we can’t.”

Everyone from the coaching staff to the players to the parents have bought in to the system. “Even some of the parents are reading the book now,” said Entwistle.

The team has developed around the off-the-court changes, and the results are clear. “Our Saturday practices now have maybe 45 minutes of shooting, and then we, as a program, go up to the library with the JV and Varsity and do a book study with activities,” Entwistle said. “At the end of the day, do we want to win? Absolutely. But we also want to prepare them for beyond the basketball court.”

The team has a few key rematches in the coming weeks that could make or break the season for the Cougars. Catoctin High’s next home match-up is against Brunswick on February 5 at 7:00 p.m.

Player Of The Month

Catoctin’s Raegan Smith is your high school player of the month for January. Smith is averaging 9.4 PPG and a team-high 8.3 rebounds per game. Smith is a senior at Catoctin, and her on- and off-court dedication to the game has been a pivotal reason for the team’s success as of late. Nearly averaging a double-double in PPG and rebounds, Smith is not only putting up strong offensive performances, but she has continued to contribute on the defensive end of the court, too. Smith tallies two steals per game as well. Congrats to your high school Player Of The Month, Raegan Smith!

Blair Garrett

The young guns have begun to click under new head coach Dan Engelstad.

The Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball team has picked up its first two wins of the season in back-to-back victories against Wilson College and American University, bringing the team back on track after a rocky start.

The wins are Engelstad’s first as the bench boss for The Mount, and after navigating the waters of its toughest stretch of the season by facing some of the nation’s top teams on the road, the squad has come out the other side stronger and ready for more challenges.

With The Mount sporting an entire roster of underclassmen, the team was expecting to deal with struggles playing as a complete team, but the progress thus far has been apparent, and the Moutaineers are poised for a strong second half of the season.

“If you look at where we started,  from the summer to where we are now, just the improvement has been considerable,” Engelstad said. “We’re competing at a higher level.” 

Fortunately for Mount St. Mary’s, their first in-conference game does not come until the new year, giving the team more valuable time to cultivate the chemistry and consistency needed to compete in crucial games against the league’s toughest opponents.

Consistency has been a major point of focus for the team, heading into the most important part of the season. The ability to create a lead and continue to push the pace through the second half has been emphasized through the locker room and looks to be a key factor in the success of this young team.

“The biggest struggle we’re having is putting it together for a full 40 minutes, and that’s something with the youth,” Engelstad said. “We’re trying to close our gaps and big runs from the opponent.”

With the team securing some momentum from the team’s recent resurgence, there seems to be a sense of excitement throughout the group for what is to come.  

“Our season is broken down into three seasons,” Engelstad said. “You have non-conference, conference games, and playoffs, so the fact that we’ve battled against some really high level opponents bodes well for us going into the games where the competition isn’t as strong as we’ve faced.”

The road difficulties and strength of schedule during the early weeks of the season may end up playing right into the hands of The Mount, allowing Engelstad’s squad to head into conference matchups carrying confidence and a level of experience competing against world-class talent. “We feel like we’re battle tested,” he said.

Individual performances have given the team waves of momentum, but as The Mount turns the page into 2019, developing that effort and experience into closing out games with a vicegrip on the lead will prove that the hard work, day in and day out, is finally paying off.

“There’s a lot of optimism in our group in what we can accomplish in the league,” Engelstad said. “We just know that if we’re going to do anything, we’ve got to keep getting better every day, every practice and every game, and there’s a great opportunity to keep improving.”

Sophomore Jalen Gibbs scored a career-high 30 points in the team’s first win of the season over Wilson College.

Photo by Blair Garrett

Before the Catoctin High Varsity Girls Basketball game on Thursday, December 20, 2018, the gymnasium was more crowded than usual as alumni girls basketball players attended a special ceremony to commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary.

Other sports will hold similar events, some during their senior night games. The following are Catoctin High School’s Senior and Alumni Nights for winter 2019 sporing events: Swimming—January 7; Wrestling—January 8 (alumni night) and February 6 (senior night); Unified Bocce—January 24; Boys Basketball—February 8 (senior night) and February 12 (alumni night); Girls Basketball—February 15 (senior night); and Indoor Track—February 8.

Any former players and coaches are invited back for Alumni Nights.

Blair Garrett

From hometown day job to high-flying national wrestler, Bill Bain of Thurmont has made a name for himself in the wrestling scene.

Bain has performed in various local shows, but he just recently made his biggest splash in the wrestling scene to-date, taking his talents to Monday Night Raw. Bain’s appearance on Raw put him in the spotlight of one of the hottest topics the show has ever seen.

The week before, former Olympian and WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle had returned to set himself up to the championship match by defeating the acting WWE General Manager, Baron Corbin. Angle had survived the 10-man battle royale to face against Corbin, overthrowing the GM to be the last man standing in a golden conquistador outfit.

Bain took over the following week, sporting the very same golden conquistador outfit, staring down a two vs. one against some stiff competition.

“Kurt Angle tricked them by putting me under the mask, and I ended up having the match against the Authors of Pain,” Bain said.

After Bain’s identity was revealed, Kurt Angle himself appeared, Angle slamming Corbin once more.

“It was about two minutes long, but still in front of about fifteen thousand people, and it’s gotten eight million views online and five million people watching,” Bain said. “It’s my biggest exposure in wrestling so far.”

Bain’s recent success stems from many hours spent performing in wrestling gigs all around the east coast.

“I got involved in wrestling sixteen years ago because I was a fan growing up,” Bain said. “I did smaller, independent shows all over the east coast, and then in 2009 is when WWE contacted me for some opportunities to work with them.”

October’s performance was not Bain’s first stint with the WWE. The Thurmont-based wrestler faced off against Vladimir Kozlov in 2009, starting just the beginning of his rise to fame in the wrestling community.

Although Bain has performed with the WWE before, each time is special in its own way.

“There’s definitely a big difference walking out in front of ten or twelve thousand people,” Bain said. “My friends and family have showed the video to plenty of people.”

Bain’s Monday Night Raw appearance was short and sweet, but hopefully not the last we’ll see of the new conquistador.

The identity of “El Conquistador” was revealed on Monday Night Raw to be Thurmont’s Bill Bain.

Courtesy Photo

Blair Garrett

The young guns are finding their groove for the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball team.

The Mount has gotten off to a rocky start during the early stretch of road games, but the season is still young, and the team has been navigating its way through the toughest part of its season.

Finding rhythm with a new team, a new system, and a new coach is never easy, but the learning process so far has forced the playmakers of The Mount to expedite the feeling-out process and begin learning just how to play Mount St. Mary’s basketball.

With the team being entirely comprised of underclassmen, adjustments and team chemistry have to be made and created on the fly, allowing little time to learn systems and strategies necessary to build a competitive team.

But under first year head coach Dan Engelstad, the team is coming along just fine, despite what its record may say.

Seven of the Mount’s first eight games have them hitting the road to face off against quality opponents like Maryland and North Carolina State, but the team made its home debut November 21 against the North Carolina A&T Aggies.

The Mountaineers’ first half was electric, clawing back to force multiple lead changes and working plays down low to their big forwards for easy scores. The team’s offensive rebounding was causing relentless pressure, and second and third chances for the team’s point scorers to capitalize.

Mount forward Nana Opoku was creating havoc down low, snagging everything that came his way, helping Mount St. Mary’s cultivate a 31-27 lead at halftime. Opoku finished the game with 11 points and 9 rebounds, just missing out on completing the double-double.

North Carolina A&T came out guns blazing in the second half, though, storming off on a 22-7 run to take a lead they would not give back up for the rest of the game.

The Mount had no quit to their game, with freshman guard Vado Morse punishing the Aggies from beyond the arc, hitting 80 percent of his threes to add to his team-leading 17 points. Sophomore guard Jalen Gibbs also had a strong game, sinking 15 points of his own and beginning to develop a strong 1-2 punch with Morse.

Despite Morse’s second-half streak, the Aggies’ offense continued rolling, cruising to a 74-60 victory and sending the Mount to 0-5 on the season.

Even with the home loss, the team has stretches where the offense looks dominant and the defense is tenacious. The key to getting that first win is the consistency to sustain that pressure for the entirety of the game.

As the season progresses on, The Mount will be looking for the home-town crowd to provide the energy that ignited their first-half spark against NC A&T. The team’s next home match tips off Saturday, December 8, against Lehigh University.

The Mount’s strong first half defense held North Carolina A&T to just 28 points in the first frame.

Photo by Blair Garrett

Blair Garrett

The road to the NCAA Tournament is paved by overcoming challenges, game after game.

Whether it’s a heated rivalry game or a shootout against a top team, each opponent must be approached with a game plan for success.

With the 2018-19 NCAA Men’s basketball season fast approaching, the Mount St. Mary’s team has just a few days left to fine tune its offensive and defensive strategies before the start of its climb back to the team’s ultimate goal: competing for a national title.

“A big key to this season is going to be how we handle the tough times and the adversity,” said Head Coach Dan Engelstad. “Every season, you’re going to hit it, and with our schedule, we’re going to play some really tough teams early, and how our team stays the course is going to be a really big factor for us.”

With a new head coach and a team entirely made up of freshmen and sophomores, there is plenty of room for growth as the season progresses. But what this Mount St. Mary’s squad may lack in experience, they make up for in explosiveness, tenacity, and a solid game plan.

“We are young, but we have some really nice talent,” Engelstad said. “We think we’re going to be able to play fast, play up-tempo, get after you on the defensive end.”

Just two seasons ago, the Mount made the leap that every Division I basketball team hopes for: playing for a national title. Mount St. Mary’s entered the dance as a 16 seed and faced off against No. 1 seeded, Villanova University, keeping up a competitive first half before eventually falling to the Wildcats.

While the team’s tournament did not have a fairytale ending, it did prove that Mount St. Mary’s was not out of place competing at the highest level, and that competitive level is something the Mount is going to have to replicate this coming season to make a deep run into the post-season.

The entire team, from the players to the coaches, know the season begins even before the team’s first game. “What we bring [to practice] every day is going to be directly reflective of what happens on the court,” Engelstad said.

Experts and league officials are not carrying high expectations this season for Mount St. Mary’s, but embracing the underdog storyline is something Engelstad and the team can get behind. “I like having a chip on our shoulder and something to prove, and we’re trying to instill that with our young guys. We like that.”

Finding that rhythm early is going to be key for the Mount as it enters potentially the toughest stretch of the season. Engelstad’s group begins seven of its first eight games of the season on the road, but he is ecstatic to return as a coach in his home state.

“This was a dream opportunity for me, being from Maryland. This place has been so special for me.”

The Bethesda native looks to start his team’s season strong, making his Mount St. Mary’s debut as head coach in Raleigh, North Carolina, against NCAA tournament hopefuls, North Carolina State University on November 6.

The Mount St. Mary’s Basketball Team makes every practice count, fine tuning its offensive and defensive strategies, ready for a successful season ahead.

Photo by Blair Garrett