The final season of the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter girls’ basketball program saw the Raiders take impressive strides under head coach Eric Padget.
Padget took over the reins of a program he had previously guided from 2007-08 to 2012-13 — the longest coaching stretch in CMB history. He inherited a team that had struggled through a 2-19 campaign in 2015-16.
He also took over a team facing the difficulty of playing together for the last time as the Baxter and Collins-Maxwell schools will split up after summer.
“Personally, the biggest challenge this year was making sure we stayed together as a team, given the impending breakup of the CMB sports sharing agreement,” Padget said. “
But the Raiders didn’t let the issue distract them from growing as a team in their final run together.
This season the Raiders were more experienced and deeper. They also benefited greatly from the return of leading scorer and rebounder Brianda Bane, who sat out last season with an ACL injury.
With Bane healthy and several other players stepping up their game, CMB hit a double-digit win total, going 10-12 overall and finishing fifth in the Heart of Iowa Conference with an 8-8 record.
“I had a great group of kids this year,” Padget said. “(They) worked hard and knew how to have fun.”
CMB took a 6-4 record into Christmas break.
The Raiders toppled Woodward-Granger by a 41-36 score in their opener, downed Greene County by a 40-24 margin on Nov. 29 at Baxter, whipped Colfax-Mingo by a 57-42 score Dec. 3 in Colfax and edged Gilbert for a big 36-35 road Dec. 9. CMB scored back-to-back victories over Saydel (46-33) and South Hamilton (46-24) in its final two games before Christmas.
After the break, CMB faced the tougher portion of its schedule.
The Raiders had to play one game against both HOIC champion and state qualifier Nevada and state qualifier Prairie City-Monroe, as well as a top-10 1A team Colo-Nesco. They also had to face 3A regional finalist North Polk three times, including a regional quarterfinal match-up.
The end result saw CMB go 4-8 after the break. The Raiders roughed up Greene County by a 57-37 score on Jan. 13, completed a sweep of Gilbert with a 41-37 home win Jan. 24 and won at both Saydel and South Hamilton by respective 37-24 and 49-32 margins.
On Feb. 11 CMB’s season came to a close with a 55-28 loss to North Polk in regionals at Alleman.
“We had a great year,” Padget said. “I felt we let a couple of games get away that we shouldn’t have. But, all in all, it was a great season.”
The 10 victories ties the 1994-1995 team for the second-most in CMB 5-on-5 history behind the 13-win team of 2000-2001.
For the season CMB averaged 36.8 points, shooting 31.7 percent from the field, 23.9 percent from 3-point range and 56.4 percent from the line. The Raiders gave up 39.3 points per game and averaged 24.4 rebounds, 20.5 turnovers, 10.5 steals, 7.1 assists and 3.3 blocks.
Bane was the go-to player for CMB.
Coming back from her injury, Bane was outstanding, averaging 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks on the season as a first-team all-HOIC performer. She shot 36.4 percent from the field, 72.4 percent from the line and led CMB in 3-pointers with 34.
Senior forward Kathleen Baldwin was a second-team all-HOIC pick. She averaged 4.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals and hit seven 3-pointers.
Senior forward Mikayla Eslinger and senior guard Emily Coughenour were both all-HOIC honorable mention.
Eslinger put up 3.1 points per game, shooting 41.7 percent from the field and she also averaged a team-high 5.7 rebounds. Coughenour led CMB in assists with 1.7 per game and she also averaged 2.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals and made 13 3-pointers.
Junior guard Sailor Hinegardner, senior forward Sydney Ziesman, freshman Mikayla Houge and senior Megan Ritter were also key contributors for CMB.
Hinegardner averaged 4.4 points and 1.8 steals and made 13 3-pointers. Ziesman put up 4.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Houge came on in the second half of the season, averaging 2.6 points and 1.1 rebounds for the second. Ritter tallied 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.
Sophomore Josie Wierson and senior Heather Jessen also participated in more than 10 games for CMB. Sophomores Gracie Cheville and Sydney Schmidt both played in nine contests.
Wierson averaged 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds and Jessen 1.3 points per game. Cheville put up 1.7 points per contest and Schmidt pulled down an average of 1.6 boards.
The final graduating class of the CMB program — Baldwin, Ziesman, Eslinger, Coughenour, Ritter, Jessen and Veronica Condon — gets to hold its head high after the strong improvement shown in their final season.
“It was very tough to say goodbye to these seven seniors,” Padget said. “They are great kids and a lot of fun to be around.”
Next year marks a whole new beginning for Padget and the returning players with the breakup of the two high schools. Padget will remain the head coach at Baxter.
“We will be young,” Padget said. “Not only did I lose seven seniors, but I am also losing around 15 players from C-M. Couple that with playing in a new conference and it’s really anyone’s guess.”