It took a while for the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter girls’ basketball team to find its footing under new head coach Jamie Zabel, but the Raiders managed to finish the season playing much better basketball.
CMB went 7-17 overall and 4-14 in the Heart of Iowa Conference in 2013-14. The Raiders finished 9-15 a year ago.
With Zabel taking over the program from Eric Padget, the Raiders had to go through an adjustment period at the beginning of the season. As a result, they started 0-8.
"We only had two returning starters and a few players with limited varsity minutes," Zabel said. "This, combined with poor shooting at times, challenged us."
But as the CMB players got comfortable with the new coaching system and the younger players began better understanding the game, more positive results started occurring for the Raiders.
CMB knocked off a ranked 1A team in Grandview Park Baptist for its first win on Dec. 21, 54-49. When the Raiders came back from Christmas break they stretched their winning streak to four games.
A 60-50 victory at Baxter over Ankeny Christian Academy on Jan. 2 gave CMB its second victory over a rated 1A team in succession. The Raiders followed that up by winning at South Hamilton, 44-37, for their first HOIC victory, and they added a 55-29 home win over Colfax-Mingo on Jan. 7.
"We grew in terms of taking care of the basketball, rebounding and handling pressure," Zabel said. "We also made a considerable growth in terms of our basketball IQ, especially with our younger players."
On Jan. 10 CMB lost to Roland-Story to start another rough stretch. The Raiders dropped seven in a row before snapping out of their funk with a 41-28 home win over South Hamilton on Feb. 4.
CMB added a 58-20 victory at Colfax-Mingo on Feb. 7, then closed out the regular season three days later with a loss to Prairie City-Monroe.
The Raiders opened Class 2A regional play Feb. 15 versus Ogden at home. CMB played one of its best games at the right time, whipping the Bulldogs by a 48-25 score.
In the regional quarterfinals CMB went up against West Marshall. The Raiders nearly pulled off the upset before succumbing in a 47-45 heartbreaker.
"For my first season there were ups and downs, which was to be expected," Zabel said. "However, when you look at the strength of our schedule - to win seven games is good. We made strides as the season went on. Overall, we should feel good about what we were able to accomplish."
CMB averaged 39.7 points per game, shooting 35 percent from the floor, 23 percent from 3-point range and 56 percent from the line. The Raiders totaled 60 3-pointers as a team and they averaged 14.5 turnovers and 12.4 assists per game.
On defense CMB allowed an average of 48.2 points per game.
Senior center Abbie Haupert and junior point guard Lexi Breon were the anchors for CMB this season. Haupert was a first-team all-HOIC pick and Breon made the second team.
Haupert averaged 16.4 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. She shot 50 percent from the field and 62 percent from the line and also tallied 2.7 blocks and 2.6 steals per game.
"Abbie will be difficult to replace," Zabel said. "She holds school (5-on-5) records in points, rebounds and blocks. Abbie brought leadership to our team and a presence on and off the floor."
Haupert finished her career with 1,196 points, 927 rebounds and 196 blocks.
Breon averaged 9.7 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds. She led the team with 31 3-pointers and shot 34 percent from the field and 79 percent from the line.
Sophomore forward Bridget Hurley and junior guard Mackenzie Schmitz were all-HOIC honorable mention for CMB.
Hurley averaged 5.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals. She also hit 20 3-pointers on the season.
Schmitz put up 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Freshmen Mikayla Eslinger, Sydney Ziesman and Megan Ritter were also regular contributors.
Eslinger averaged 3.1 points and 5.4 rebounds and Ziesman put up an average of one point per game. Ritter tallied an average of 0.9 points and 1.5 rebounds.
Senior Katie Ziesman played most of the second half of the year and junior Madilyn Brindle saw action in 12 games. Katie averaged 1.1 rebounds and Brindle chipped in 0.3 points per contest.
CMB played the season without the services of sophomore Carter Larson – who was out with an injury.
Zabel credited Katie Ziesman and Virginia Sposeto with providing quality senior leadership alongside Haupert.
"Katie had a great attitude and work ethic," Zabel said. "Virginia has been out four years, and although she played limited minutes at the varsity level, she brought great leadership and basketball IQ to the JV team."
Next season CMB will have big shoes to fill with the loss of Haupert. But with three other all-conference players returning, Zabel is still optimistic about what the 2014-15 season will bring for his program.
"I am very excited about my second season here," Zabel said. "We are much more experienced as a whole going into next season and I am looking forward to what some of the current JV girls bring to the table next year."