A New Power
As Long As Broadway Builds On Last Season
Posted: December 7, 2012
BROADWAY — Heather Cantrell, if everything works out, will have an even larger role on the Broadway High School girls’ basketball team this season.
The Gobblers’ standout forward was a first-team All-Region III selection in 2011-12 thanks to her consistency under the hoop, specifically a go-to left hand that helped her average 14.7 points as a junior. She also grabbed 7.3 rebounds a game.
Now, coach Bobby Mongold wants her to be more versatile.
“She’s expanded her game to where she can hit the 18-footer,” said Mongold, in his third season coaching his alma mater after coming over from Harrisonburg in 2010. “She can shoot the 3 when she’s open, and we’re encouraging her to do that. She’s got to look for it, though. That’s where she’s struggling right now.”
Cantrell, who has drawn interest from Division III schools, notably Bridgewater, showed an ability to hit jump shots last season and was one of the Gobblers’ best free-throw shooters. But making 3-pointers more than a once-in-a-while part of her game has been a gradual process.
“They like me to shoot 3-pointers now,” Cantrell said Wednesday before practice. “But I haven’t had that killer instinct, yet. When I’m open, I’m so used to driving the ball.”
The Gobblers will need her to do that, too. It will be her primary role for Broadway, which, for the first time in decades — perhaps ever — is entering a season with high expectations after making a surprising run to the state tournament last year.
“We have so many people that expect us to do well, because of last year,” Cantrell said. “So we just feel more pressure. ... In past years, teams were like, ‘Oh Broadway, that’s a W.’”
After going four years without a district win, the Gobblers won the Region III, Division 4 championship last season before losing 42-37 to Salem in overtime in the D-4 quarterfinals at the Convocation Center to finish 19-9. It was Broadway’s best season in decades, and momentum appears to have carried over.
“The culture is changing,” Mongold said. “I think there’s a lot more positivity around the program, a lot more competitiveness for spots, to push each other, and for everybody to get better and to contribute. … It’s not like, ‘Hey, basketball is just something to do during the winter now.’ It’s like we’re a legitimate sport at Broadway, and our expectations and goals are the same: We want to be a contender in the district, in the region and in the state every year.”
The Gobblers — who have opened the season 1-1, losing to defending Division 1 (small schools) champion East Rockingham and beating R.E. Lee, a game in which BHS scored 83 points to tie the school record — return eight of 12 players from last season’s team.
The major losses were guard/forward Heather Bagwell and forward KK Richardson, who both started. One of BHS’s biggest additions is freshman point guard Kierstin Roadcap. Last season, Broadway’s roster was minus a natural point guard, and the 5-8 Roadcap should fix that.
Mongold described the team as “much more calm” when she’s on the floor.
“She has a great competitive drive and a will to get better,” he said. “And I think she makes people around her better, which is what you want your point guard to [do].”
At the moment, Roadcap’s more of a passer, but Mongold said her offense should develop with experience.
“She has great court vision, and she makes a lot of difficult plays look easy,” Mongold said. “She’s still working on scoring the ball, looking for her shots — when to drive it, when to shoot it.”
The off guards are juniors Jess Bergen and Vanessa Morgan. Both are good defenders, and Morgan made strides as a shooter last season. Defense, though, is what she prefers. Morgan said the mentality comes from playing defense in soccer.
“It’s like the same thing,” she said. “Same stances.”
Morgan has figured out how to defend on another level, too.
“If you get inside their heads, they usually break down,” she said.
The other forward is 5-6 junior Brianna Zook, who is averaging double-figure points through the Gobblers’ first two games, giving Broadway’s high-low offense two legitimate threats in the paint.
“I feel pretty confident under the basket,” Zook said.
But even though BHS returns most of its roster from last season, the majority of those returners are inexperienced. Five of the 12 are freshmen or sophomores.
“We do return a lot of experience, but we’re also mixing in some new players,” Mongold said. “Right now our biggest thing is getting experience playing together. Not very many combinations we’ve put on the floor have played a lot of minutes together. We’ve got girls that returned last year, but they haven’t played minutes, so they’re in new roles.”
At least Cantrell has company.