WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – Having lost a lot of talent to graduation last season, coach Ron Powell has been looking for someone to take over the senior leadership role for the Cherokee High School girls’ basketball team.
For one night at least, that role fell to Katie Cumminskey, whose 14 points Tuesday helped the Chiefs to a 48-33 win over Washington Township Tuesday in an Olympic Conference American Division game.
“I just told the kids that in the three years we’ve been coaches here that may have been the best game I’ve seen Katie play,” Powell said. “All-around, shooting, defense – she was pretty good today.”
With the graduation of Isabella Therien – last season’s consensus player of the year – the Chiefs have been trying to develop new ways to win.
They’ve been pretty good at it so far, having gotten off to a 5-1 start, but it takes the efforts of players like Cumminskey to make it happen.
She came out on fire Tuesday, scoring 11 points in the first quarter when the Chiefs took the lead for good, and then others picked up the slack.
Junior Ava Therien contributed 13 points, while her freshman sister Alexa added nine.
“Without Izzy we’ve been trying to find `that’ player,” said Cumminskey. “Since we can’t find that one, all five of us just step up now.”
For his part, Powell says he will take contributions from where ever he can get them. Not having that one go-to player, he’s looking for balance and for people who are not afraid to take charge.
“We need people who can make shots,” he said. “We weren’t shooting the ball particularly well in the first few games, but we’ve made an emphasis in practice to shoot hundreds of shots.”
He thinks a player like Cumminskey will continue to gain confidence in her shot with added repetition in practice.
“Katie was one who was reluctant to shoot in some games,” Powell said. “But since we’ve worked so hard in practice, she’s going to keep doing it.”
Cumminskey believes she plays her best when she’s able to relax and just play within the rhythm of the game. That’s how she came out in the first quarter.
“I think I do my best when I don’t think about it,” she said. “Obviously we try to get everyone involved. This year, everyone has to step up and usually it’s someone different every game. Today happened to be my day.”
Her teammates have no problem with Cumminskey taking key shots.
“She’s a smart player; she’s not selfish, and when her 3-pointers are falling, you can’t stop her,” said Ava Therien. “Today was her best game. She kept us in the game the whole game.”
With Cumminskey’s scoring surge in the first quarter, the Chiefs got off to a 15-7 lead and then were pretty much not threatened the rest of the way.
Ava Therien picked up the scoring slack with seven points in the second quarter as Washington Township maintained a 27-15 halftime lead.
“I thought we were pretty good today,” said Powell. “That was one of our most consistent outings. We only had four turnovers in the first half. As long we can make a quality shot, our defense is pretty good, usually.”
Township did make a small run in the fourth quarter, cutting into a 41-23 deficit with six straight points, but the outcome was never in doubt.
With Kennedy Wilburn leading the way with four points, Cherokee answered with six in a row, and than was able to run out the clock.
Desptie the loss, Township got a quality effort from center Emily Johns, who scored 13 points.
Cherokee 15 12 9 12 -48
Washington Twp. 7 15 6 12- 33
Cherokee: Lindsay Craig 3, Katie Cumminskey 14, Ava Therien 13, Kennedy Wilburn 6, Alexa Therien 9, Kesley Wallace 1, Sara Wallace 2.
Wash. Twp.: Taylor Attananasi 2, Madison Dulude 9, Emily Johns 13, Julie Marino 2, Gabrielle Turu 7.