Cayuga's Women's Basketball Team is looking ahead to a tough second half of the season, but knows it has a solid record to build on entering conference play.
Cayuga is coming off a strong opening half to the 2018-2019 season. The Spartans boast a 5-3 record, including a 4-2 mark in regional contests, and feature four players averaging at least 10 points per game.
The Spartans will be tested to start the second half of their season, with their first three games coming against teams with records of .500 or better, including an away contest at 10-5 Genesee Community College on Jan. 8. Cayuga will kick off Mid-State Athletic Conference play with an away game on Jan. 10 against Corning Community College.
Coming into the season, Coach Jim Alberici knew he had an athletic roster and strong leadership from veterans of Cayuga's 2017-2018 team, and was cautiously optimistic about the team's potential for the season.
"You never know how things will work out as the season starts. I was excited about our team and our potential, but you're never sure how things will play out until the games get going," he said. "In that first semester, we had some long layoffs between games, but we handled it well and stayed in a pretty good rhythm."
The Spartans opened the season with a home win over Herkimer, and closed November with a 3-2 mark, including wins over SUNY Adirondack and Schenectady County Community College. They followed that up with a win over Clinton Community College and a second win against Herkimer to close the first half of the season.
Though the Spartans built a strong resume over the first eight games, there is still room for improvement, said Alberici.
"At times we've played great. Those two wins over Herkimer, especially, were big because in each game we overcame an early 10-point deficit. That's a great sign of our determination and talent," said Alberici. "On the other hand, we've had a few games get away from us against some good teams. I'm definitely proud of how we've competed so far, but I know there are some things we can focus on to play even better."
Alberici pointed to the scoring balance across the roster as one of the leading factors in the team's success. Hanna Keyser and Erica Helzer are leading the Spartans in scoring, averaging 12.4 and 12.3 points per game, respectively. Loren Clifford is averaging 11.9 and Payton Noeller is averaging 10 points per game.
"That balance makes us harder to defend, and means we're not relying on a single person to score every game," he said. "That's a good sign that we're playing as a team."
Looking ahead, the Spartans have one non-conference game before MSAC contests begin. Alberici said the remainder of the season holds plenty of challenges for the Spartans.
"There are no easy games in our conference. All the teams are familiar with each other, their offensive and defensive schemes, and that makes the games harder," he said. "But I'm excited we're a few games over .500, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we do in the second half of the season."