This year s Cedar Crest girls  basketball team includes, front row from left, Nichole Wagner, Rachel Miller, Emmi Wagner, Maria Battle and Kayla Horn. Back
This year s Cedar Crest girls basketball team includes, front row from left, Nichole Wagner, Rachel Miller, Emmi Wagner, Maria Battle and Kayla Horn. Back row are Gabbi Donmoyer, Addy Toms, Logan Reedy, Caitlynn Albright, Chante Beard and Alex Rich. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL)
Familiarity may breed contempt in some walks of life, but in athletic circles it often produces increasingly positive vibes and an ever-growing comfort level.

At least that's the way head coach Jim Donmoyer and the Cedar Crest girls' basketball team hope things will work out this winter.

After enduring a rocky 5-17 campaign in Donmoyer's rookie year as head coach in 2011-12, the Falcons and their leader are feeling a lot better about themselves, both collectively and as individuals, as they begin their second season together.

That doesn't mean Cedar Crest is going to suddenly return to the league power status it enjoyed earlier in the 2000s, but there figures to be a great many more positive steps taken than missteps this time around.

"Last year, to be honest with you, I didn't think was going to be that difficult," Donmoyer said, looking back briefly before looking ahead. "The first year was tough. I didn't know as much as I thought I did. I didn't realize how much there was to it until it was over and I looked back at it. I learned a lot, and that can only help this year."

In turn, the Falcons that return this year learned a lot from those struggles as well and should be the better for it.

Though there is a glaring lack of size which could hurt the team in some situations, there's also a good deal of young talent, youthful exuberance and positive team chemistry that Donmoyer believes will serve Cedar Crest well.

There's also a four-member senior class led by 5-foot-7 guard Addy Toms (6.


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3 ppg last season) and Donmoyer's daughter, 5-6 forward Gabbi Donmoyer, that will be charged with helping along the youthful varsity group that features five sophomores and one freshman.

"These kids work hard, they're competitive and the biggest thing is the chemistry," Donmoyer said. "They seem to get along. They pull for each other. So far it's been a lot better being around this.

Working on her post moves is Cedar Crest s Gabbi Donmoyer, who is defended by Alex Rich during a recent practice in South Lebanon.
Working on her post moves is Cedar Crest s Gabbi Donmoyer, who is defended by Alex Rich during a recent practice in South Lebanon. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL)
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Five-foot-1 guard Maria Battle and 5-7 forward Chante Beard round out the senior class, while 5-3 sharpshooter Rachel Miller, 5-7 forward Alex Rich and twin sisters and guards Emily and Nichole Wagner help make up a promising group of 10th-graders who represent the future of the program.

In addition, 5-5 junior Kayla Horn, 6-0 sophomore post player Logan Reedy and 5-9 freshman Caitlynn Albright are also competing for playing time.

"Aside from Taylor Ford (last year's leading scorer who has graduated), I think we have more talent than we did last year," Donmoyer said. "And we have young talent. I'm looking forward to these kids getting a lot better this year. I know we're gonna be competitive.

"A lot of these kids have been playing with each other for a long time, they played in the youth leagues all the way up through, and they understand the game of basketball."

And with the inexperienced Reedy and Albright the only players taller than 5-7, the Falcons will need every bit of that basketball intelligence to stay competitive. Against a very tough non-league schedule that includes the likes of Cumberland Valley and Lower Dauphin, and against Lancaster-Lebanon Section One brethren like perennial powers Manheim Township and Hempfield.

But this flock of Falcons is also blessed with solid ballhandling and shooting skills, which along with the aforementioned basketball IQ could offset the lack of height.

"Skill-wise, absolutely we can handle the ball," Donmoyer said. "We don't have a lot of size, but we have people that can handle the ball and we've got people that can shoot.

"Our weakness would be inexperience for the most part and size inside. But in the meantime, we'll do what we need to do to be competitive and play to our strengths."

And as noted, some of last year's weaknesses - familiarity, cohesiveness and chemistry - appear to have turned into strengths this season.

"It's been more fun this year from a lot of standpoints," Donmoyer said. "The second year, we know what we need to do."


The Falcons  Addy Toms heads to the basket during an intrasquad game as teammate Caitlynn Albright defends.
The Falcons Addy Toms heads to the basket during an intrasquad game as teammate Caitlynn Albright defends. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL)