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CVCA girls basketball players gaining experience, confidence

1/17/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) girls basketball head coach Ryan Tyna said this year’s team is young, but the squad seems like it is ready to turn close losses into wins.

Through Jan. 15, the team was 4-10, but the coach noted that record would be much better if not for some narrow defeats.

“We’ve lost some close games early this season,” he said. “I mean, we’ve lost like four games by two points, one by three points and one by four points, so we’ve been competitive. But we’ve had those periods in games where we’ve allowed our opponents to make big runs that we never recover from. We want to limit those times in games and continue to play intense basketball.”

Tyna said the team has “definitely” shown improvement as the season has progressed.

“There has been tremendous improvement. Just look at our win [Jan. 12] over Indian Valley,” he said. “They beat us by two the first time we played them [Dec. 12]. At 10-3, they’re having the best start in school history, they beat Manchester by six, and they come to our place and we beat them by 13 points. So there’s been a lot of improvement. Every single one of our kids has improved greatly, and these aren’t necessarily all improvements that show up in the stats, but you see it if you watch them every day.”

Last year, the team finished with a 16-7 overall record and made it to the district semifinals. According to Tyna, CVCA entered this season having lost three key players from that team.

“This year, we are a bit younger,” he said. “We have three freshmen who are getting significant playing time in Rachel Radcliff (center), Lindsey Hofer (guard) and Sienna Drillien (forward).”

Despite the number of younger players on the team, Tyna said, CVCA is benefiting from the fact many of them were on the squad last season.

“This is the second year for many of our kids in our system, so knowledge of the system and their comfort level running our offense and defense has been a strength for us,” he stated. “We have two seniors who start for us, Megan Foley and LeAunna Mallard, and two seniors who come off the bench, Kayla Kutchin and Natalie Silk. Our only junior is guard Ashley Tyna. Sophomore Angelica Owen starts at the point for us, and then the three freshmen round out our rotation.”

Tyna said Foley and Mallard are the team captains this season.

“Megan Foley is a senior forward for us. She is averaging 10 rebounds per game and nearly three blocked shots per game,” he said. “LeAunna Mallard starts at guard for us and is a good outside threat.”

The team also is getting key contributions from Silk and Kutchin, the coach said.

“Natalie Silk just got cleared to play a couple weeks ago after getting a stress fracture in her leg during soccer season. She adds athleticism and outside shooting for us,” he said. “Kayla Kutchin is a converted soccer player who is very intelligent and has picked up the game very rapidly. She has done a pretty good job for us. She has given us some stability in the post while Rachel has gotten used to the varsity game.”

So far this season, Ashley Tyna has been the team’s leading scorer.

“She’s currently listed as the Northeast Ohio leading scorer … with 265 points,” the coach said. “She’s averaging 22 points per game, five steals and five rebounds. She’s done well for us in spite of being the focus of opposing teams’ defenses, being face guarded or often facing a box and one.”

Coach Tyna said the No. 1 goal for his team is to continue to grow and get better as the season unfolds.

“The girls have jelled very well as our younger girls have cut their teeth on the speed of the varsity game,” he said. “I want to see continued improvement — to see us get better every single day.”

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