Central Cass is the fan favorite of the 2019-20 Class B girls state tournament. The Squirrels ended Kindred’s 36-game winning streak and knocked off the defending state champions 68-61 in the Region 1 title game.
The No. 4-seeded Squirrels (19-4) are back in the state tournament for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Central Cass was pretty dominate in the mid-2000s and made it to four state tournaments in five years starting with the 2009-10 season.
Jay Bachman has been Central Cass’ head coach for five years and said this year’s squad looks up to that 2013-14 Squirrels team. “Many of my current players looked up to the girls who played in 2014 and have wanted to be like them,” Bachman said earlier this week. “My current girls are excited to extend the legacy and keep it going. And also start their own legacy.”
Central Cass is led by sophomore All-Region student-athletes Rylie Holzer and Kailey McKinnon but Bachman’s team usually has a different leading scorer every night. The Squirrels have knocked off two ranked teams in their current 13-game winning streak and all four of their losses have come against ranked teams. McKinnon averages 9.0 points per game but freshman Decontee Smith leads the team in scoring with 9.4 points per game. Smith comes off the bench for the Squirrels and is the spark plug on Bachman’s team. She has a bright future in Class B basketball and is a terrific athlete overall. Central Cass has nine players that average 4.0 points per game or more.
Bachman plays about 10 girls per game and his team averages 15 assists per game. “We play great team ball and we pass the ball well,” he added. “We can press all 32 minutes or slow it down and grind it out. We are a very diverse team and can beat teams in many ways.”
Interesting note: There are two sets of sisters on Central Cass’ team. Senior Emma Lee and sophomore Morgan Lee are sisters and sophomore Jaylin Cotton and freshmen Delaney Cotton and Klaire Cotton are all sisters.
State tournament prediction: This is by far the team with the most depth out of the Great Eight. Doesn’t matter what night it is any player could lead the team in scoring and that also shows how unselfish Central Cass is. The Squirrels are very active on defense as six players average one steal per game or more. And like Bachman said, his team can win by playing fast or slowing it down, which makes Central Cass tough to defend. I just hope the Squirrels didn’t use all their energy taking down juggernaut Kindred. Central Cass will play No. 5 LaMoure-Litchville/Marion in the opening round Thursday. My prediction for Central Cass is a sixth-place finish or higher with a very solid chance to win that fifth-place game Saturday afternoon.
Quote from coach: “We will have shoot well and handle other teams pressure. We are undersized so we will have to box out well. Offensively we will have to push the floor to wear the other teams down. The girls also have to enjoy the experience and play in the moment, don’t let the moment play
Emma Lee | Sr. | C | 6-foot-2
Belle Linnard | Sr. | F | 5-foot-7
Rylie Holzer | So. | G | 5-foot-6
Kailey McKinnon | So. | F | 5-foot-8
Morgan Lee | So. | G | 5-foot-8