In all of the drama surrounding the Crisfield basketball program this year, there has been one positive fact not getting enough attention.
The girls team continues to grow, get better and win more games.
An eight win season might be sub-par for most teams on Delmarva, but that’s three more than last season and five more than 2012-13. Before that, Crisfield had gone winless for eight years, head coach Greg Bozman said.
But eight isn’t the magic number for the Crabbers, nor is a .500 winning percentage, which was one of Bozman’s goals that they just fell short of with the 8-14 record.
Instead, it’s 13 — that’s how many girls were on the team this year.
“Well, the amazing thing, and I said this the other day in practice, ‘This is the first year of me ever coaching girls where every player that came out, stayed with the team,’ ” Bozman said. “That goes back to even the first time I coached. We had 13 girls from the start to the finish this year.”
To get participation higher, Bozman created a recruiting pipeline — the Crisfield high cafeteria.
“I’m so crazy over the game, I guess is what you could say, so I’m in the cafeteria constantly trying to recruit girls,” he said. “I was still recruiting when we had 13, trying to get a couple more to come out.
“So it’s just basically showing them that you love it, and the passion kinda becomes contagious after that.”
Senior Blair Landon didn’t play basketball until this year. Instead, she took winters off and played field hockey and softball in the fall and spring.
But she said it was a certain feeling that she wanted to prove herself as a female athlete, help out the program, and Boz made her want to play.
“Just the other girls that were already on (the team) like Stephanie (Pinchback) and Arielle (Johnston) and Boz, too,” Landon said. “You can tell about Boz that his heart is really in it, and it makes you want to play better.”
The one that makes the Crabbers go
One player Boz didn’t need to recruit was the field hockey star Johnston.
The point guard is the heart of the team, handling the ball in every important situation while leading the team in scoring.
She’s helped other Crabbers flourish, too. When she missed the Christmas tournament games, transfer Crystal Merritt stepped up with 55 points in the two contests.
It was one of the highlights of the season for Bozman because it really showed the growth of all players.
But it hasn’t just been Merritt who has stepped up.
Forwards Kelli Bradshaw and Hannah Mason have dealt with their fair share of injuries this season, leading to Crisfield relying on Pinchback more.
The junior has answered, averaging more than 10 rebounds a game and developing a post game.
She said playing with Johnston makes every player better. She also said the point guard is one of the best in the Bayside.
“I want her to have the ball in her hands,” Pinchback said. “If she scores all the points, I’m happy, because at least Crisfield won.”
A lot of work left to do
Bozman won’t be happy until the Crabbers are competing with the top teams in the Bayside.
He said it’s more of a mental issue when it comes to playing those teams.
“We still struggle against Mardela, Decatur and Pocomoke, but I think that’s more of a mental block,” Bozman said. “It’s not so much physical. We can play with those teams, we just gotta get to the point where we’re confident enough to go out there and play the same way we play against a Snow Hill, Washington or a Wi-Hi.”
To get to that final level, the Crabbers need to play in the summer, and AAU teams are the only way to go.
Bozman also said he’s been working in the community to get more of a youth program built up so he doesn’t have to teach basic fundamentals to freshman who have never played before.
Mason, a departing senior, said just the fact that the Crabbers are winning more games has sparked an interest at the school.
It’s a one of a kind feeling that everyone should try, she said.
“It’s kinda like a rush when you play,” Mason said. “It just grows (on you). You love it.”
No matter what the outcome of the next few years is, as long as Bozman is sharing his passion and preaching to try basketball, the Crabbers’ program will continue to grow.
But Pinchback doesn’t think that is too far away.
“It’s really growing because in past years, they used to lose all the games,” she said. “Each year, we’re getting better and better and better, and soon we’re going to be on the top.”
On Twitter/ Instagram: @DTimes_Marshall