Mooney’s play continues to be key for Panthers

Baldwin junior has success in first varsity season

BALDWIN  — Nicole Mooney continues to have a strong first-year varsity season for the girls basketball program.

Recently in a loss to Bear Lake, the Panthers struggled but Mooney had a solid offensive performance with nine points. The Baldwin junior was hitting some shots when her team badly needed some offense.

“You just need to have confidence in your shot and don’t be scared to shoot,” Mooney said. “Then you’ll make more baskets. We have to keep on working together at finding people. If we find people that are open, we’ll make a lot more shots.”

Panther’s junior guard Nicole Mooney takes the ball up-court against Bear Lake. Despite the play of Mooney, Baldwin sits with a 2-6 record on the year. (Pioneer photo/ John Raffel)

Panther’s junior guard Nicole Mooney takes the ball up-court against Bear Lake. Despite the play of Mooney, Baldwin sits with a 2-6 record on the year. (Pioneer photo/ John Raffel)

Later this season, the Panthers play at Bear Lake and Mooney is confident of seeing a better performance.

“In practice, we have to run more to get our stamina up, and keep up with them basically and get past them,” Mooney said. “Once we’re able to run more without getting tired, we’ll be (OK).”

“We have to practice the press breaker more in practice,” Mooney said. “We need to work more on passing rather than dribbling through it.”

The team hasn’t hit the halfway point in games yet, but will have a heavy schedule in upcoming weeks. More games will help this team, Mooney predicted.

“We’ve improved a lot from the beginning,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kiera Barker has gotten off to a strong start as a freshman for Baldwin.

Being a freshman on varsity “is exciting and challenging at the same time,” Barker said. “I love playing at the varsity level. It’s very fun and uplifting.”

Getting the first two wins over Grand Traverse and Northport were huge lifts for her team, Barker acknowledged.

The key was “defense and making shots,” Barker said, adding that taking care of the ball was also a factor.

The Panthers have had some games canceled because of the weather. While the boys entered last week with six games under their belts, the girls only had three prior to their win over Grand Traverse.

Getting games in is critical, Barker admitted.

“I’m either a point or shooting guard,” she said, adding that a shooting guard was perhaps her best spot. “I’ve been decent.” She added that shooting is her strength, especially from mid-range. She wants to improve on ball handling. She’s confident the Panthers can be a good ball handling team this season. “We have Angela (Johnson), Makayla (George) and Miranda (Roberts) handling the ball very well up front,” Barker said.

The recent wins should provide the team plenty of confidence for the future, Barker indicated.

”We hadn’t got a win so the first win of the season (will be huge),” she said, adding that “defense, shots and steals” are the keys in getting future wins.

Panthers, 2-6, are home Thursday against Walkerville.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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