Taking the right shot at the right time is a mentality that is pervasive in the Central Maine Community College women’s basketball locker room.

That approach has given the Mustangs another shot at a national title, and it comes at a perfect time for the players, and for coach Andrew Morong.

But that doesn’t mean the top-seeded and once-beaten Mustangs are going into the tournaments wearing the title of “favorite.”

At least, not if you ask them.

“Even though we are No. 1, we are the underdogs in this tournament,” CMCC’s Brooke Reynolds, and Edward Little High School grad, said. “We’re playing against juniors and seniors who have played together for three or four years, and we’re only a two-year school. But we just have to have confidence and just keep on doing what we do every game. we can’t let them get into our heads.”

Reynolds has been a star for the Mustangs this season, averaging 14.6 points and 8 rebounds per game on her way to being names an All-American in the USCAA, the league in which CMCC plays.

“Having Brooke be an All-American, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise, it was definitely something she earned,” Morong said. “She put in a lot of hard work and showed a lot of dedication.”

But again, Morong cautioned, having an All-American on the roster at a tournament like this one isn’t all that uncommon.

“Pretty much every game you’re playing here, there’s a matchup of All-Americans,” Morong said. “All-Americans have to show up to play, but like in every game this year, it’s been a full team effort.”

It will, for sure, against eighth-seeded Penn State-Fayette, the host team at the Uniontown, Penn., venue that went 12-13 overall and 8-6 in conference play, but earned a bid into the tournament as the host.

“They have the leader of the leading rebounder in the PSUAC, their conference, and they have the leading scorer, the same girl, Taylor Smith. And she’s a first-team All-American. And they have the fourth leading scorer, too. Their record does not indicate how good they are. They’ve only lost one game by more than 10 points, and that was to an NCAA Division II team. We can’t take that for granted at all.”

One of the hallmarks of this CMCC squad is its solid shooting numbers.

“Our shooting has definitely improved since the beginning of the season,” Reynolds said.

No kidding.

The Mustangs are shooting 42.4 percent from the field this season, which is tops in the USCAA.

“Our shooting percentage is 100 percent dictated by our decision making,” Morong said. “It’s about the right shot at the right time, about a great shot versus a good shot, and I think our girls have bought into that. They’re super unselfish, which is great. We lead the USCAA in assists per game, too, and that has a lot to do with our shooting percentage.”

And while CMCC also leads the country in points per game, Morong believes its the team’s defense that makes that all happen.

“We’re going to go out and do what we do, we’re going to press for 40 minutes,” Morong said. “If that defense allows us some easy baskets, allows us to push the tempo, then that allows us to flex our muscles a little bit, and when the other team is grabbing their shorts a bit, we’re rolling in the next five, who are just as good as the previous five. The defense is really what gets us going.

“Being able to cause turnovers without fouling is really important,” he added. “Our defensive system is based on ball pressure, and making people feel uncomfortable. We really want to get under their skin a little bit, push them to the edge and kind of help them jump off. It all starts with our ball pressure on the wings, and then in the backcourt, and being able to play three different pressure defenses, that’s all pretty unique.”

Reynolds is a big piece of that defense.

“We run ’12,’ and I’m at the top of that, and then we run ’55,'” Reynolds said. “We added the ’55’ because we mainly played ’12’ throughout the season, and going into the tournament we wanted to do something different that no one has ever seen before. Our press is all over the place, and it helps tire the other teams out, which also works to our advantage.”

The Mustangs’ game Thursday is at 6 p.m. If they win, they will play the winner of the SMCC/PSU-Hazleton game on Friday at 7 p.m. A loss would kick CMCC to the consolation bracket and a game on Friday at 4 p.m.

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