Other than having eight players who saw playing time with the varsity last year, just about everything about the Chambersburg girls basketball program for the 2019-20 season is brand new.
“What makes it difficult for them is that everything is new — new drills, new terminology, new offense, new defense — and we don’t have a lot of time,” said Justin English, who is the Trojans’ new coach. “We’re trying to not put too much on them.”
Whatever else happens, do not expect the norm.
Don’t be surprised if Chambersburg starts five guards in a game, or if the Trojans do a lot of pressing on defense, or if they jack up a ton of 3-pointers.
English said, “We don’t mind being a little unorthodox on offense or defense. We want teams to have to prepare for us differently.”
The Trojans open the season in the Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament on Friday at 4 p.m. at James Buchanan against Greencastle-Antrim.
The new coach is trying to match his personnel to their strengths.
Among the returning players at guard are senior Bre’ya Clopper (4.5 points per game), juniors Erin Pattillo (4.6) and Madison Flythe (6.2), sophomore Kiki Walker (3.7), and senior guard/forwards Sydney Schmus (5.9) and Anna Stonesifer (1.7).
The forwards are juniors Katie Parker (1.6) and Sydni Byers (1.7). Parker (5-foot-9) and Walker (5-8) are the tallest players in the group of veterans.
“We have so many guards and they can all handle the ball,” English said. “We have to be different and be a mismatch, so we should be shooting when we get the first good look. We’ll probably play offense outside in, trying to get dribble penetration, but we want to put up a lot of shots.”
The Trojans, who finished 2-20 a year ago (1-15 Mid Penn Commonwealth), will normally be at a disadvantage in height, so winning the rebounding battle will be hard to do, but English hopes to make up for that in other ways, including using the team’s speed and quickness on defense.
“I love the defensive intensity that Bre’ya has, and she plays with a lot of passion,” English said. “Erin is very intense and she anticipates really well on defense. Parker and Walker have huge upsides — Parker has shown flashes of being able to play with her back to the basket, and Walker is long and lanky and can be a disrupter on defense.
“Maddie is our best 3-point shooter and needs to live beyond the arc, and Sydney (Schmus) is a grinder and a good outside shooter. Sydni (Byers), when she’s confident, can be a deadly shooter from 10-12 feet. Anna will give us 100% all the time and help either inside or outside.”
At the very minimum, Chambersburg wants to be more competitive this season. Last year, in only five of the 20 defeats were the Trojans within 12 points of their opponent.
“I feel extremely positive with how it’s gone so far,” English said. “I love the attitude, the energy and the optimism, and they’ve worked hard. We’re trying to put our players in the best situation for them to have success and be productive. If we do, I think their confidence can snowball from game-to-game.
“We have some huge mountains to play against this year, but we have a good team on and off the court and they want to prove they’re better than last year’s record. It will be an interesting journey.”
NOTES: English has had previous coaching experience at Clarion and IUP … Miranda Payne and Doug Stuart are the varsity assistants, and Kenny Stepler and Matt Smith are the JV coaches … Four players who expect to see action on JV and varsity are sophomores Rosalyn Diehl (5-6) and Allison List (5-9) and freshmen Kylie Miller (6-0) and Ahsia Thomas (6-0) … Non-league foes include Cedar Cliff, Hempfield, James Buchanan and Shippensburg.