For quite a few years, it’s been a real struggle for the Chambersburg girls basketball team to compete in the mighty Mid Penn Commonwealth Division, one of the top leagues for girls hoops in the state.
For the 2020-21 season, however — despite all the issues related to the pandemic — there is a feeling of optimism for the Trojans.
Chambersburg graduated a pair of starters from last year’s 4-18 team, but to take their place, it regained the services of two former starters who did not play last year. Just about everybody on the roster has varsity experience and the team’s balance between front court and back court players will allow for different strategies.
“I think depth is our biggest positive, with experience a close second,” said second-year Trojan coach Justin English. “The depth will allow us to be versatile on how we play offense and defense. And with more matchups, it gives us a lot of options we might might not have had before. We can adjust the starting lineup from game to game, depending on what our game plan is. And we can adjust better in-game, too.”
Chambersburg has four guards who can provide ballhandling and scoring, plus athleticism on defense.
Returning are Kiki Walker (jr., 5-8, 7.3 points per game), Madi Flythe (sr., 5-3, 6.5 ppg) and Erin Pattillo (sr., 5-5, 6.4 ppg). But added to the mix is senior Robyn Stepler (5-8), who will likely see the majority of time at point guard, allowing the others to play to their strengths.
It is the fourth varsity year for Pattillo and Flythe, and the third for Walker. Stepler scored 17 points in her first game as a varsity starter two years ago, but injured her knee and was out the rest of the season, then sat out last year.
“Having Stepler back lets Flythe move to the No. 2 spot and Pattillo can now play 2 or 3,” English said. “Plus, we could go with four guards and one post, or even five guards if that’s going to work in certain situations.”
Senior Marlee Wrights (5-8, F) returns after sitting out last year. As a sophomore, she averaged 5.2 points per game and is a quality rebounder.
Also playing inside will be a pair of 6-foot sophomores, Ahsia Thomas (1.3 ppg) and Kylee Miller.
English said, “Thomas is very gifted athletically and she has great anticipation, plus length, speed and size. She’s good on defense and will help in our press and in our zones. Miller is a natural shot blocker. Those two bode well for our future.”
Three other players saw significant time last year — Sydni Byers (sr., 5-7, G/F, 1.6 ppg), Rosalynn Diehl (jr., 5-6, G, 1.5 ppg) and Katie Parker (sr., 5-9, F). Also vying for playing time are juniors Allie List (5-6, G), and Joelle Rheam (5-8, G/F), a transfer from Shalom Christian.
English said, “I’m optimistic with what we can do, even playing against some of the top teams in the region and state. We open with Gettysburg, Central Dauphin and Cumberland Valley (all 3 of which qualified for states last year), all on the road. I really think if we could have started off with our non-conference schedule first, it would have helped.
“We’ve been either practicing against ourselves or being on break for so long, now we just hope for a fun two months. It’ll be jam-packed with games, but we just hope we have fun and get through it. We really do appreciate our athletic trainers and athletic directors for keeping us up to speed with everything.”
NOTES: The season opener is this Friday at Gettysburg; the home opener is Jan. 22 against CD East … The Trojans won only 1 of their final 13 games last year … Chambersburg was held under 30 points in seven games … Doug Stuart is the varsity assistant, and former Chambersburg player Lindsay Embly has joined the staff.