By MIKE MILLER
It's been only a month, but the Chambersburg boys basketball team appears to be in a better place than it was when it last met Harrisburg.
That game, the fourth of the season, was an illustration of how far apart the two teams were at the start of the year. The gaps in talent and execution were apparent.
The Cougars remain tied at the top of the Mid Penn Commonwealth Division with Central Dauphin, but the Trojans will look to avoid a season sweep when they meet tonight at 7:30 at CASHS Field House.
"In reviewing that first game, our effort was outstanding," Chambersburg coach Shawn Shreffler said. "I really enjoyed watching that game just because of how hard we played. But our execution wasn't where we needed it to be to play a team of that caliber. As the season has gone on, I believe our execution has gotten better and we've had some really good practices this week so I expect the guys to be ready to compete."
If the Trojans' recent three-game stretch is any indication, the team may be turning the corner.
Since losing a winnable home game vs. Bishop McDevitt on Jan. 9, Chambersburg has gone 2-1, including a tough 55-50 loss at Central Dauphin last week.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the turnaround has been secondary scoring. The Trojans have learned to count on double-digit efforts from Kellen Williams every night. But better play from A.J. Maun and Andrew Plank has helped.
Plank turned in one of his finest efforts of the season Monday at Waynesboro and barely missed a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Also, Aaron Sollenberger registered eight points against the Indians.
"I don't think they really have that kind of team where you have to stop one guy," Harrisburg coach Kirk Smallwood said. "On any given night, any one of them can step up. It'll basically be their system against our system."
Shreffler added, "Our balance offensively has been really good. The more guys we have showing up in our scoring column, the harder we are to match up against. I feel from the first game we played with them, there were some things that we didn't really have in our offense as a way to deal with some of their pressure. We've been working on putting different things in to place to enable ourselves to attack the pressure better."
Chambersburg swept the season series last year, but has gone 14-39 against the Cougars since the 1991-92 season.
When the Cougars used a punishing press to earn a 72-48 victory on Dec. 16, they forced the Trojans into 29 turnovers -- a season high.
Harrisburg also received big performances from Haiishen McIntyre (21 points) and Chris Britton (13). McIntyre, a senior Division I prospect, gives most every team in the Mid Penn Conference fits.
"McIntyre's having a phenomenal season for us offensively," Smallwood said. "He's our leader. As a team, we just have to do what we do and try to stay focused, stay consistent and stay within our strengths."
He can beat teams inside and out, averaging 15.5 points per game in his last two games against Chambersburg.
"He's very, very good," Shreffler said. "He can work through game plans really well. What you can't do is put all your emphasis on shutting him down because they have other guys who can ably step in and take advantage of the lack of attention. We're going to have to play really solid defense. If we can limit some of their guys, we'll give ourselves the best chance to win."
NOTE: The Trojans are dedicating today's game to Christian Keyes and the Christian Keyes Foundation. Fans are asked to wear purple or lime green in honor of Christian.
The team will accept donations at the door and the team and the booster club will be donating 50-50, halftime and concession money to the foundation.
"A lot of the guys were very close with him and they wanted to do something for his foundation, as well as honor him as a person," Shreffler said. "A lot of guys expressed an interest in doing that for him and hopefully fans can support not only our team but also Christian and the foundation."
Mike Miller can be reached at 262-4788 and firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BowieMike. Trojans-Cougars at a glance
Game data: Harrisburg Cougars at Chambersburg Trojans ... Tonight, 7:30, at CASHS Field House ... Mid Penn Commonwealth Division game.
Teams: Harrisburg (10-3, 7-1 MPC) defeated Williamsport 60-46 on Wednesday ... Chambersburg (7-7, 3-5 MPC) beat Waynesboro 51-34 on Monday.
Last meeting: Harrisburg won 72-48 on Dec. 16.
Media: Listen online at www.midpennbroadcasting.com.
P.O. pick: Cougars by 4.