Cut off: Greencastle-Antrim’s Zach Faulkner, left, finds his path to the basket contested by Grant Strawoet of James Buchanan during last
Cut off: Greencastle-Antrim's Zach Faulkner, left, finds his path to the basket contested by Grant Strawoet of James Buchanan during last year's Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament. Both players are back for this year's event, which is Friday and Saturday at Waynesboro. (Public Opinion file/Ryan Blackwell)
By LIZI ARBOGAST

@liziarbogast

Even though the temperatures have been pushing 70 degrees and the sun has been shining most of the week, the winter sports season is upon us.

And that means it's basketball season.

Four area Mid Penn teams' seasons officially begin today at 4 p.m. in the third annual Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament, which features Chambersburg, Waynesboro, Greencastle-Antrim and James Buchanan.

All eight games will be held today and Saturday at Waynesboro Area Senior High School.

Of course, all the area teams want to start off on the right foot, but perhaps no one does more than the Indians, who hope to give the home crowd something to cheer about.

"Obviously, you get two additional home games, so from a playing standpoint, that's always a benefit, playing in front of our home crowd," Waynesboro boys coach Tom Hoffman said. "Logistically, it's been a little busy, but we want to put our best foot forward as a school and as a community. I'm looking forward to it, though. It should be a positive experience."

Friday will begin with the Chambersburg girls taking on James Buchanan at 4 p.m., followed by the Trojan boys against JB at 5:30. At 7 p.m., Greencastle-Antrim's girls squad will face Waynesboro, followed by G-A's boys vs. the Indians.

The Trojan girls have won both of the previous county tip-off tournaments, and although coach Jenny Schmutzler is new to the job, she is ready to defend the title.

"I'm completely confident in my team, and I feel like this is just going to give them confidence in themselves because I don't know if that's there yet," Schmutzler said. "If we play our game and limit our turnovers and mistakes, I know we can pull out the championship again. But we just gotta play our A game."

Schmutzler said she thinks the Trojans' biggest competition will be Greencastle. Although the Blue Devils return just one starter in Chloe Hoover, Schmutzler said she thought they had a "lot of hustle and a lot of heart" when she scouted them.

Greencastle girls coach Mike Rhine is realistic about his expectations for the first game. On the nine-man roster, the Blue Devils have zero seniors and four underclassmen.

"Everybody wants to play well and wants to win right out of the gate, but we talk about geting better every game and improving every facet of what we're trying to do," Rhine said. "Of course you want to play well and get off to a good start, but it's not that easy. Everyone's got the same goal, which makes it that much harder."

The Greencastle boys also have a lot to play for - they are also trying to defend their title.

"I don't feel pressure, but I'm definitely anxious," Blue Devil coach Gary Martin said. "I want to get that first game in and win that one, so we can get to the championship and give ourselves a chance to win it."

Greencastle's first opponent will be Waynesboro, and Hoffman said it would be great to get a big win against the divisional rival right off the bat.

"I think it's important so you don't have that question of which game is going to be our first victory," Hoffman said. "Part of our issue is we've struggled mightily, and some of that is just that you have to have the right mindset. For us, it would be a huge benefit to come out with a victory. It would be a huge confidence boost for our guys and our program."

Although the Blue Devils don't plan to overlook any opponent, Martin said he thinks Chambersburg will be the toughest team at the tournament. But Martin did say he expects the Indians to give Greencastle a run for its money.

"I think Waynesboro will be ready to play us," Martin said. "I know they haven't beaten us since I've been there, but I imagine being there at their home, they'll want to win at their place."

Regardless of the outcomes of today's game, each team will get a chance to play a second game on Saturday. The consolation games will begin at 4 p.m. followed by the championships slated to tip at 7 p.m.

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Lizi Arbogast can be reached at 262-4788 or larbogast@publicopinionnews.com.

Tip-Off information

Following is the schedule and fees for the Franklin County Tip-Off Basketball Tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Waynesboro. Later starting times are subject to change if prior games run longer than expected.

Friday

Girls: Chambersburg vs. James Buchanan, 4; Waynesboro vs. Greencastle-Antrim, 7

Boys: James Buchanan vs. Chambersburg, 5:30; Greencastle-Antrim vs. Waynesboro, 8:30

Saturday

Girls: Consolation, 4; Championship, 7

Boys: Consolation, 5:30; Championship, 8:30

Admission: Adult $5; Students $3.

Media coverage

Public Opinion's sports team will have full coverage of the Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament.

Livestreaming: Both the boys and girls championship games will be livestreamed on GameTimePA.com and publicopiniononline.com.

Webcast: There will be a webcast of all 8 games on midpennbroadcasting.com and fmtrustonline.com.

Tweeting: A number of P.O. sports reporters will be live tweeting from the various games. Follow @EdGotwalsPO, @liziarbogast, @Jeff_Kolb and @StevePtrsn19 for full coverage of the tournament.