Franklin County boys hoops to lean on past leadership
The Chambersburg boys basketball team has found success in waves in recent years. But after an early exit from the playoffs last season, the Trojans, with three double-figure scorers returning for their senior season, are determined to not have a down year.
Cole Christian, last year's leading scorer with 15.3 points per game, Cade Whitfield (10 ppg) and ByShawn Mincie (11.1 ppg) return to lead the Chambersburg squad to what coach Shawn Shreffler hopes to be an elevated season for the program.
"I've been really impressed with the commitment that many of our guys put forth in the offseason," Shreffler said. "It's a testament to guys wanting to be good and being better. Certainly we are stronger than what we've been in the past and we are developing players. We are finally getting to the point where we are deeper than what we have been previously."
Chambersburg's battle to make it into the postseason last year was cut short by a 13-point loss in the district play-in game.
"It's hard to go out on a win, but it's motivation," Whitfield said. "I don't want my last game to be a loss. It's going to be hard but you just have to keep fighting through it, and that loss (in districts) hurt me as much as the seniors last year."
Shippensburg looks to repeat Colonial title
On the first day of practice for the Shippensburg basketball team Friday, the Greyhounds will be without two of its leaders, Carter Van Scyoc and Cody Gustafson - because they'll be suited up on the football field for a District 3 semifinal game.
But coach Ray Staver isn't worried about players missing practice for football - in fact, he's proud of it.
"People have said to me, 'This is going to screw up our basketball season,' but I say no," Staver said. "Half of our team is playing football, and that's a very positive experience and it should help us, too, because they've been through the fire and they've won a lot of games and it can only help them in basketball."
"With football being in the playoffs this deep it's a really good experience for us," Gustafson said. "And hopefully this can help us to do the same in basketball."
Staver and his team hope to feed off of the success of the football team with a big goal of their own in mind - back-to-back Mid Penn Colonial Division championships.
But getting there will be no easy trip because the team lost three of its top players - Wade Mills, Shuntan Hickman and Teagan Staver.
"I don't think we can replace their size or their athleticism, but that's the challenge at coaching the high school level," Ray Staver said. "We'll still be tall, but it won't be anything like it was last year, but we can certainly compete for a Colonial championship."
Greencastle-Antrim has a new coach
Although the Blue Devils lost just one starter in the offseason, the team has introduced a new head coach, who will employ a slightly new system, focusing on the team's speed to make up for a lack of size.
"In open gyms we focused on what we think we need, which is speed and agility, and to get stronger," Greencastle coach Rick Lewis said. "I think there will be some changes with some of the things that I like to do. Coach (Gary) Martin was very successful with his system, but I think you have to coach with your own personality. It has been an easy transition."
Greencastle returns Casey Hoover, a dominant threat at point guard, who averaged 16.5 points per game last season, and Bryan Gembe, Ian Gelsinger and Brandon Stuhler to the starting lineup. But the lineup lacks height. Gembe is the tallest on the team at 6-foot-3, but he works on the perimeter. Lewis said defensive rebounding will be the team's biggest question mark.
Hoover said, "We want to get back to that spot in districts and go even farther (than the first round) and I think with returning four starters we can accomplish that goal."
"We are fortunate that our guys off the bench are also very good players," Lewis said. "We have a unique situation that we will have eight juniors on the team, so we are heavy in that class."
"Last year I think we could have won the conference, but we had two hard losses to Shippensburg," Gembe said. "So this year I think that is what we are looking for, a conference championship."
Waynesboro returns "core four"
Despite starting on an eight-game losing streak, Waynesboro coach Tom Hoffman hopes last year's mid-season turnaround will transition over to 2016-17 with a "core four" of starters returning.
"That's always a good place to start," Hoffman said. "We have four returning starters and six or seven seniors who have been there and done that. They've been through the battle and know what it takes to be successful, and we are excited about our younger kids, too."
One of the returning four is Cameron Keck, who led the team with 13.8 ppg last year, and Kyle Hoffman, who flirted with double figures, scoring 8.2 per game.
"Early on last year our problem was putting the ball in the basket," Tom Hoffman said, "but the second half of the year everyone settled in. We were playing some pretty good basketball in the final 13 games, so we're hoping to use that with the younger guys as a springboard."
Kyle Hoffman said, "With our experience from last year we can lead the way and show others how to win games. We kind of had to do it last year with only two seniors, so I think we are used to it."
James Buchanan to rely on speed
James Buchanan lost two top players who boasted a combined 22.2 points per game, and five of its seven players who measured more than 6-feet tall.
But the returning Rockets look to use their speed to make up for limited size.
"We are going to be a smaller team, but we are going to be a lot faster than last year's team,"Jared Pine said. "We are going to look to push the ball and use our defense to create offense."
After squeezing into playoffs with a 13-10 record last season, James Buchanan fell in the first round, but hopes to make it back to districts this season.
"We want to get back to that playoff atmosphere and we are going to work hard to get back to it," Micah Wise said.