After a one-win season last year, and four total wins since 2014, the Chambersburg Lady Trojans girls basketball team has nowhere to go but up.
And despite losing its leading scorer, Lindsay Embly, Chambersburg expects to surprise some people this season.
It's a new season, new attitude for the Trojans, who have a relatively young squad that has just three seniors on the roster, including a first-year player for Chambersburg, Taymija Harrison, a transfer from New Jersey. Harrison boasts height, which Chambersburg desperately needs after losing Embly, who stood 6-foot-1, and according to second-year coach Barry Purvis, Harrison was an instant leader on the court.
Harrison, who comes in at 5-foot-11, will work the post with veteran Taylor Vrabel, who stands at 6-foot-2 and was the team's second-leading scorer last year, despite averaging 6.6 points per game.
Vrabel, a team captain, also said the team chemistry is enhanced this season, which she hopes translates to better performance on the court.
"As a team we really want to basically prove everyone wrong and prove that it's not going to be the same as last year," Vrabel said. "We have a great team chemistry and we all get along. When we play and scrimmage we play really intense and its exciting to see."
"The way our season was last year, it didn't turn out well for us, so there was a lot of bad energy when we came into the gym," said team captain Camryn Greenlee. "We were just frustrated, but now it's so much better. Everyone has an upbeat attitude when they come into the gym, and they are ready to work."
Purvis and Vrabel agree that defense is the team's biggest asset. With a few question marks surrounding the team's ability to consistently shoot the ball, Purvis said defense is going to give Chambersburg an opportunity to stay in the game.
"We just don't shoot the ball as well as we should be, but if we do shoot the ball well in a game, we are going to be tough," Purvis said. "On defense we are quick, we are aggressive and we hit the boards pretty hard. We are not going to score 60-70-80 points a game - it's just not going to happen - so we have to rely on our defense to carry us."
Sophomores Gabriel Lecuona and Lauren Ocker join the Trojans and will see a fair share of varsity time. Sophomore Ashley Adams, and juniors Ari Burke, Amanda Abbott and Hali Decker will also get their first taste of varsity this season.
Shayla Corwell, Kirsten Pugh and Shadai Joyner return to the Chambersburg lineup.
"This team has an opportunity for all the players to get a lot of playing time because they are almost fairly equal in ability, so we are kind of excited about that part," Purvis said. "We can look down the bench and pretty much put any of our players in without thinking about hurting ourselves."
The Trojans start their season against Greencastle-Antrim at the Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament on Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Waynesboro. Purvis said the matchup between Chambersburg and the Blue Devils will be a good indication of where the team stands.
"Greencastle is a very tough opponent, they have a tradition of winning," Purvis said. "So this is going to be a good barometer to see where we are at. Are we still way, way behind, or are we getting closer? That game is going to be a good start for us. We are looking forward to seeing where we are at."
Last year Chambersburg's only win came during the tip-off tournament, a 51-49 victory over Waynesboro in overtime.
Trojans at a glance
Coach: Barry Purvis, second season, 18th year (from 1979-80 to 1995- 96 he was 269-122, .688).
Last year: 1-21 (0-14 Mid Penn Commonwealth)
Starters lost: Lindsay Embly (P.O. second team), Liz Bishop, Madison Whitfield
Returning starters: Taylor Vrabel (jr., C 6-2, 6.6 ppg, P.O. Honorable Mention), Camryn Greenlee (sr., G, 5-2), Shayla Corwell (jr., G, 5-3)
Other top players: Taymija Harrison (sr., F, 5-11), Gabriel Lecuona (so., G, 5-5), Lauren Ocker (so., G, 5-6).
Season opener: Friday at the Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament in Waynesboro vs. Greencastle-Antrim, 3:30.