Chambersburg girls have plenty to work on
It was never going to be an easy fix.
Barry Purvis knew that when he took over the Chambersburg girls basketball program prior to the 2015-16 season.
After going 1-21 last year, the Trojans are 3-17, and with two very good teams left on the schedule (Cumberland Valley and Harrisburg), it's likely to be a 3-19 finish this season.
"On the positive side, we have won three games this year compared to one," Purvis said, "and I think we're more athletic. I knew this was going to take a while, but it's hard to be this patient."
When asked what he thought the team needed to work on most, Purvis said, "We need to work on all of our skills. There are four basic skills in basketball - catching, shooting, dribbling and passing - and we're not good at any of them."
The contrast between Chambersburg, a Class 6A school trying to build its program, and Camp Hill, a 2A school that is 17-3 and ranked No. 1 in the district, was quite evident Monday night at CASHS Field House. The Lions had a star player in Diamond Bragg - a future Division I player - and plenty of quality role players.
Camp Hill broke out to a 20-4 lead after one quarter and breezed to a 55-25 win. Bragg scored 13 points, but she also piled up 10 assists and grabbed 14 rebounds. She had some fans hooting and hollering with her between-the-legs and behind-the-back dribbles, step-back threes and passes like darts.
It's been a long, long time since the Trojans had a girls basketball player with Bragg's prowess.
As Purvis said, accurately, "We have some good athletes, but they're not basketball players. Gabby (Lecuona) and Lauren (Ocker) are good soccer players, Ashley (Adams) is a volleyball player and Ari (Burke) is a field hockey player. Basketball is the second sport to them.
"Look at the Bragg girl: she's a great player who is hard to defend and she makes all of their other players better. She's somebody they can go to when they need scoring and she's somebody the other team has to adjust to, which opens up other things."
Scoring is where it shows up most. Chambersburg is averaging only 33 points per game. No player is even close to averaging in double figures - in fact, the Trojans have had a player score in double figures only 14 times this season.
Against Camp Hill, Adams made two baskets in the first half and they were the only two field goals the team made. She led the team with eight points total. Lecuona and Ocker had four each and four other players had either three or two points.
Purvis said, "You have to have a kid who you can rely on to score in double figures. We're lucky to get girls averaging six or seven. We're getting layups and putbacks and we've pounded the ball inside, but then we don't make the shots."
Many layups and close-up shots against Camp Hill were rushed or banked way too hard off the backboard or rim.
"I think it's mostly just (not having) confidence," Burke said. "We just need to keep shooting and have more repetitions. We have played some good defense, but the offense still needs work."
"It's not like we don't do shooting drills," Purvis said. "I'd like to see them put it up softer and maybe we can get the roll."
Burke said, "This time of the season, we have a lot of games and not much practice. We've lost two of our starters and girls are having to switch positions, and not having practice makes it harder to get comfortable."
All is not bleak, however. Only one player currently getting a lot of minutes, Camryn Greenlee, is graduating, so this group of players will have another offseason to improve. The CAMS North eighth-grade team is now 11-0. And when two Chambersburg sixth-grade teams played at halftime Monday, there appeared to be some potential "basketball players" among them, including one girl who was already taller than any varsity player.
"We're hoping and wishing it can happen quicker, but right now it's just baby steps," Purvis said. "We're trying to stay positive and we realize it's a process."