CHAPMANVILLE — It’s a daunting task for the Chapmanville Regional High School girls’ basketball team this season.
The Lady Tigers were hit hard by graduation and only return a handful of players with varsity experience from last year’s 13-12 team which lost 31-28 to Scott in the Class AA sectional tournament at Logan.
Gone are six players — Jessica Rideout, Autumn Baisden, Chelcie Pritchard, Katelynn Manns, Hailey Price and Katelynn Hall — who were either starters or at least part-time starters.
This year’s Lady Tigers are very young with the majority of players either sophomores or freshmen.
Chapmanville, which opens the season Dec. 3 at Wayne in a Cardinal Conference game, do have some good news.
Leading scorer and senior Kristin DesRocher returns, along with junior Hillary Hainer and sophomore Shian Meeks.
The Lady Tigers, coached by David Williamson, have some size down low with sophomore Autumn Blankenship, who stands 6-foot-2.
Williamson said new players must step up quickly.
“We lost six seniors who played a lot,” he said. “We have a lot of new faces. In our first scrimmage we started one senior, one junior, two sophomores and a freshman against Westside, the No. 1 team in the state in the preseason. We’re young and we have to learn how to play varsity basketball.”
DesRocher and Hannah Vance are the only two seniors on the team.
Other than Hainer, the other junior players for Chapmanville are Codi Conley and Kim Lambert.
Williamson said he looks for DesRocher and Hainer to carry the lion’s share of the load this season. DesRocher, a 5-10 guard, can shoot, handle the ball and dish it out.
“DesRocher is a top five Double-A player in the state,” Williamson said. “She didn’t get at least third team all-state last year and no one knows how that happened. She’s the straw that stirs our drink. She’s makes us go. The ball is going to be in her hands a lot and she’s going to look to score. We’re looking for a big year out of her. She’s getting some college offers.”
The versatile Hainer stands 6-0 and will play forward. She is a good rebounder and can take the ball out deep and hit the 3-pointer.
“She’s one of the better rebounders as we have seen,” Wiliamson said of Hainer. “She can jump. She’ll start for us and she will give us some good minutes.”
Rounding out the roster are: sophomores NeNe Osborne, Kortni Packo and Katie Workman; and freshmen Alyx Bush, Taylor Manns, Abby Marcum, Alex Martin, Hannah Sparks and Richelle Thompson.
Williamson said Osborne has established herself as the point guard.
“I went through last year’s book and she played in 18 varsity games last year,” he said of Osborne. “She got a lot of playing time and played as much in her freshman year as Kristin DesRocher. We wanted to get Kristin off the point and give her more freedom.”
Meeks, who also saw some varsity time last year, also figures into Chapmanville’s plans.
“Meeks played in 16 games last year. We play three guards and she will play the three for us,” Coach Williamson said. “Right now, we look for her to get a lot of playing time. She’s had two really good scrimmages. She’s fearless. That’s the kind of attitude that we like.”
Blankenship is the Lady Tigers’ one true center.
“She’s getting some looks. She goes about 6-1 or 6-2,” Williamson said. “She’s tall and moves well. We have to work on her finish around the basket. You can’t teach size and she should really help us out on the boards.”
Conley is also back for CRHS. She played spot duty in 12 varsity games last season.
“She’s improved shooting the ball and we’re looking for somebody to take the pressure off Kristin,” Williamson said. “She can hit some outside shots. She’s going to play some big minutes.”
Martin, a standout player the last couple of seasons at Chapmanville Middle School, is the younger sister to former Chapmanville boys’ star basketball player Mackenzie Martin, who finished up his prep career last season for the Tigers.
“She’s a good player but this is a big step up as a freshman,” Williamson said of Martin. “She will play and so will Abby Marcum. Marcum actually started as a freshman in our scrimmage down at Man. Both of them will play.”
Vance, a senior, is also looking for playing time.
“She can shoot it,” Williamson said.
Packo is also pressing for playing time along with several others.
As always, Chapmanville plays a difficult schedule.
Highlighting the 2013-14 slate is a home-and-home series with Class AAA county rival Logan. The Logan Lady Cats were last year’s 3A state runner-ups. Chapmanville hosts Logan over Christmas break on Dec. 30, then plays at Logan on Jan. 11 as part of Logan High School’s King Coal Classic.
Logan swept the season series with Chapmanville, winning 66-36 and 61-30.
“Coach Gertz has the Logan girls playing well,” Williamson said. “Shayna Gore and Monica Mitchell are as good as it gets.”
The Lady Tigers are also set to play in Chapmanville’s Nationwide Classic on Dec. 14 against Pikeview. Four games are set to be played in the all-day classic which will be held at Chapmanville’s Danny Godby Gymnasium. The Logan girls and boys and the Chapmanville boys will also play in the Nationwide Classic.
The Chapmanville girls will also have a tough one on Jan. 4 in a non-conference game at Summers County. In addition, the Lady Tigers have home-and-home non-league series against Class A teams Tug Valley and Sherman.
Chapmanville plays again in its tough Class AA sectional tourney against Scott, Tolsia, Mingo Central and Wayne.
The Lady Tigers, which advanced to the 2011 Class AA state tournament, were ousted by Mingo Central in the 2012 sectional and was knocked off by Scott in last year’s sectional.
Mingo Central, Scott, Tolsia and Wayne are also members of the Cardinal Conference. Other league foes are Sissonville, Poca and Herbert Hoover.
“Scott has to be the favorite,” Williamson said when asked about the section. “They return four starters. Three of them have started in two state championship games as freshmen and sophomores. They are big with Ali Whitman, who is a Division I recruit. She’s 6-2 and they have the big Ranson girl who is 6-1. Having two like that in girls’ basketball is like having two players 6-7 or 6-8 in boys’ basketball.”
Coach Williamson said Tolsia and Mingo Central will also be tough.
“Ric Marrone at Tolsia is probably one of the best girls’ basketball coaches in the state,” he said. “Mingo Central has a new coach down there and they have 25 girls out and a lot of excitement in the air.”
Williamson said he looks for Sissonville to be good in the conference along with Scott, Mingo Central and Tolsia.
“Sissonville got a transfer in who was first-team all-stater last year from Clay County to go along with their other two all-staters,” he said. “Everybody is looking at Sissonville. They will be tough. They have a Division I guard. With our schedule and our conference we are playing against three or four Division I players.”
Back on Coach Williamson’s staff are assistant coaches Dave Elkins, P.D. Clemens and Kristina Garrett-Gore.
“I’m glad to have Kris and it’s good to have a woman on staff,” Williamson said. “It’s going to be a learning process for this team. We’re young and we’re going to throw a lot of bodies out there.”
Chapmanville Regional High School Lady Tigers
2013-14 Girls’ Basketball Schedule:
Dec. 3: at Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 10: Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 12: at Poca, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: Pikeview (Nationwide Classic at CRHS), 4 p.m.
Dec. 18: at Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 30: Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 2: Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4: at Summers County, 1 p.m.
Jan. 9: Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11: at Logan (at King Coal Classic at Logan), TBA
Jan. 13: Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15: at Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17: at Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20: Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24: at Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28: at Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30: Poca, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 6: Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 10: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13: Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18: at Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.