CHAPMANVILLE — The Chapmanville Regional High School girls’ basketball team will have plenty of returning players from last year’s squad.
There will also be a whole class of incoming freshmen and new players.
CRHS second-year coach Kristina Gore hopes the blend works very well this season.
Chapmanville is slated to open the 2021-22 season on Nov. 30 at home against Liberty, before playing at Herbert Hoover on Dec. 2 in the Cardinal Conference opener.
The Lady Tigers destroyed Liberty, 57-9, in last year’s sectional tourney.
Chapmanville closed out with a 3-12 mark last season, falling to Mingo Central (54-42) in the Class AA sectional finals and then losing to No. 2-ranked and eventual state champion Wyoming East (82-17) in the regional co-finals.
It was a learning experience for the Lady Tigers, which dropped their first eight games of the season, but there were many silver linings.
Chapmanville’s young players saw a lot of court time and got a lot of experience and, with no seniors on last year’s roster, most of the Lady Tigers’ team is back for the round ball season.
CRHS showed much improvement this summer during the off-season and hope that bleeds over to the regular season.
Gore and the Lady Tigers are excited about this year’s prospects.
“I look for us to have a balanced attack this year. We have multiple girls that can score in different ways. When teams prepare for us, they won’t be able to key in on just one or two players. You’ll have to guard us all. I’m very optimistic about our outlook for this season. We have the pieces we need to make a serious jump from where we were last year.”
The Lady Tigers have several newcomers and incoming freshman on the roster.
Two of those freshmen are Daizi Farley and Haley Fleming.
“Daizi and Haley are a special duo,” Gore said. “They complement each other very well. Honestly, those two remind me a lot of the dynamic Kara (Willis) and I had when we played together. Haley is very aggressive and has the ability to get all the way to the basket any time she wants to, and Daizi is a knock down shooter and has been working hard to improve her game off the dribble. Both have great speed and a lot of the intangibles that you can’t teach. They are both incredibly competitive and give 110% when they are on the floor.”
Freshmen Brooke Christian, Laken Parks, Makayla Parsons, Savannah Kirk and Braylee Podunavac round out the frosh.
“Brooke and Laken weren’t able to spend a lot of time with us this off-season because both are tremendous softball players, but they are definitely making up for lost time real quick,” Gore said. “Both are smart players and catch onto new concepts quickly. It feels like Brooke has grown a foot since the sixth grade, which has really helped her be able to win rebounding battles and block some shots. I look for both of them to play key roles for us, along with the majority of our freshman class.
“Laken is going to help us do a lot of the things we want to do defensively. She’s quick, and anticipates what’s coming next before it happens. Back when I coached her in sixth and seventh grade I really challenged her as a point guard to be a coach on the floor. She’s got great leadership skills and her teammates trust and respect her.”
Kirk, Podunavac and Parsons are pressing for playing time.
“Savannah and Braylee worked really hard this summer to elevate their games to adjust to the high school level. Both girls give you everything they’ve got and are super kids,” Gore said. “Offensively, Savannah has improved leaps and bounds. She’s able to take the ball to the basket and utilizes ball fakes effectively to get the defense out of position. I’ve noticed a lot of improvement in Braylee just in our first week. She is a hustler and will make things happen on the floor just because she wants it more.
“I was really glad to see Makayla Parsons back out for basketball this year. She didn’t play last year as an 8th grader during the shortened COVID season. She’s another hustler and creates a lot of havoc. She’s been showing up early getting extra work in on her jump shot. I really like what she brings to the table.
“Aayla Browning is another freshman who is a part of our program but will more than likely be out most of the season if not all with injury. We’ll be excited to get her back when we can.”
Leah Ball, Julie Campbell and Rylee Pritchard round out the Lady Tigers’ roster.
“Julie is a senior that has never played basketball before, but she’s very athletic and a good soccer player,” Gore said. “She’s doing her best in practice to learn and is getting better every day. Leah Ball (freshman) is in the same boat, except she’s more skilled in softball. I noticed her speed during homecoming week when the freshman class won the powder puff football championship.
“Even though she has never played, if you can run, you can play basketball. And she can run. Rylee has played basketball before and she has been around it her entire life with her older siblings. She has really been getting after it in practice. She’s going to continue to get better with the more experience she gets.”
CRHS, however, received some bad news last week as projected starter and senior Claire Dingess sustained a fractured ankle.
“As it stands currently, we will probably start three freshmen and two sophomores,” Gore said. “We don’t have a time table for Claire’s return yet.”