Perfect Trojans know there's work left

January 05, 2007|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Chambersburg was the unanimous No. 1 pick by The Herald-Mail sports staff in the first Super 7 boys basketball poll, and for good reason. The Trojans (9-0) are one of two area prep basketball teams to enter 2007 undefeated - the other is No. 2 Hedgesville (6-0).

It all made for a very merry holiday for Chambersburg coach Shawn Shreffler and the rest of the Trojans. But they know there's plenty of work left to be done in the challenging Mid-Penn Commonwealth.

"I think they feel good about what they did, but they also understand our league is such that the moment you start feeling good is the moment someone comes up and beats you," Shreffler said Thursday. "If you don't come prepared to play, anybody in our league can beat you."

The Trojans returned seven players from last year's varsity roster. While losing Jonathan Motichka to graduation was a blow, for the most part Chambersburg entered this season expecting big things.


"That maturity has really helped so far, in the fact that we're going into each game with a fairly good mindset knowing what we need to do to be successful," Shreffler said. "We don't have a big margin of error - we can't play a 'C' game and win. There've been games we haven't played to our ability for a quarter or so, but they're a pretty competitive group of kids. When the focus is there, in those situations, we've been able to buckle down and find a way to pull out the win."

Armond Perez has stepped up his game to lead the way. The 6-foot-6 forward is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and two blocks per game.

"The biggest thing that I really like about Armond is he's willing to listen and learn," Shreffler said. "He doesn't know all the answers and he doesn't step on the floor thinking he's a finished product. He's willing to listen and take criticism, and not all kids are willing to do that. He's a player you can talk to and try to get him to become a better player, and he wants to be better and play really well. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to play well.

"This year he's being a little more assertive. We implement him more into the offense than we did last year, and a lot of different things will go through him because of his ability to score down low and step out and shoot from the arc. He passes well. I think he does lot of things real well."

Chambersburg's defense has been the anchor to the Trojans' success. They're allowing opponents only 45.1 points per game.

"We just feel that defense is our constant," Shreffler said. "It needs to be there night in and night out, because you don't know when the offense won't be there. So we rely on defense quite a bit and the kids have bought into it."

Milestone watch

Greencastle's Jaren Gembe and Boonsboro's Jerica Hewett are each closing in on 1,000 career points.

Gembe needs 27 points to reach the milestone. If he doesn't get it tonight at home against rival Waynesboro, he likely will in front of his home fans Monday against Northern York.

"It's certainly special," said Garon Gembe, the Blue Devils' coach and Jaren's father. "A thousand points is a milestone, but it is what it is. It's about the team, and we want to make sure we're playing at a high level from a team standpoint. We haven't talked about it much personally. We'll be proud when it happens, but it's not a huge priority."

Jaren Gembe has always been able to fill up the net. It's how he goes about doing it that Garon Gembe says has changed.

"I think probably as a sophomore, he was just a catch-and-shoot kind player," Garon Gembe said. "Today, he's able to create his own shot a lot better. He's added that part to his game where he can take people off the dribble and create, and he can jump over people to get shots off. Those two things have allowed him to score at a higher pace."

With the Blue Devils' roster in flux so far this season, due to injuries, academic issues and disclipinary issues, Jaren Gembe has been a constant.

"He's always a kid we can always rely on," Garon Gembe said. "Just the trust factor itself is so important as a coach. I know on every night he's going to be out there giving it 100 percent and make good decisions on and off the court. It's one less worry I have to worry about. I have enough to worry about."

Hewett, the 2005-06 Herald-Mail Player of the Year, needs 55 points to reach 1,000.

"She's so unselfish, she probably could have had this a long time ago," Warriors coach Max Shaffer said. "But she's so unselfish, she gives up the ball to make her teammates better. That's what she's about. She's always asking me after the game what her assists are. Most kids are asking about their points, she's asking about her assists and steals.

"Her work ethic's unbelievable. She always gives 110 percent. She plays as hard in practice as in a game. She plays hurt. She cares about her teammates so much. She's very competitive. ... I've had some great players, and she's in the top five."

The No. 7 Warriors are 5-2, though Shaffer said they haven't reached their full potential yet.

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