By TYLER HENRY
Salina Post contributor
After a long delay to the start of their season the Chapman Fighting Irish girls basketball team was finally able to get back on the hardwood.
Chapman has gotten off to a rough 1-6 start, but a large part of that is thanks to limited practices, and less game experience than many of their opponents.
“It was a challenge, not having much practice time to work on our system offensively and defensively,” Chapman head coach Drew Gruver said. “We’ve had to learn a lot on the fly and being such a young team not having that time really hurt us.”
Coming into the 2020-21 season, the Irish had a lot of question marks regarding their lineup. While not all of those questions have been answered, Chapman has gotten a boost from a pair of freshmen in Keira Jones and Elyssa Freize, who have added around ten points per game to the offense.
Returners like Maya Kirkpartick, Shannon Anderson and Marie Meuli have rounded out a lineup that has a lot of potential, but has struggled to get into a rhythm offensively.
“Our biggest issue right now is scoring,” Gruver said. We’re getting a lot of good shots but we haven’t been able to take advantage. A lot of that has to do with the lack of practice time and as the season goes on I think that will improve.”
While the points haven’t come easy, Chapman has done a lot of good things defensively through the first half of the season, holding opponents to around 50 points per game.
“I really like how our girls are playing,” he said. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job on the defensive side and they’ve had a really good attitude all year. We’re seeing a lot of good improvement but there will be growing pains with such a young team.”
The remaining road will be none too kind to the Fighting Irish, as the back half of their schedule includes teams like Clay Center, Rock Creek, Wamego and Southeast of Saline.
However as coach Gruver pointed out, with every team in the state qualifying for sub-state, all that matters is how you finish.
“We are young, so the more experience we can get at the varsity level the more improvement we’ll see. If our defense can keep forcing turnovers I think we can sneak up on some teams. With the way things are set up it doesn’t matter what your record is, it just matters how you finish those last few games.”
Chapman is scheduled to be back in action on Friday when they will host the 3-6 Holton Wildcats.