PITSBURG – Franklin Monroe will have a lot new faces this year after having an amazing run over the last 4 years with Abbey Moore at the helm.
Moore has moved to Arcanum as Athletic Director and coach of the Lady Trojans basketball team as well.
Graduation hit the Jets hard losing 5 seniors – Corina Conley, Chloe Peters, Audrey Cable, Belle Cable and Chloe Brumbaugh and that’s a lot of experience to try and replace.
Jumping into the driver seat this year will be Zane Shellabarger who has been the Junior Varsity Boys basketball coach over the last few years. He’ll take the steering wheel … but has some fine-tuning to do before he gets the car up and running.
The Jets have three seniors, Stella Shellabarger, Chloe McGlinch and Janessa Koffer. Two Sophomores Jaliyah Nichols and Madison Henninger and two freshman Olivia Sease and Lillie Shellabarger.
Coach Shellabarger will look to his daughter and 3-year starter Stella Shellabarger and Chloe McGlinch for experience and leadership, two key players who have had success over the last few years.
“Stella is our most consistent performer and will have to wear a few different hats. We lack size and she may find herself playing a 5 spot one night, a 3 or 4 another night. We have to rely on her to help us out where ever we need her,” Shellabarger said.
“Chloe has been a good shooter over the last couple of years but we are going to have to ask her do some things she hasn’t had to do in the past and we will rely on her as well,” Shellabarger stated.
A surprise for the team this year was having Janessa Koffer come out for basketball after missing the last 3 years.
Janessa will play the 2 or 3 spot but can play the 1 if we need her too. She has a good shot and is very fast and competitive. She was very competitive in volleyball and that is what we need,” Shellabarger added.
The Jets then will look to two sophomore and two freshman to round out the squad. Sophomore Jaliyah Nichols is a fast wing player and can help bring the ball up the floor. Sophomore Madison Henninger will fill in at the 4-5 spot.
Freshman Olivia Sease will be asked to help play point guard and Shellabarger is pleased with what he sees from her so far.
“She obviously is young, but talent wise she is good and sees the floor extremely well for a freshman,” Shellabarger commented.
Also seeing time as a freshman will be Lillie Shellabarger. She is long, plays very hard and is good fundamentally, and I’m not saying this because she’s my daughter, but I know she will give everything she has when she’s on the floor,” Shellabarger praised.
With the Jets youth and roster limitations coach Shellabarger is looking to maximize their strengths.
Shellabarger’s offensive strategy is going to be very simple play up-tempo.
“We don’t have a lot of height; our tallest girl is 5’7” so I really want to get out and “RUN” Shellabarger exclaimed. “We will try to push the ball as much as we can. Our biggest strength is speed, quickness and athleticism and we have to use that to our advantage. Offensively our best shot is the first open shot … if it takes us 12 seconds to get a shot up we aren’t going to win games,” Shellabarger said.
Shellabarger also wants to play aggressive defensively as well.
“Defensively we will try to be aggressive and “D” up in your face, but we have to be strategic with our pressure, we can’t allow teams to get comfortable in a half-court and pound us inside because we lack size, but we also can’t pressure the whole game either with a limited roster,” he added.
Shellabarger is optimistic and feels on any given night they can compete with anyone.
“I’m very excited, this group of girls might be small in stature but hey have huge hearts. They aren’t going to be happy just being average, they want to be great.”
“My goal as a coach – win or lose, is that after a game the other team knows they were in a fight and we played them as hard as we could,” Shellabarger stated.
Shellabarger believes the conference has a lot of good teams but the top four teams he sees are Tri-Village, Arcanum, Bradford and Bethel.He also thinks Miami East and his squad could have something to say about the league race as well.
“Right now, the title goes through Tri-Village, Brad Gray has a solid program and they keep hanging banners up over there and until someone knocks them off it goes through them,” Shellabarger said.
He also believes Arcanum under former FM coach Abbey Moore is going to be tough as well. “She is such a great basketball coachbutan even better person and they have a lot of talent on that team,” Shellabarger added.
“Right now, I’m thankful that we are playing and hope we get the season in, we are so lucky to have this opportunity and ready to get started. Our kids have done everything we’ve asked them to do, they’ve followed the rules, wear their masks, socially distance, put in the time and work,” now let’s go play some ball,” Shellabarger concluded.