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Lady Patriots becoming new family

As Heritage girls varsity basketball coach Lauren Chambers enters her 10th coaching season, she’s had the opportunity to coach a few new faces in 2013-2014.

The Lady Patriots lost six seniors from a squad that went 11-15 a season ago, and Chambers said that rebuilding her new squad has taken some time.

“We lost six seniors and when that happens, you’re going to have a lot of new girls,” Chambers said. “It’s almost like a rebuilding year for us and we really have to become a new family. It’s a fresh start for us. I just want to see the girls come together and play hard and play smart. If we do that, I think we’ll be successful.”

Chambers will look towards four primary players this season to carry her program. Alexis Hawkins, Damali Thomas, Akila Murray and BriAllen McIver will have a big role for the Lady Patriots this season, Chambers said.

“My point guard Alexis Hoffman has really taken on a leadership role and stepped up her play,” Chambers said. “She’s taken the game much more seriously and has taken the team under her wing. We’re also going to look towards Demali Thomas, our shooting guard. She has also been playing well. Akila Murray and BriAllen McIver have also been playing well. Those four are going to be big for us this season.”

With a new set of players on the court this season, Chambers said that she will make some tweaks with her offensive style, using primarily a motion-based offense to get her players into a position to score.

“We run mostly a motion offense,” Chambers said. “We lost a lot of our height from last season, so we’re going to try to run a lot of very versatile groups. With our line-up, I feel like we can do a lot of different things, like bring a post player up high and have them on a wing, or pull a guard into the post. We’re going to just have a lot of people moving as much as possible this year.”

During her tenure at Heritage, defense has been the key to Chambers’ success, and this season will be no different.

“Defense is our thing,” she said. “We’re going to be pressing a lot and using a lot of trapping defenses. We’re going to switch a lot; we can move a bunch of girls into different positions and cover a lot of area.”

With a new group, the Lady Patriots will have plenty of battles ahead of them if they hope to reach the state playoffs, with their biggest competition just a few miles down the road.

“Salem is going to be the team to beat this year,” Chambers said. “We can also never sleep on flowery branch. Cedar Shoals is always a tough game for us and Clarke Central always puts a good team together.”

The Lady Patriots will begin play Friday night on the road at Woodland.