A new year, a new coach and a new look to the Chickasha boys basketball team has some questioning whether or not they can achieve their state semifinal feat again this season.
All of that is, of course, speculation, but one thing is for sure: they're tired of hearing those questions and ready to discount them.
"There's not much experience coming back from las year, but I have guys that are hungry," first-year head coach Nathan Pennypacker said. "They want to prove everyone wrong."
It's true that not many had expected last year's team, led by seniors E.J. Golightly and Joey Sylvester, to rise to the heights that they did. Doubters are nothing new to the Fightin' Chicks, nor Montana Stonecalf, one of the returning players from last year.
"It was the motivation to prove everyone wrong," Stonecalf said of that late season run. "Everyone was doubting us, just like they're doubting us now. We set that as a mindset, for the people that are on the court to prove them wrong, and we did."
The motivation may be the same, but this Chickasha team is undoubtedly smaller this year compared to last. What they have lost in height, point guard Brandon Shumway said, they have gained in speed and swiftness.
"We're small this year, but I think we'll be able to keep up with teams by running the floor on them," Shumway said. "We're fast and we can get down the court better than a lot of people. Our press is going to help us, too."
The sophomore will be expected to carry much more on his shoulders than last year as the leader of the offensive side of the ball. Pennypacker says Shumway "will have to be me out on the court," and has spent a lot of time on the young guard.