Varsity Basketball

Five-for-five substitutions help Maize girls reach state

Maize senior Kirsten Chamberlin wasn't sure what to think when first-year coach Jerrod Handy told the Eagles about his plan for games.

Instead of subbing a player here or there, Handy wanted to substitute regularly with a new set of five players.

"Last year I was playing almost the whole game and never coming out, so at first it was hard to adjust with the five in and five out," Chamberlin said.

But Maize won five games last season, so she welcomed the change. It's worked, as Maize advanced to the Class 6A tournament this week. The Eagles will play Washburn Rural on Wednesday at Emporia's White Auditorium. Maize (16-6) last went to state in 2006.

"Their main goal is to win," Handy said. "They definitely like the possibility of winning over playing time. They're really unselfish.

"... It's been our theme — how can we set ourselves apart from everybody else? That's been our depth and our unselfishness."

Handy, who coached at Northwest last season, concocted the plan during tryouts.

"I couldn't tell the difference between a lot of their play," he said. "I was still learning their names. It was good for me. I didn't have any preconceived thoughts about them. I was going in with a totally fresh mind about the girls."

But Handy credits the seniors for accepting the change.

"These girls have been awesome," he said. "The seniors have had to sacrifice time. They don't get as many minutes. I play two freshmen up, and they've had no problems with attitude. The seniors are the ones leading the cheers on the bench."

Maize's first group consists of seniors Alicia Nicholson, McKenzie Cox, Chamberlin and Sarah Witt. Junior Erin Roeser rounds out the starting five.

The next wave is sophomores Lisa Tamasu and McKenzie Hartzog, freshmen Jurnee Newberry and Paige Lungwitz and junior Devon McCreath. McCreath has a shoulder injury but could be back today.

"We've got a really deep bench," Roeser said. "We have some awesome freshmen and sophomores that can help the juniors and seniors. We just go in and out and they can play with the same intensity as that of all the other girls.

"It's consistent. It's five in and five out. We're wearing (teams) out."

Each group has a little different style, too. Because Witt (5-foot-11) and Roeser (5-11) are Maize's only real height, the first group plays a high-low offense. The other group plays four perimeter guards.

"The defense will change sometimes, depending on how the game will go," Handy said. "We have a little quicker team with the second group, so we will try to play man-to-man."