Duane Williams weathers through each season as coach of the Dayton Chaminade Julienne High School girls basketball team with one goal in mind - postseason success.
Duane Williams weathers through each season as coach of the Dayton Chaminade Julienne High School girls basketball team with one goal in mind — postseason success.
Every regular-season game has its purpose as the Eagles struggle through tough games in the Greater Catholic League and endure tough non-league games with Division I opponents such as Centerville.
That's why Williams is glad his team has the opportunity to compete in the KeyBank Holiday Classic.
"I feel we may only have a .500 record by the end of the season, but we're in a tough league and a tough district," said Williams, whose team was 5-1 before playing Fairborn last Monday. "I think we can go there to Pickerington and compete, but whether we can make shots down the stretch is something else. We start three juniors and two sophomores. We're a young team that is going to get better."
Through six games, the Eagles were led in scoring by juniors Rayteá Long and Emily Michael.
Long, a 6-foot center, was averaging 13.5 points and Michael, a 5-8 shooting guard, was averaging 13.2 points with 12 3-pointers.
"We're pretty much a guard-oriented team with Rayteá being the only big player for us," said Williams, whose team opens in the KeyBank Classic on Tuesday against Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman. "We're an athletic team that plays high-pressure defense and tries to get the ball down the court as much as possible."
The other starters are 5-3 junior point guard Simmon Gage and sophomore guards Brittany Jefferson (5-5) and Ja'Cole Tabor (5-9). Gage and Jefferson were averaging five points and Tabor was averaging 4.5.
Senior guard Lynsay Strahorn (5-8) is the first off the bench.
"We'll play a variety of zone defenses and some half-court traps," said Williams, whose team went 2-1 in the KeyBank Holiday Classic last season, beating New Albany 55-44 in the fifth-place game. "We like to mix things up so opponents won't get too comfortable out there."
The Eagles' only loss through six games was a 51-50 setback to Centerville on Dec. 4. Long had 14 points and Michael scored 13 with two 3-pointers.
"We lost a tough game with Centerville when we made some bad decisions and missed some free throws down the stretch," Williams said. "That loss should help us by the end of the year because we're in such a tough district. We're Division II and it's tough around here with (Kettering) Alter and (Dayton) Carroll, Tipp City Tippecanoe and the Cincinnati schools. We always have our share of tough games."
Williams said the Eagles enjoy going to the KeyBank Classic.
"We're always glad when they ask us back," he said. "Some people travel all over the country. We're happy to go to a top tournament like this that is so close. We want to try not to embarrass ourselves, and I don't think we will."