First-year coach Duane Williams hopes the Dayton Chaminade-Julienne High School girls basketball team's visit to Pickerington for the KeyBank Holiday Classic will help prepare the Eagles for a return visit to Columbus for the Division II state tournament in March.

First-year coach Duane Williams hopes the Dayton Chaminade-Julienne High School girls basketball team's visit to Pickerington for the KeyBank Holiday Classic will help prepare the Eagles for a return visit to Columbus for the Division II state tournament in March.

Chaminade-Julienne was 17-7 overall last year after losing to Mason 52-49 in a district final. It plays Louisville (Ky.) duPont Manual on Monday.

"The Holiday Classic is good for our team on many levels, but the main one is team unity," said Williams, whose team is averaging 59.3 points a game and allowing only 30 points during a 3-0 start. "You're spending three consecutive days together, eating every meal together. If we can do that without getting on each other's nerves, it's going to help us make that run in March."

Since the 1997-98 season, the Eagles have made six trips to the state tournament. Chaminade-Julienne won state titles in 1999, 2003 and 2005, and was runner-up in 1998, 2001 and 2004.

However the last four years have been a long, uncomfortable wait for the Eagles. Last year was the first time since the 1997-1998 season that a senior class didn't reach the state tournament.

The program went through an ugly offseason. Former coach Marc N. Greenburg was arrested in a FBI sting in May and charged with 12 counts of violating federal obscenity laws. Greenburg pled not guilty and his trial is set to begin in March.

Also in the offseason, Chaminade-Julienne was hit with a $2,500 fine, loss of scrimmages and not being able to play out of state for two years for playing in a tournament in Phoenix when school was in session.

A former assistant, Williams was named as the team's head coach in July.

"I didn't get to spend as much time with the team as I wanted to in the preseason," said Williams, who served as president of the Dayton Hoopstars AAU girls program for 15 years. "The good thing was I knew a lot of our seniors because I was there when they were freshmen and sophomores."

Williams takes over Chaminade-Julienne with a roster rich in talent. Leading the way is Samarie Walker, a 6-foot-1 senior forward/wing. Walker, who has committed to the University of Connecticut, scored 25 points in the a 68-29 victory over Marshall on Dec. 5. She has averaged 18.3 points and 5.3 steals a game this year.

"A lot of what we're going to do this year is going to be centered around her," Williams said. "When she gets inside one-on-one it's almost impossible to stop her. With the attention she gets from other teams, it creates a lot of open looks for other players. She has to be able to recognize that."

The Eagles have a lot of other talent to work with Walker.

Chaminade-Julienne returned six seniors, including 6-3 post player Mileah Walker (no relation to Samarie), who has committed to Howard University, 5-6 guard Nicky Disbrow and 5-5 guard Sierra Gage. The team has a talented sophomore class led by point guard Simonne Gage (5-3), who had nine assists in the win over Marshall, and forward Raytea Long (6-0). Simonne Gage is averaging 5.7 assists and 4.0 steals a game.

"This tournament is a chance for us to build up stamina. There's not going to be any days off," Williams said.