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Taylor: New schemes, set plays assist local teams

POSTED: January 8, 2012 11:49 p.m.

Web Daniel doesn’t understand why more teams don’t use set plays.

The Chestatee girls basketball coach has his team run primarily a motion offense, but the War Eagles have a number of set plays they can run in the right situations.

“It shocked me that more teams don’t run set plays,” Daniel said. “The pros run set plays all the time.

“Running plays puts pressure on teams.”

It’s certainly worked this year; Chestatee is still 10-5 after a close loss to North Hall on Friday night.

In the loss to the senior-led Lady Trojans, the young Lady War Eagles took their final lead on one such play. Danielle Stephens, out near the 3-point arc, fired a pass over the defense to Chestatee’s Meagan Kenimer, who had snuck behind the North Hall defense for the easy layup.

For many high school basketball teams, set plays are reserved for the inbounds pass or the end of a quarter or half.

Daniel thinks that part of the reason more teams don’t use more set plays is that, once an opponent recognizes the play about to be run, it’s easy to stop. Which is why Chestatee has nearly a dozen plays at its disposal.

Against certain opponents Daniel will call a few set plays early, plays to help get the Lady War Eagles out to an early lead.

“When we need two points, we’ll run a set play,” Daniel said.

Which is why Chestatee saves many of its special plays for later in the season, when two points could mean the difference between a trip to the state tournament or an early trip home.

Whether the Lady War Eagles are running a set play or simply out of the motion offense, Daniel said he trusts his players to make the right decisions.

And with the offensive scheme and set plays intact, it’s not hard to see why Chestatee is still a tough team to beat, despite the loss of last year’s leading scorer Peyton Robertson (17 points per game and eight rebounds per game her senior season).

Last year the offense and set plays were geared toward getting Robertson and the other stars the ball. This year the structure has allowed a team with a number of new faces to once again be a threat in Region 8-AAA North.

Still, it’s always tough for a team to lose its leading scorer.

For the Johnson boys, installing a more structured offense wasn’t an option, it was a necessity after losing its top scoring threat, senior Matt Hollis, to an injury.

When Johnson senior guard Matt Hollis went down with a meniscus tear in the Lanierland tournament last month, the Knights were forced to adapt.

With the leading scorer out for a few weeks and starter Cedric Harris done for the season with a shoulder injury, Johnson coach Jeff Steele had to retool the offense to take advantage of the strengths of the remaining players.

Instead of a team led by Hollis, who could create his own shot and shots for others, the Knights had to find more structure.

The changes worked; Johnson won its final three games of 2011 prior to opening the 8-AAA South schedule with close losses at West Hall and against Monroe Area.

Now Hollis is close to returning to the lineup after his recovery time.

“We have to be a little more structured without Matt,” Steele said. “We’re going to have to have him conform to the structure, but if he does that he’ll thrive, because it will put him in the best positions.”

Offenses and schemes are built to put players in the best positions, whether it’s Johnson’s leading scorer finding the best shot or Chestatee’s girls moving the ball between the forwards and the shooters to find the open look.

A successful set play can’t guarantee a win, but a quick and easy two points helps.

Zac Taylor is a sports writer for The Times. Contact him at ztaylor@gainesvilletimes.com.



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