WYE MILLS — Chesapeake College’s women’s basketball team will again put a premium on tempo this season.

When last seen the Skipjacks in 2020 — COVID-19 wiped out last season—they dominated teams with their high-octane offense, averaging an eye-catching 91 points per game, the most in Gwen Barnes’ seven seasons as head coach.

The Skipjacks are eager to duplicate that type of scoring this season.

“We are just a really good run-and-gun team,” Skipjacks’ sophomore point guard Azayah Garrison said. “We are really good at transition basketball, going down the court and scoring quickly. We are going down the court so fast, it’s tough for teams to keep up with us.”

Chesapeake can also play tenacious defense. Two 6-foot-4 sophomore transfers, Tatiana Holmes, who played last season at Florida’s Broward Community College, and Allayah Brown-France, protect the rim well.

The Skipjacks ranked among the leading Division II junior colleges in the country in rebounding in 2020. Barnes said her team could do it again.

“I believe we can, and rebounding is just part of our makeup,” Barnes said. “It’s hard to do, but our player development and their will to play hard make it easy. Everybody on the team crashes the boards and fights for rebounds.”

The high point totals and outstanding defense could add up to another strong season. The Skipjacks, who opened the season Tuesday at Mercer (N.J.) Community College, went 20-6 two years ago and 20-7 the previous season.

“We are very energized and we really trust in what we have got to do in our roles,” said sophomore guard Jayla Irwin, one of two returning players from the 2020 team. “We got the shooters, we are fast and we have great rebounders. We just have it all.”

The 5-5 Garrison, a fine shooter and pesky defender, skillfully sets up her teammates.

She’s expected to emerge as a top-flight performer.

“She has a lot of speed and pushes the ball up the floor well,” Barnes said. “She is a seasoned guard and knows our system. She really has improved her jump shot and leadership skills. Those are the things she really has worked on since coming in as freshman.”

Backcourt depth is another team strength. The 5-8 Irwin will get plenty of minutes at shooting guard.

The Skipjacks also boast sophomore guards Nathalie Arroyave (5-7), Deliyah Mohamad (5-10) and Taylor Bussey (5-8) and freshman guard La’Niya Washington (6-1).

Barnes has been especially impressed with Mohamad, a shooting guard.

“She is an excellent defender, rebounds and handles the ball well,” the coach said. “She is a really great shooter and goes to the rack really well.”

With Holmes, Brown-France and freshman forward Na’kalya Smith, the Skipjacks have three post players with the potential to play at a high level.

Holmes could lead the team in rebounding and be a solid offensive contributor.

“At the Florida junior college, she really rounded the ball well and made nice outlet passes to the guards,” Barnes said. “And she has some really good post moves.”

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

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