Jeff Schaffer will be back in a familiar spot this season, and that familiarity is why he is where he is.
Schaffer is back as the girls basketball head coach at Sumter High School - for now on an interim basis - after the late resignation of …
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Schaffer is back as the girls basketball head coach at Sumter High School - for now on an interim basis - after the late resignation of Frances Fields for personal reasons just before the start of practice for the upcoming season.
Schaffer was the head coach at Sumter for six seasons from 2002-08 before stepping down. However, he has been part of the SHS boys program in some form or fashion practically since his resignation.
"I think they wanted someone who was already at the school, already familiar with the players, already in place who can come in and pick up the pieces and run with it," said Schaffer, who begins his second tenure on the SHS girls bench today when Sumter plays host to Hartsville beginning at 6 p.m.
Schaffer won't be the only familiar "new" face on the bench. Chris Vandevander, who succeeded Schaffer as head coach, will be his assistant.
Schaffer and Vandevander will have a lot of familiar faces to work with as they lost only one starter in Taylor Miles from last year's 3-18 team. Three of the returning starters are sophomores Carnasia Wells, Tamerah Brown and Nina Edlow and the other is senior Latrice Lyons.
Brown led the team in scoring with a 12.4 points-per-game average. Wells average 7.7, Lyons 6.7 and Edlow 5.1. Also, Dynasia Jackson, another sophomore, averaged 6.1 points. Schaffer isn't sure if she will be available today though as she is going through concussion protocol.
The fifth starter will be freshman Layken Cox, who started on the junior varsity as an eighth-grader last season.
Schaffer said his focus leading into the season has been to get the Lady Gamecocks as well prepared defensively as possible.
"The thing we've been stressing is how we perform on the defensive end," said Schaffer, who was 98-56 in his six years at SHS. "Hopefully being good on defense will help us get some points offensively. We want to be able to get in the other teams' face and force them to do things they don't want to do for 32 minutes. We're going to mix it up with zone, man, running traps. We'll do what works."
Quanjene Brown saw significant time for Sumter last year in the front court and she returns as well to offer some depth.
Schaffer said Sumter has scrimmaged against defending 5A state champion Goose Creek and 4A runner-up Wilson.
"I wanted to see what we're made of," Schaffer said. "We got knocked around a little bit by Goose Creek, but they've had a tremendous program for the past 15 years or so. We didn't back down from them though. We battled with them and I was happy about that."
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