In his third year at the helm of the West Orange girls team, head coach Shrell Chamberlain has his team heading in the right direction.
If you look up the word “domination,” you may just find a team photo of the West Orange girls basketball team.
Since taking over the program three years ago, head man Shrell Chamberlain has led the Warriors out of the cellar and has molded them into one of the best teams in the area.
So far this season, the Warriors are 8-1 through nine games, with the only loss coming at the hands of district rival Wekiva.
“We got all of our starters back — that’s the main thing we have,” Chamberlain said. “We have four seniors who are going to play collegiate ball next year, mixed with some strong juniors. So we got our core back, but then we probably have two of the best freshmen in the state, so that makes us even more of a strong team.”
That core group of athletes — which includes players such as seniors Morgan Beacham, Sarah Placide and Kennedi Rodgers — has been a part of the program that Chamberlain has led to an overall record of 55-14 in the last three years, which includes a district title and back-to-back playoff appearances. The Warriors’ district title last year was the first since the 2011-12 season.
“We have four seniors who are going to play collegiate ball next year, mixed with some strong juniors. So we got our core back, but then we probably have two of the best freshmen in the state, so that makes us even more of a strong team.”
— Shrell Chamberlain
This year’s team is balanced on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Warriors have the outside shooting threats of players such as Beacham and Rodgers, while the size of interior players such as freshman forward Paris Pickett (6-foot-3) and Placide (6-foot-1) allows the team the ability to knock around undersized defenses.
“Paris is 6-foot-3 and is getting offers already, and I mean, she is already averaging — as a freshman — 15 points per game,” Chamberlain said. “She has a skill set that I’ve never seen a freshman have. She is just a big presence down low.”
While there’s a lot to be proud of with his team, one of Chamberlain’s favorite aspects about West Orange is not even related to basketball. In a time when student-athletes transfer from school to school in search of a place that will help them get to the next level, the total opposite is happening at West Orange. The players on his team are all home-grown.
“We are all representing the Winter Garden community,” Chamberlain said. “I don’t think people understand that at West Orange, we are a community team. Everybody that goes to West Orange lives in Winter Garden and the West Orange area.
“That’s the neat thing that we are doing in our community,” he said. “It’s cool that they’re successful and that they’re really representing west Orlando.”
Helping to build this team and its identity are things that Chamberlain has been working on ever since he was brought on board to help revive a struggling program.
The leaps and bounds made through the years have bolstered the girls basketball team to the point now where finding colleges for the girls has become a bit easier.
But before Chamberlain’s seniors can give thoughts to college ball, they have to help their team reach the next stepping stone — a difficult task given how hard the upcoming schedule is for the Warriors.
“We do not have a game left after next week that is a guaranteed win,” he said. “Outside of district play, we could lose seven games still this year — which I understand — but it will get us ready for the playoffs.”
For Chamberlain, developing his players always has been his No. 1 priority, but there is the hope he and the Warriors can push past the regional semis of the playoffs — the place where his team has been sent packing the last two years.
“This year our goal is to just get one step farther, and that really is regional finals and then possibly making the states,” he said. “We know that in the back of our heads that we have to make it farther than we did last year.”