Photos and story by Chet Piotrowski Jr.

With an exceptionally young and inexperienced squad, first-year coach Shani Iberg understands it will take some time to build back the girls basketball program.

Tuesday was another reminder: The Trojans, who field 10 freshmen and play without a senior or anyone with significant varsity experience, lost an Apollo Conference matchup to Effingham, 66-7.

“We talked about learning to pick off a pass. We’re learning to read that pass, and finishing a layup with it. Or specific moves in practice that we can connect it within the game,” Charleston girls varsity coach Shani Iberg said. “We are focusing on those little battles. That is, what we stress versus the final score. We can’t make that important or we’re going to lose kids along the way.”

Getting the results she wants utilizing underclassmen against two- and three-year lettermen has been a challenge for Iberg.

“That’s hard for me,” she said. “I’m a go-go-go hard coach. This has been a huge transition for me and my coaching style.”

Iberg said she’s learning to balance the team having fun with learning the plays.

“We’ve had a lot of talks this week that I’ve been used to saying, ‘we don’t have talking in practice and we go-go-go,’” she said. “I also still understand that we need an outlet for fun. I’m trying to find that balance, that line of getting things done. Then, as long as we’re getting things done, then we can have a little bit of fun along the way too.”

Iberg said the players are focusing on things they can affect immediately rather than the score of a game.

“We’re focusing on the little things,” she said. “We’re talking about roles on the team – finding your role – and then really praising someone as a group for that little thing that they did right. The team needs to cheer that person on because it’s not only us as a team that benefits from it, but it’s also you that benefits from it, because you’re on the team, too. We win or lose together. Every little battle is a battle we win for the team, not the individual. Then celebrating that individual’s win is big.”

Starting freshman guard Elizabeth Swies, who led the team in scoring with three points, said they worked well as a team in the loss.

“I feel like we did a lot of great teamwork and talking on the court a lot better than what we have been,” she said.

Swies said the team’s communication is improving as the season progresses. 

“We feel like the team is bonding and talking it out even on the bench, and telling each other what we need to work on,” she said.


CHARLESTON – Swies 1 0-0 3, Englum 1 0-0 2, Fehrenbacher 1 0-0 2, Myerscough 0 2-2 2, Wanek-Clementi 0 0-2 0. Three-pointers: Swies 1. Totals: 3 0-4 7.

EFFINGHAM – Mapes 7 0-0 16, Wolfe 3 4-4 10, Niebrugge 3 0-0 7, 2 0-0 4, Beals 2 1-2 3, Allie 2 0-0 4, Wise 2 0-0 4, Hodge 1 0-0 3, Greene 1 0-0 2, Moser 1 1-2 3, Martin 3 2-2 8. Three-pointers: Mapes 2, Wolfe 2, Niebrugge 1, Hodge 1. Totals: 23 6-10 66.