GIRARD — A year after being crowned CNC champions and taking fourth in state, the Girard High School girls’ basketball team brings back many familiar faces ready to defend the league title.

The Trojans were fortunate enough to have only lost one senior, but the stakes are raised this season as the Trojans have seven seniors who are looking to make one last run at a state championship.

“The biggest thing we have to do is treat it as a new year,” GHS head coach Brad Herlocker said. “We have a lot of people coming back, but each year is different. We just have to stay hungry and really work hard in practice and do the right things.”

No drastic changes are expected to be made, as most of the usual suspects come back for another season, but Herlocker said there could be some underclassmen fighting for a chance to make an impact at the varsity level.

“We have some sophomores who may push for some time,” he said. “We graduated one senior who was a very good leader, but barring injuries, it will be a lot of the same people, with some young people pushing for playing time.”

Even though the Trojans are among the favorites expected to win the CNC, no wins in the league can be taken for granted, and they will have to remain sharp each game.

“The CNC always has multiple teams go to state, so I think that proves we have a very good league,” Herlocker said. “It makes me very excited to go up against very good teams. The CNC is always a dog fight.”

As a result of losing just one senior from last year’s squad, the Trojans bring back a veteran group filled with high expectations.

“Our strength is obviously the experience we have coming back,” Herlocker said. “It’s a very athletic group and there is great leadership on the team. We’re just excited to stop talking about it and just start playing.”

Although having a lot of upperclassmen is a positive, the downside is seeing a large group of seniors leaving at once, but Herlocker said they aren’t concerned.

“The only pressure we have is put on by ourselves,” Herlocker said. “We put quite a bit of pressure on ourselves to be our very best, and just be the best product we can be.”

Only time will tell if the Girard girls will make another run at a state title, but until the season starts, Herlocker continues to prepare his team for battle.

“The first few weeks, I’m always putting in my base stuff and trying to get a few new wrinkles in if I can,” Herlocker said. “Each year it depends on what kind of group you have. Having the veteran group we have, we’re able to get quite a bit of stuff in before that first game. Obviously, we want to have a fairly polished group ready to go for that first game.”

Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at jbuckamneer@morningsun.net and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.