GIRARD — With plenty of spots to fill within the rotation during a time of transition and upperclassmen working to get healthy, the Girard High School girls’ basketball team prepares for the upcoming season with one thing on its mind — repeating as state champs.

The Trojans appear to be fighting an uphill battle to start the season, as last year’s senior class left behind big holes in the starting lineup two of the returning players are working to get back on the court.

“We lost five of our top six scorers and we have a number of experienced players who are currently injured, so everything is a little up in the air right now,” GHS head coach Brad Herlocker said. “We have Sydnee [Crain] back at guard, which is great, but we will go through a lot of growing pains early.”

According to Herlocker, the first step towards rebounding from losing a quality senior class is getting the upperclassmen healthy.

“A key for us will be getting Jacey Murphy back,” Herlocker said. “She’s currently unable to comeback. Strength is an issue for her right now and she hasn’t been cleared yet. She would be a tremendous help to us with her experience. In addition to Jaycee, Gabby Sands will play a role for us on our team. She’s also been injured, but she’s on the mend. We think we’ll have Gabby ready to start practice.”

Although the Trojans are already facing adversity, they don’t expect to get any sympathy from other CNC teams.

“I think the CNC has prepared us very well for the postseason and I think this year will be no different,” Herlocker said. “I think it will be a highly-competitive league, as always. We have a great amount of respect for our league.”

Girard begins preparation for the upcoming season with several unknowns, so Herlocker expects the preseason practices to be competitive.

“It’s really wide open as to who will come in and win roles on the team,” Herlocker said. “It’s kind of exciting and like a new start when you lose five of your six top scorers. I’m just excited to get going and excited to see who will step up and win those roles.”

Despite facing some adversity in the early going, the Trojans expect to be at the top by the end of the season.

“We’re really just concentrated on playing one game at a time,” Herlocker said. “We know with our inexperience that we may have a rough start, but we hope to be playing very well at the end.”

— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at jbuckamneer@morningsun.net and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.