The disappointment of last season's uncharacteristic 10-win season left a bad taste in the mouths of Chantilly boys basketball players and coaches throughout the offseason. After all, Chantilly posted 82 wins in the four seasons prior to last year, further solidifying its status as a Northern Region powerhouse.
After three wins to start the 2012-13 campaign, the empty feelings of a season ago are fading fast. The most recent, a 55-47 victory at Madison Tuesday night, further illustrated the simple truth that this is a new season and a new team.
"The kids are excited and energized to play well and have a special season," said Chargers head coach Jim Smith, who is in his 22nd season at Chantilly. "We feel like we have a lot to prove this season as coaches and players after last season. Sometimes adversity is a good thing for a program to experience because it forced us all to look at ourselves and work harder and play smarter to ensure we get back to contender status."
The Chargers got off to a quick start Tuesday at Madison, opening up a 30-18 halftime lead. Much of the early damage was courtesy of an effective full-court pressure defense that forced several Warhawk turnovers, leading to Chantilly transition points. Sophomore guards Tyler Femi (6 points) and Dylan Madawo (7 points), as well as junior guard DeAndre Harris (8 points), used their quickness to speed up the tempo and play the fast type of game Madison hoped to avoid. Long range shooting from Harris also did damage for the Chargers. Junior forward Mark Anstoos also provided a spark off the bench with several offensive rebounds and a tip in as part of his 8 points on the night.
"Mark gave us a great lift off the bench," Smith said.
A brutal 4 minute stretch to start the second half saw Madison run off 13 unanswered points to take a one point lead 31-30, but sophomore forward Josh Conwell (5 points) drilled a 3-pointer from deep in the corner and senior leading scorer Brian Sydnor's drive in traffic put Chantilly back up to stay. Sydnor finished with 19 points, including 9 in the fourth quarter, erasing any shot at a Madison comeback.
"Brian really stepped up in the fourth quarter," Smith said. "He gave us a lift late offensively and that's what good senior scorers do."
Chantilly played short-handed as forward Sean Huelskamp sat out with a balky back and junior guard Raeshawn Smith missed the game because of a hip injury suffered in the team's first scrimmage two weeks ago. Both are expected back soon.
"We feel good about our depth, especially when we get healthy," Smith said. "We got tremendous production off the bench against Madison with Conwell and Anstoos, as well as Ben McGrath. We are relatively young, especially at the guard spot, but our kids are talented and I expect us to continue to improve throughout the season with the goal of playing our best basketball at tournament time."
The Chargers play their first home game Friday night against West Potomac. Tip off is at 7:30 pm.
Player 2pt FG 3pt FG FTM-A REB PTS
Brian Sydnor 7 1 2-3 19
Mark Aanstoos 4 0 0-0 8
Deandre Harris 2 1 1-2 8
Dylan Madawo 1 0 5-8 7
Tyler Femi 3 0 0-1 6
Josh Conwell 1 1 0-0 5
Trey Coates 1 0 0-0 2
Totals 19 3 8-14 55
Player 2pt FG 3pt FG FTM-A REB PTS
Phillip Davine 7 0 5-6 19
Patrick Murphy 5 0 0-0 10
Tommy House 0 2 0-0 6
Sekai Walker 3 0 0-0 6
Brad Mann 2 0 0-2 4
Ben Sanford 0 0 2-4 2
Kyle Karp 0 0 0-2 0
Will Sparrow 0 0 0-1 0
Totals 17 2 7-15 47