Basketball games can be won or lost on the free throw line.
The Flyers of Chaminade learned that first hand Tuesday .
The Gaels were given such opportunities they finished with 22 points of their 72 from the line. Star forward Chavaughn Lewis alone went 12-14.
By the time Kellenberg rolled into the AAC Friday evening in the opening round of the NSCHSAA quarterfinals, the Flyers and the foul line had more than reconciled – they became best friends.
As a team, Chaminade went 23-28 from the line in their 60-41 victory. Thirteen of these points came when the Flyers needed them the most – the fourth quarter.
Things were going well for Chaminade in the first half, going on a 13-0 tear by dominating Kellenberg on both ends of the court.
“We wanted to beat them on transition by turning defensive boards into offensive lay-ups,” senior co-captain Kevin Sheehy said after the game.
The strategy went off without a hitch and the Firebirds were held scoreless until Marco Martino delivered a timely tear drop at the 2:35 mark in the first quarter.
Martino then made a valiant attempt at digging his team out in the second quarter, scoring 11 of his 14 total points, including a much-needed 4-point-play at 1:21, but still left him the only Firebird scorer.
The Flyers maintained their healthy lead going into the third quarter, but at least one person was inspired by Martino’s streak. Kevin Bowles exploded out of the locker room and scored seven unanswered points, including an impressive trey over Sheehy’s hands.
While Bowles proceeded to score nine of his 11 total points, it was Chaminade’s turn to miss lay-ups and put-backs. They finished the quarter with a lackluster 8 points and the gap was becoming unfomfortably close.
“You guys cannot foul!” Flyer Head Coach Jim Quinn said to his bench before the start of the fourth, the Flyers having five fouls while Kellenberg had racked up six.
The match had been a physical one. Chaminade’s star center Rich Zoller got tripped up on a Flyer fast break at 3:43 in the first quarter and was slow getting up.
Sheehy, senior forward James McCaffrey and guard John Gallego had all tasted hardwood for dinner.
“They were playing like they had nothing to lose and they played very well,” Sheehy said of the Firebirds, “but we like to get physical right back.”
Chaminade did so in a sly manner, taking bumps and bruises with them. Instead of being overly aggressive on defense, they focused their physicality on drives to the basket. By adamantly pushing the ball to the hole with just the right amount of fervor to not earn the offensive fouls, they forced Kellenberg to either risk a foul or accept a basket.
“My defender was overplaying me,” Sheehy said, “so when I went to the basket, I knew he would reach in.”
Kellenberg’s offense was consistent, but picking up their seventh foul at 7:16 hurt them irreparably. After that, even fouls that were not defensively committed under the net sent the Flyers to the line.
“It was a pretty physical game but we are used to it,” said Zoller, who mentioned that the Flyers practice lay-ups while running through pads to simulate driving the ball through traffic.
“Besides,” he continued, “we are all friends.”
Chaminade finished the regular season with a 8-4 NSCHSAA record and a 17-6 overall record. This NSCHSAA quarterfinal win puts them in a semifinal match against .1 2 3 4 F Kellenberg 4 11 13 13 41 Chaminade 19 14 8 19 60 Chaminade Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Assts Rebs Kevin Sheehy Guard 1 1 9 14 0 0 Richard Zoller Center 6 0 1 13 0 9 John Gallego Guard 1 1 4 9 0 0 Luke Columbo Guard 4 0 0 8 0 10 James McCaffrey Forward 2 1 1 8 4 7 Brendan Ahern Guard 0 0 2 2 0 0 Patrick Farrell Forward 0 0 2 2 0 0 Matthew Gonyon Guard 0 0 2 2 0 0 Christopher Kustera Forward 0 0 1 1 0 0 P.J. Barry Guard 0 0 1 1 0 0