You could feel the tension in the room. You know it wouldn’t stay like this. It never does, never will. This is Chaminade (8-3) and St. Anthony’s after all. Across 24 agonizing minutes both Flyers and Friars waited, hoped, willed someone to break out.
The someone they got was Brian Ehrhardt, or more precisely “Bri-an Air-hart” as the Faithful at the Chaminade AAC repeatedly shouted Friday night during a 69-64 victory over St. Anthony’s.
“It was a lot of fun to play in,” the 6’3” guard said. “It makes me feel good, all my friends are here, it’s a lot of fun. I kinda like it.”
The Faithful went on, well aware that tonight the senior guard from Westbury was in the driver’s seat, getting a season-high 19 points on the way to sending their arch-rivals back along the Northern State Parkway to Huntington.
“He’s coming out of his shell offensively and the reason why is because he’s upped his physicality in the games, playing harder,” Chaminade head coach Bob Paul said. “When you play hard, when you’re more aggressive, the game gets easier for you and that’s what he has to do because that’s one of his strengths.”
Ehrhardt has become more of an inside player since coming up on the varsity level, admitting that his outside game is “a little shaky” as compared to having his shots fall much easier as a junior.
“I like to run up and down and get quick, easy buckets and layups,” said Ehrhardt, who bolted out of the gate with 10 points in the first, including a trey. “That’s how we play in practice every day. I’m just trying to get to the hoop and get the throw.”
St. Anthony’s head coach Jim Fenton conceded that Chaminade “took advantage of us inside. We did a very poor job in the paint for the most part and our defense was active but not as good as it should have been.”
The Friars had battled feverishly back and forth, ending the first two quarters within a point or two, respectively of their hosts but only held one brief lead in the contest when Leland Williams managed a 3-point play on a foul early in the frame.
Chaminade was able to rattle off a 7-0 run across the end of the third into the fourth and a 10-1 run late when both teams began to get into foul trouble.
“Coach Paul pulled us over in the fourth quarter in a time out and said ‘you’ve been here before, you’re seniors and you guys should take on the pressure’ and we did,” Ehrhardt said.
“We needed one decent quarter of defense,” Paul said. “We just had not been playing very good defense over the past seven quarters.”
St. Anthony’s had sent Ehrhardt to the line three times in the final quarter, making five of his six shots; those were also the only six out of the 16 opportunities Chaminade had at the line Friday night.
“I was petrified,” Paul said. “Thank God the clock went faster than our free throws.”
Nigel Carter led St. Anthony’s with 22 points, including three from behind the arc. “The pace seemed to get to him a little bit,” Fenton commented, adding of Anfernee Casimir who finished with 15, “they both were struggling. I think they both have more to give.”
John Patterson contributed an additional 18 points for Chaminade.
Sighed Fenton: “it’s rough, it’s fast, it’s exciting, if you don’t have the heart, you shouldn’t be here.”
Either the heart, or just an Ehrhardt.1 2 3 4 F St. Anthony’s 19 14 12 19 64 Chaminade 21 13 21 15 69
Chaminade Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Assts Rebs Brian Ehrhardt Guard 5 1 6 19 0 5 Jon Patterson Forward 9 0 0 18 0 8 Liam Murphy Guard 4 1 0 11 5 0 Mike Walsh Forward 3 1 0 7 0 0 Thomas O’Connell Guard 2 1 0 7 0 0 Jack Carrigan Forward 0 1 0 3 0 0 Thomas Ahern Guard 1 0 0 2 0 0
St. Anthony’s Scoring Statistics Player FGs 3PTs FTs Points Nigel Carter 5 3 3 22 Anfernee Casimir 6 1 0 15 Leland Williams 4 0 1 9 Trey Kinard 1 1 2 7 Brian Dolce 3 0 0 6 Joe Licciardi 1 1 0 5