SBy Ryan Smith
Some of the most exciting games in sports are rivalry matchups, particularly those which are highly anticipated rematches. Renewing their rivalry on Friday, January 15, Chaminade’s and Kellenberg’s varsity basketball teams met before a packed house at the Activity-Athletic Center.
The Kellenberg Firebirds sought to avenge last year’s 57-38 CHSAA Finals loss to the Flyers. With a palpable buzz through the crowd, the atmosphere was fantastic for Friday night hoops.
“The building had a high intensity,” noted starting center Kyle Murphy ’17. “The game plan was to play our style and not let the crowd affect us.”
These words seemed to accurately describe the Flyers’ first half performance. A pair of three-point plays by senior Mike Mcguire ’16 opened up the scoring for the home team and set the tone for the entire offense. Patient playmaking and stifling defense kept the Firebirds in check giving Chaminade a nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Flyers carried their momentum into the second quarter, this time led by the Prendergast brothers. The senior twins combined for 21 points overall—Nolan in the paint and Owen with his outside touch. The defense also continued to hound the opposition, holding Kellenberg to just five points in the quarter.
The Flyers entered the halftime break with a more-than-comfortable 20-point lead and appeared poised to run away with this game against their rival.
The Flyers did not let halftime slow them down and came out of the intermission looking sharp. Seniors Ryan Dean ’16 and Charles Salter ’16 paced the offense, as McGuire continued his hot shooting. Murphy dominated the weak Kellenberg defense in the paint, helping Chaminade maintain a double-digit lead throughout the whole quarter.
However, as with any good rivalry, Kellenberg did not go down without a fight. Led by savvy senior guards Kyle DeVerna and Steve Torre, the Firebirds stormed back into the game, taking advantage of a lackadaisical Flyers defense. Chaminade’s offensive game seemed to crumble, as confused players could not get in rhythm and execute plays properly. DeVerna and Torre, draining three after three, carved away at the deficit.
The visiting team’s supporters roared back to life, as all the Flyers faithful fans could do was watch. A Chaminade victory appeared to be slipping away.
With the lead shaved to five, head coach Mr. Robert Paul ’92 decided to burn a timeout to regroup his team and stop the momentum of the Firebirds; however, Kellenberg did not miss a beat.
Nevertheless, the early lead which Chaminade had built up was simply too large to overcome. A clutch bank-shot three-pointer from sophomore Bobby Connors ’18 gave the Flyers a much needed bucket, and the home crowd let out a collective sigh of relief.
“I honestly didn’t think the shot was going in at all,” said Connors. “As I saw it bank off the backboard, I was shocked, but also pumped because I knew it was a big shot toward the end of the game.”
After that basket, the Flyers milked the clock and made their free throws down the stretch. Up by three with less than 15 seconds remaining in regulation, the defense stood strong one final time, forcing Torre to miss a contested, off-balance three.
Backed by steady performances and contributions from all players, Chaminade took down the Firebirds with a 67-64 home victory, improving their overall league-leading record to 11-2.
Congrats to the Flyers!
The varsity Flyers take on St. Dominic High School this Friday, January 29 at 7:30 pm in the AAC. Come out and support the Flyers!