By John Hance ’17
Any game against a rival brings out an unmatched intensity in athletes. While they seek to perform at their best throughout the entire season, competitors can often tap into that “next level” ability to defeat longtime enemies and maintain both bragging rights and league standing.
The Flyers varsity basketball team, fueled by a rivalry matchup, managed to win a tough road game against the St. Anthony’s Friars on Friday, January 20.
Last season, Chaminade won the regular season league title and seemed to be well on its way to a repeat of its prior NSCHSAA championship. But when handed a 73-54 upset loss in the Flyer-Friar postseason meeting, Chaminade’s season came to an early end. The Flyers had this additional motivation to beat the Friars, surpassing even the intensity of the pair’s storied rivalry.
While it was too late for the class of 2016, the returning core of players – now seniors – could begin to ease the pain of the loss with a strong showing against the Friars in front of a packed, ravenous St. Anthony’s student section. According to Regan Quinn ’17, the team was “looking for revenge” in this “huge game” as they awaited tipoff. A victory in Huntington would heal those old wounds, but it would also serve to buoy the Flyers in the critical league standings.
The Flyers got off to a dominant start on Friday night, beginning the game with an 11-0 run that set the tone for the rest of the matchup. They were led by Kyle Murphy ’17, a three-year starter who established Chaminade’s control of the game offensively. He finished the game with 23 points on a steady diet of free throws, where he made all 14 of his foul shots. The veteran’s leadership was reflected in the strong first-half play of the young talent of the team, especially that of freshman Michael O’Connell ’20, who was not fazed at all by the big stage, adding nine points and five assists at guard.
The Flyers played tremendous defense, rebounded well, worked as a cohesive unit on offense, and generally outworked the Friars over the first half en route to a 38-21 lead at the break. While the Friars were able to cut the lead to 6 with 4:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, clutch free throws and stout defense helped the team preserve a 71-56 win.
Quinn, a starting guard, commented that he thought the team “did a good job attacking the basket and getting the ball inside rather than just shooting three pointers.” The senior added that he believes the win “will serve as a confidence booster as we go into the second half of league play,” which will resume tomorrow, Friday, January 27 against St. John the Baptist at the Activity-Athletic Center.