By Andrew Priolo ’22
Having defeated the St. Anthony’s Friars in the semi-final game, Chaminade High School’s JV basketball team advanced to the championship to face an undefeated Holy Trinity High School. Two days later, on Sunday, February 13th, the squad was crowned champions after defeating the Titans by a score of 60-46.
In spite of their great success, the Flyers did not have a smooth journey to the championship. In the previous two meetings between the Titans and Flyers, Holy Trinity had been twice victorious in one-possession games that wound down to the buzzer. Chaminade’s inability to close out both games was their greatest weakness.
Sophomore forward Austin Priolo ‘24 recalls, “After our second loss to Trinity, we were humbled. To win the championship meant that we would have to beat them in the playoffs. So we put our heads down and prepared.”
These preparations were fiercely spearheaded by Coach Mike McGuire ‘16. McGuire spent countless hours watching film and drawing up plays that would create better shots for the
Flyers. Additionally, McGuire had the team meticulously study Holy Trinity’s style of play in order to best understand their opponent. In the end those preparations paid off, as Chaminade was able to put together one of their strongest performances of the season in the game that mattered most.
Winning the JV championship became the team’s paramount goal after they won last season’s title game. And not only was the competition fierce, but lingering COVID-19 concerns threatened to thwart the team’s plans of playing a full season.
When asked how ecstatic he was to play a full season for the first time at Chaminade, forward Justin Akiki ‘24 commented, “It was like a dream come true. To complete the dream, we had to win the championship. We fulfilled that dream.”
These dreams of victory were turned into reality thanks to the team’s passion and resilience throughout the course of the season. Led by astounding play from three-sport athlete Jack Connolly ‘24, as well as exceptional shooting from guards Peter DeBusschere ‘24 and Cameron Elliot ‘24, Chaminade was able to finish the regular season with remarkable success.
Connolly reflected, “I knew we were going to be a very good group from the start, especially given the talent we had. Playing with this group was the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball. With our only two losses being to Holy Trinity, our focus throughout the season was to get another opportunity to play them. Being able to beat them in the championship was the perfect way to end the season and meant a lot to all of us.”
Aside from their two losses against Holy Trinity, the Flyers were undefeated, tallying up wins against league opponents St. Anthony’s High School, St. John the Baptist High School, Kellenberg Memorial High School, and St. Dominic’s High School.
With eyes set on the championship, defeating the Holy Trinity Titans was the last obstacle to overcome. After the first quarter, Chaminade clung to a two-point lead; at halftime, the lead increased to six points. Most importantly, the Flyers were able to close out the game in dominating fashion by ending the fourth quarter on a 17-9 run, largely due to clutch defensive plays by DeBusschere and three-pointers made by Elliot.
Following their victory, the Flyers were filled with emotion. Guard Julian Dewitte ‘24 was overcome by feelings of pure joy and some sadness.
Dewitte described his mixed emotions, stating, “One of the toughest moments to take in was that it would be the last time we all played basketball together as a group. Spending the last
four months with these guys created so many friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. Realizing it would be over, in that moment, there was nothing to do but cherish it and celebrate with the guys.”
In a tumultuous season marked by ups and downs, questions and complaints, gritty wins and tough losses, the JV basketball Flyers ultimately demonstrated their excellence by securing the championship plaque—adding to the vast collection of plaques that line the hallways at Chaminade.