By Billy Demos ’23
The Chaminade Flyers Basketball team had eleven players–ten of them seniors–returning to the team following last season’s devastating 51-50 overtime loss to Holy Trinity in the Catholic League Final. Going into this season, they were adamant that they would not suffer the same fate, and they understood that anything other than a championship would be underwhelming. They did not disappoint.
The Flyers had an amazing regular season, finishing with a 23-4 record. It wasn’t easy. On two occasions, the team gave up 100 points, a rare feat in a high school game. Still, only one of their losses was to a league opponent, St. John the Baptist, and as with all their bad breaks, their losses were as much a demonstration of team strength and resilience as any of their wins. In the season’s most concerning episode, returning senior PJ Kellechan ’23 collapsed during a team practice and went into cardiac arrest. Revived by his coaches, PJ went on to recover, returning to the basketball court to ask Coach Daniel Feeney, “Is this going to affect my spot in the rotation?” This experience not only bonded the team even closer but gave them even more motivation to persevere and reach the goal they set for themselves in the beginning of the season.
After asserting their dominance on the court throughout the season and following their victory against Holy Trinity in the semi-finals 71-56, the Flyer once again returned to Hofstra University for the Catholic League Final. This time they would be facing rival St. Anthony’s. In a fierce defensive battle, the Flyers defeated the Friars 43-35, accomplishing the goal they’d set for themselves at the start of the year.. Antoni Vlogianitis ’23, scored 9 points and won the game’s MVP award, while stand-out play by David Debusschere ’23 earned him the Conference Player of the Year award.
Following the game, Joseph Knaus ’24, Chaminade’s leading scorer for the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, said in an interview, ”It feels amazing, I mean there really isn’t any other way to describe it. To avenge my brother after what happened last year, words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now.”
Knaus is referring to his older brother Albert Knaus ’22, who was on the team with Joe last year, sharing in the bitter loss to Holy Trinity. Despite Chaminade winning the Catholic League Final which was a very emotional, yet thrilling experience for the team they were off to Buffalo to face Bishop Timon St. Jude. Unfortunately, after a back and forth contest, the Flyers lost to St. Jude 73-61. But this loss could never define the Flyers season by any means.
Coach Feeney, pleased with the performances of all of his players, spoke passionately not only of their most immediate success, but of their lasting legacy: “The team completed a great season, finishing 23-4 and winning the NSCHSAA title. I have been lucky enough to work with these sixteen young men, and ten seniors, all season. We often talk about leaving something better than you found it. These ten seniors did just that. The program is in a better place because of their contributions both on and off the court the last four years. The six returners and younger guys in the program look to continue to advance the basketball program at Chaminade in the years to come.”
This was an extremely eventful year for the Flyers basketball team as they were able to achieve the success they so desperately wanted all season long. Finally, a huge congratulations to Coach Feeney, Coach Paul, and Coach Ferrara and the varsity basketball team on their Catholic League Final victory.