Chaney tops Fitch, 66-33
AUSTINTOWN — Blocks off the glass, high-flying dunks, and turnovers flipped into points. When there’s a stout defense with the press, offense comes easy.
For a younger Chaney Cowboys roster that is without the likes of Sharrod Taylor, Quincy Jones, and Cam Lawrence, finding ways to force their opposition into miscues is going to be a key ingredient to success.
Chaney had a taste of that success Friday evening, opening their season with a 66-33 victory on the road over the Austintown Fitch Falcons.
With ten different players finding their way into the scorer’s book — senior Isiah Williams led the charge with 13 points — balanced scoring and steals became the key heading into their season.
“It’s our first night out, we were a little stagnant on offense, but we pressure teams, make them turn the ball over,” Cowboys coach Marlon McGaughy said. “We’re deep, so we kinda wear teams down, we put so much pressure, we wear them down at the end.
“The only thing is that when you pressure teams, you foul a lot, so I think they probably had maybe 15 free throws, things like that.”
Chaney junior Josiah Gonzalez scored the first bucket of the season for his team on a layup, starting a 7-2 run that was capped off by a jumper off the fingers of D’Juan Waller.
Fitch would soon knot the contest up at seven points a piece, but a pair of free throws from sophomore Cameron Sly would provide his team with the lead for good.
Leading 15-8 following the first quarter, Chaney (1-0) would outscore Fitch 18-5 in the second frame, with the only Austintown field goal of the quarter made by sophomore DeShawn Vaughn Jr.
Holding a 33-13 lead heading into the locker room, the Cowboys weren’t just playing for themselves, but for their friends and family. Due to a COVID-19 shutdown, the Cowboys missed part of their schedule last season, not playing their first game until December 30th versus Brush.
With a very limited number of fans allowed at home games last season, the Cowboys had the opportunity to strut their stuff in front of a sizable crowd, something that only pumps them up on the court.
Dunking is fun, dunking in front of fans? It’s euphoric.
“It definitely is, it feels good when you see the crowd hyping you up and everything, it makes you more hype,” senior Davinci McDowell, who tallied ten points, said. “When you do something hype, then the whole arena is hype, and then you get more hype, and you want to do even more things.
“(The win) shows us how much potential we got, and we keep going if we get more practice, so I think we’ll have a good season.”
For other seniors like Williams, being able to lead a younger team is going to be key after a weird slate last winter.
“It’s not even about the season, it’s about the fans,” Williams said. “We had to cheer ourselves on, this year with the fans, it’s love.
“Just the energy, it’s different, we love to go out there and show them.”
Sly ended with eight, Gonzales pitched in seven.
Meanwhile, for Fitch, it’s hard to prepare against a team with such a size advantage on the court. For Brian Beany and his team, Friday night was just one game, and something to reflect and build upon, especially after graduating star Todd Simons.
“Every guy in the locker room has the ability to score in double-digits, everyone of those guys, tonight it was just very hard to do because we didn’t get the looks that we needed and their traps hurt us over half court,” Beany said. “It’s very easy to say you got to do this, this, and this, yeah, until you get your butt on the floor and you see what’s happening, it’s difficult.
“We knew exactly what was coming, there wasn’t one thing they did that surprised us, with the exception of, you can’t simulate the size, you can’t do it, but something surprised us as to what they did, their size, it’s a huge x-factor.”
Fitch (0-1) was led by senior Allen Underwood who had nine, junior Gianni Maley followed behind with six.