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Former trio sets standard for Chaney’s run

Cowboys will take on St. Vincent-St. Mary tonight at the Canton Memorial Civic Center

Staff file photo / Greg Macafee Chaney’s Josiah Gonzalez goes up for a layup agianst Poland on Saturday in the district finals.

YOUNGSTOWN — When Chaney’s sports programs returned in 2018 after an eight-year absence, three players helped the Cowboys’ boys basketball team to compete and be successful right away.

Quincy Jones, Cam Lawrence and Sharrod Taylor each helped lead Chaney to a district final appearance in the program’s first season back and then proceeded to win district titles each of the next two seasons.

That trio may have graduated last year, but they set the precedent and helped lay the foundation for the success that this season’s Cowboys squad has continued by winning its third straight district title and making its third straight regional appearance since the program returned four years ago.

“We had a lot of kids who went to the Catholic schools, but when we came back and started to build the program, they actually came back into the program,” said head coach Marlon McGaughy. “They passed down our traditions to the other kids, so we didn’t miss a beat. We did everything the same…A lot of these kids emulate them, so they understand what’s going on. They want to be just like them.”

Current Chaney senior Isaiah Williams said Lawrence taught him how to be a better point guard, and added that Jones taught him how to help get the ball to his big men in the paint and “get them more involved.”

“They all left us with a high standard to meet,” said junior Josiah Gonzalez. “They went to districts each year they were here, so we’ve tried to keep that going. They all told us to come in here and work as hard as we can every game and every day.”

Chaney’s matchup in Thursday night’s Division II Canton regional semifinal is a familiar foe — a team that the Cowboys played earlier this season — one of the top teams in the state, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Each year they’ve made it to the regional round, the Cowboys have been unable to get past the semifinals. In 2020, Chaney was supposed to face the Irish in the regional semifinal, but the rest of the playoffs were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, last year, the Cowboys fell to Gates Mills Gilmour Academy in the regional semi.

Chaney has loftier goals, however.

“(Winning districts) feels good, but that’s not our main goal,” Gonzalez said. “Our main goal is obviously states so we can’t be satisfied with just districts.”

The Cowboys have a tall task in front of them as they prepare to face the defending Division II state champions, and they know that firsthand having succumbed to the Irish 74-53 way back on Dec. 14.

But, that matchup was early in the season, and the Cowboys have grown since then.

“We’ve gotten a little more experienced along the way,” McGaughy said.

Both teams will want to play fast and up-tempo — getting out in transition to use their speed and athleticism. It’s just a matter of who can limit mistakes, turnovers and missed shots while trying to play at that pace.

“We’ve got to make shots,” McGaughy said. “Last time we missed a lot of shots and they made shots. They came out and hit probably four or five threes in the second half and pushed the lead to like 15, so we’ve got to play hard-nosed defense. We have to rebound and make shots.”

Tip off is Thursday at 6 p.m. with the winner advancing to the regional final to face the winner of Louisville and Cleveland Glenville.

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