Boys Basketball Finishes Record Season

After a record-breaking year, the boys basketball season comes to a close as of March 5 against Dunbar in the Regional championship.

“The kids have worked really hard,” head varsity basketball coach Clifford McGuire said.

The boys earned their place in the Elite Eight and can walk away region finalists. The key to their success: Teamwork.

“That’s part of a season,” McGuire said. “That’s part of a team: coming together. It takes time to gel and come together and everyone to figure out their role.”

No team is good without a leader, though.

“Coaching is a big factor in it,” freshman point guard Ty Caswell said. “When you have coaches who scout out the other teams, that really helps us out. Knowing what we are about to go up against and who’s good on the other team and what their strengths are helps.”

Besides coaches, the team was clear there was a leading player. TJ Vasher, the lone senior who lasted the season and played varsity all four years, made his mark on the court and in the awards after. Vasher earned the title “Most Valuable Player” and received an ovation from the crowd at the region final, despite Rider’s loss.

Along with Vasher, who holds the campus 3-pointer record in a single game with 10, Conner Chamberlain also led the team.

“I like to see myself as a good leader,” Chamberlain said, “A moral leader. I keep everyone under control. If they start getting angry or anything, I just calm them down. Also, if people are messing around in practice, I get them to stop and get them to focus.”

Looking past the spotlight, other individuals contributed to the game, on the court and off.

“We have some people who don’t get in the game a whole lot,” Chamberlain said, “But they’re always cheering us on and coming up with new cheers on the bench or rebounding for us and helping us out and getting us in a good situation where we can win. Most people don’t really see that. They do behind-the-scenes stuff that really help out the team.”

But helping out the team isn’t every player’s sole focus. In fact, a lot of them have dreams of their own for after school.

“I’m looking to go play college somewhere,” Chamberlain said. “I just want to have fun playing.”

Players say a key element made a huge difference this season.

“With this team confidence is huge,” Vasher said. “Because a lot of them wear their hearts on their sleeves. So, keeping them upbeat and confident in themselves was vital to this team.”

Other players agree.

“It’s huge, especially for a shooter,” Chamberlain said. “If you don’t have confidence that it’s going to go in, it’s not going to go in. You have to think it’s going in and shoot it and just go.”

Players said the crowd’s support at their games definitely helped them as they made their way through this season.

“It’s kind of hard to get motivated if there’s no one there to watch,” Chamberlain said. “It helps you have a lot more confidence. Some people might think it makes you more nervous, but I really feel more confident having more people there to go out there and do what I do.”

The team took that confidence and turned it into victories until the end with a final score of 62 to 95.
“There’s always things we can do better, but winning’s winning,” McGuire said. “Whether you win by one or ten or twenty, it’s moving to the next round. Your goal is to go one and 0 and move on to the next one.”