Boys basketball: Chamberlain 61, Hillsborough 46
TAMPA – Chamberlain coach Chris Snyder knows that chemistry is one of those elusive elements that can make or break a basketball team.
The Chiefs did not have it last season. There was bickering that led to inconsistent play. The result was a second straight losing season.
Chemistry does not just happen. But Snyder did everything in his power to create it. He made players more accountable, more mentally tough. Those who could not take it either stopped showing up or were cut in tryouts.
This addition by subtraction has made all the difference. Playing as a more cohesive unit, Chamberlain beat rival Hillsborough 61-46 Friday night to remain undefeated (6-0) and take over sole possession of first place in Class 7A, District 7.
“The difference is this group can communicate as a team,” Snyder said. “I can talk to them without them and they can take criticism. It’s just a group that has never wavered.”
Trailing 15-9 early in the second quarter, the Chiefs chipped away at the lead thanks to the long-range shooting of Reggie Lowe. The senior guard hit five 3-pointers, four in the first half, to help Chamberlain cut it to 25-24 at halftime.
His final 3-pointer at the start of the third quarter gave Chamberlain a lead it never relinquished in the second half. His scoring was not just limited faraway shots. He also hit a layup on acrobatic play in the third quarter. Stumbling through traffic, Lowe was about to fall when he though the ball up against the glass as it banked in.
“I was surprised I even made that shot,” said Lowe, who finished with 19 points.
Equally surprising for Lowe and his teammates is their perfect start.
“I didn’t really know if we could be this good this early,” Lowe said. “But I was one of the seniors on this team and I knew we had to step up and make our final season count.”
This was just the Chiefs third win by double digits this season.
“We had a shot to be pretty good,” Syder said. “For these guys, there was no pressure. We were flying under the radar.”
That might not be the case anymore.