TAMPA — Once the pomp and circumstance subsided on a night when Chamberlain named its gym in honor of former longtime basketball coach Doug Aplin, there was a game to play.
And up until the final minute of Friday’s game against Class 6A, District 9 rival Jefferson, it appeared the Chiefs would add to Aplin’s legacy with a win.
No such luck for the hard-luck Chiefs (0-2, 0-2), who are still in search of a win after a 67-65 loss to unbeaten Dragons (3-0, 2-0)
Jefferson coach Eric Hayes did not exactly feel bad for spoiling the outcome for Aplin, a 1972 Chamberlain graduate and 1,000-point scorer who coached his alma mater to 512 games in 31 seasons.
“I played against coach Aplin. He was a great coach, a great man,” said Hayes, a 1993 Tampa Catholic graduate. “I hate to be the one to spoil his night, but at the same time I think he understands.”
Chamberlain led for most of the game, but Jefferson tied it at 64 on a Cameron Padgett layup with 1:25 left. Padgett then made one of two free throws to give the Dragons their first lead since they began the game with a 5-2 run.
An inbound pass by the Chiefs with 11 seconds left bounced off Ronald Blount’s knee for a turnover and Shaquille Mandy hit two free throws to clinch it. Dereck Boulden missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
Chamberlain built two 10-point leads, but Jefferson rallied to make it close each time. The Chiefs had four leads of two points in the fourth quarter, but could not pull away.
Mandy and Blount led their teams with 19 points each. Chamberlain’s Rashawn Fredericks added 18 and teammate Mike Dileo 10.