Chaney tops Fitch despite flu-bug woes

By John Bassetti


As much as no driver wants today’s blinding oncoming-car headlights in their eyes while behind the wheel, no coach wants to be without his top player for a game.

In a sense, both the Chaney and Fitch coaches had to shield their eyes when filling out the starting lineups Tuesday night for a game that the home-court Cowboys won, 57-44.

Chaney’s top scorer, senior Marquel Gillespie, had the flu and Fitch’s A.J. Green hobbled around the Chaney gym on crutches as he accompanied his teammates — something he’s done following surgery late last month for an ACL tear he suffered 20 seconds into the season-opener on Nov. 30.

In Gillespie’s place, sophomore Sharrod Taylor scored 17 points, while Fitch has had no real replacement — point-wise or otherwise — for Green.

Besides Taylor, others, such as Cam Lawrence (9 points), Will Brown (8), Quincy Jones (6), as well as Jamison Tubbs and Jamelin Love (6 apiece), picked up the slack for the Cowboys (15-5).

“We can handle our own,” Taylor said of Lawrence, Brown, Jones, Tubbs and Love, as well as subs Clavon Morgan and Ryan Clark. “There is no ‘B’ team,” said Taylor who made 5 of 7 goals from 3-point range.

For the game, Chaney was 22 of 44 from the field, including 8 of 13 threes. Fitch (4-14) made 19 of 50 field goals, although just one of 10 was a 3-pointer.

“We’re a couple players down, so we’re trying to contain it,” Chaney coach Marlon McGaughy said of the flu’s toll on his Cowboys. “I don’t know when he [Gillespie] will be back and we really missed him tonight. We’ve been playing together all season, so when you miss one piece to the puzzle, it kind of lets you down a bit. He [Gillespie] is our go-getter. He does everything for us.”

McGaughy didn’t bite on the suggestion that Chaney may have felt in control and able to insert subs when the Cowboys had a 22-point lead (53-31) after three quarters.

“I’ve been stressing all week that, no matter Fitch being down without their big guy [Green], they’re scrappy. I told them that we can’t look over this game. I think we looked it over a little bit tonight. They were scrappy, so coach [Fitch coach Brian Beany] should be proud of those kids.”

In Fitch’s season-opener against Chaney, it not only lost Green, but the Falcons lost the game, 86-57.

Chaney plays at East on Saturday, then plays East again at Chaney on Feb. 26 in the Division II tournament opener. The Cowboys are the No. 3 seed and have already beaten East twice this season.

In Gillespie’s absence, Fitch recognized that the Cowboys would put a bigger lineup on the court.

“They went bigger, with the other big guy [Quincy Jones] starting, which, in a way, kind of helped us out matchup-wise,” Beany said. “That kind of made our matchups a little better, because, most of the time, they go with a four-guard lineup with No. 23 [Will Brown] in there. As all season has been, we give ourselves good opportunities to score, but were unable to convert on some of those. Against a team like Chaney, you’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities when they arise; we just didn’t do that enough.”

Beany said that Fitch’s 20 turnovers were a blend of forced and unforced ones.

“You can practice for it all you want, but it’s hard to simulate their speed, but a lot of it was kind of self-inflicted. Some of those turnovers were because of them and some were because of us trying to force things that weren’t there. But that’s what a press does – it tries to speed you up a little bit and get you out of position. I don’t think it was a game-changer. The game-changer was, when we had opportunities to score, we failed to do so enough to win; when they had opportunities to score, they converted at a pretty good rate.”

Sophomore Todd Simons paced Fitch with 10 points and eight rebounds.