Things were going well for Chantilly early on the road Tuesday night against Annandale. The Chargers had forged to a 14-6 lead, so coach Jim Smith figured it was a good time to try and spell Christian Parana and a couple of his starters. The Atoms promptly went on an 8-0 run to close the quarter.
Then early in the second quarter Parana picked up his second foul. This time around the bench played with more composure as the Chargers went on a 12-0 run to establish a lead they would never relinquish. Starters Kendall McHugh and Jon Tammaro also stepped up their games, combining for 40 points as the Chargers defeated the Atoms, 66-56.
“We have some young guys who haven’t played much varsity basketball,” Coach Smith said after the game. “Sometimes what that means is that when you go to the bench it may not look to pretty, but sometimes you bear a little fruit from it as well.”
One guy who has played a lot of varsity basketball despite only being a junior is McHugh. A starter since he was a freshman, McHugh is being asked to score more this season after deferring more to older players his first two years. He did just that on Tuesday, scoring 21 points by getting to the line 14 times. Capable of running the point, McHugh now serves almost as an off-the-point floor general. On this evening he would handle the ball, but also receive it in the frontcourt and calmly absorb contact from the Atoms’ trapping defense instead of turning it over.
Chantilly (6-2) was so effective getting it through Annandale’s trapping that Atoms coach Deidrich Gilreath had to pull it back early in the second half. Smith has the luxury of having multiple guards who can handle the ball in his rotation, and they consistently got the ball through the pressure for point-blank looks at the rim. Tammaro was often the beneficiary of this, receiving passes down low from the guards and from junior forward Avery Hinz (five assists) in the high post.
Down 36-24 to start the second half, the Atoms did make it interesting after Gilreath’s adjustments and some better defense. But every time Annandale got close, the Chargers answered. After an 8-2 Annandale run to start the third quarter, Parana found McHugh open for a three-pointer. After Atoms junior guard Junior Lotongo dished to Matthew McKiver for a three to get the Atoms to within 54-49 in the fourth, Chargers guard Derek Smith willed in a three-pointer from the corner to answer immediately. Then late the Chargers executed an effective four corners to run clock. The Atoms had no choice but to repeatedly foul, and their fate was sealed.
Even with the loss, one can easily still see the makings of something impressive building at Annandale (6-3). Lotongo led with 17 points, becoming far more assertive after halftime looking for his shot. Gilreath also got a nice performance off the bench from junior guard Alejandro Casquino, who drilled four threes. The Annandale bench in general had a nice game, with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Chantilly’s bench may have only contributed a single point but fact is it played with composure after the first quarter, controlled the ball, and helped weather some Parana and Tammaro foul trouble. Tammaro finished with 19 points and seven boards to supplement McHugh, while Hinz had a fantastic all-around game with 10 points, nine rebounds and the five assists. Coach Smith is thrilled with his team’s 6-2 start, although he knows there’s a lot of work to be done.
“I didn’t know this year if we’d be 2-6 right now, or whatever, but I’m proud of our start,” Smith said. “We play a really tough schedule, so we have to keep working to get better. Christian and Kendall kind of have to be our rudder, but I think we’ll get better as some of the younger kids continue to develop.”
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Smith 2-4, McHugh 2-5, Dux 0-1, Parana 0-2|
|Threes: Casquino 4-6, Kanu 2-3, McKiver 2-4, Lotongo 2-6, Abdalla 0-1|