Madison Knicely
The relentless Darren Knicely (27 points, 11 rebounds) was unstoppable for Madison Wednesday night.

Concorde Semifinals: Knicely scores 27 as Madison advances past Chantilly, 61-52

Senior center Darren Knicely scored 27 points as the Madison Warhawks pulled away to defeat Chantilly, 61-52 in the Semifinals of the Concorde District Tournament Wednesday.

The Warhawks, typically a postseason threat, had a losing record a month ago. Now they’ve won five of six, their only loss coming to top-seeded South Lakes, their opponent in the district title game Friday. Even in their most recent loss to the Seahawks, who finished undefeated in the district, the second-seeded Warhawks were tied late in the game.

Madison Coach Kevin Roller’s team is rounding into top form just in the nick of time.

“We didn’t have three starters until the middle of December,” said Roller when asked why his team has found success in the last two weeks. “{Senior guard] Steven Cruz, who was out two months getting into shape, and really just continuing to get more and more comfortable with what we’re doing…it’s a growing comfort level with what we’re doing, and so it’s a credit to them [the players].”

Steven Cruz (10 points) and the Warhawks continue to get stronger as the season continues.

Knicely was one of the starters Roller was referring to that came to the team late in December. That was because he played on the Warhawks’ successful football team. His relentless, physical nature paid off Tuesday, as he battered the Chargers down low. Knicely had 11 rebounds to go with his 27 points, and impressed his coach with something else as Chantilly attempted a furious comeback late.

“It’s not every day your center, who is the fifth-best free throw shooter on the floor, steps up and keeps making free throws down the stretch,” said Roller of Knicely, who made 7-10 free throws in the second half.

The Warhawks needed everything they got against third-seeded Chantilly on this night. The Chargers have also been playing well and can get hot in a hurry, especially from outside. That’s what happened in the second quarter, as Ved Desai led a charge to erase an early 10-point Charger deficit and tie the game at 26 at half. At the break, both Desai and Knicely had 10 points apiece.

In the second half Desai was not a factor, however, while Knicely and the Madison offense continued to hum. The Warhawks (13-10) mixed in a couple of timely three-pointers with Knicely’s inside play and gradually pulled ahead, eventually extending their lead back to double digits midway through the fourth quarter.

The Warhawks’ offense was extremely efficient, as they shot 54% on the evening from the field and registered assists on most of their made shots. Senior guard Sammy Frueh had a great all-around game with 11 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Cruz added 10 points. Junior center Michael Dinkelacker, who started in December before the football guys arrived, had a very solid game off the bench with eight points and three assists.

Kevin Roller says Michael Dinkelacker (eight points) plays a huge role for his team off the bench.

“They shot the ball real well in the first half and we made just enough mental errors, that kept them there,” said Roller. “I thought Chantilly played pretty darn well. In the second half they kept making threes, but we got rid of some of mistakes we made, some of the lazy turnovers, and pulled it out.”

Chantilly (12-12) senior guards Ivan So and Amare Elshoush led the way for the Chargers with 11 points apiece, 17 of those combined points coming in the second half. Chantilly’s season is not over, as they, like Madison, will compete in the Northern Region Tournament next week.

–Chris Jollay

all statistics are unofficial

FURLONG 2-5 0-2  5  1  3
BAKER 0-1 0-0  0  4  0
KNICELY 10-14 7-11  27  11  1
CRUZ 2-6 4-4  10  0  2
FRUEH 3-8 4-4  11  8  4
Franklin 0-0 0-0  0  1  1
Dinkelacker 4-5 0-0  8  2  3
Fiel 0-0 0-2  0  2  2
TOTALS 21-39 15-23  61  29  16
Threes: Cruz-Zavala 2-6, Furlong 1-1, Frueh 1-4, Baker 0-1
SO 4-6 0-0  11  2   2
ELSHOUSH 5-8 0-0  11  0   1
DAVENPORT 0-5 0-0  0  0   3
VED DESAI 4-8 0-0  10  5   1
SWINDELL 4-7 0-0  10  4   2
O’Rourke 0-4 3-5  3  0   1
Dougherty 0-0 0-0  0  1   0
Vivaan Desai 2-7 3-5  7  0   2
TOTALS 19-45 6-10  52  12  12
Threes: So 3-5, Ved Desai 2-4, Swindell 2-4, Elshoush 1-3, O’Rourke 0-3, Davenport 0-4,