The Chardon Crazies ready for a new basketball season, the team was up-ended by a Rebels' defense that allowed 8 first-half points.
Doug Snyder learned a long time ago that it’s never as good as it seems. It’s also never as bad as it seems.
After a 20-point win over Geneva to open the season, Chardon’s Hilltoppers struggled against an athletic South team in its home opener.
With just eight first-half points, the ‘Toppers struggled to break the press and struggled to get good shots, losing 57-32.
“Give credit to South — they put on a defensive clinic tonight,” said Snyder, the team’s head coach.”They flat-out outplayed us. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other team.”
The Hilltoppers had a positive outlook in camp after a 2-19 season a year ago.
Behind seniors Andrew Gray, Jason Janda, Joe Fodor and Zach Weiland and junior Riley Thompson — the team’s starters — there is plenty of talent to go around.
“I think it was our first game at home, and a lot of us were nervous,” Weiland said after the game. “We need to pick up the intensity earlier.”
“We were a little flat to start,” added Janda. “It was just a rough start. Riley, Joe (Connick) and I just have to settle down when we’re up top.”
Connick was Chardon’s best weapon against the man-to-man press, taking his defender off the dribble and delivering the ball safely into the front court.
He thought the key to breaking the press was slowing things down.
“Everyone saw it,” he said. “We got into too big of a hole. You know, Geneva we had a great game, but we have to forget that. I think we came in thinking we were 1-0, and that we were a better team than this team.
“We have to come in and fight every game. And we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Chardon Crazies student section was boiling over all night; students dressed in black and stood for the full 32 minutes. The section stayed strong despite the lopsided score.
“This place is not fun to come into if you’re an opponent,” Snyder said. “They are always supportive, and I hope they know we’re a little better than we showed tonight. And I hope they come back out. It’s about these kids.”
Each player interviewed after the game echoed those sentiments.
“It’s better than when there’s nobody there,” Weiland said. “It gets you pumped up.”
“They were great,” said Janda. “I hope they stay coming out.”
“I’m hoping they come back,” said Thompson. “It was a lot more than I was expecting. Surprised they stayed the whole game.”
Added Drew McCartney, “They’re great. I love the students here. They definitely pick us up.”
Chardon fell behind 21-6 early and trailed 25-8 at the half. But in the second half, the ‘Toppers won the third quarter 14-12 on six straight points from Weiland, a 6-4 forward who can do many things well.
Two 3-pointers, from sophomore Cooper Snyder and Connick — a bank shot that he smiled after — made the score 35-20.
“We challenged them at halftime,” said Snyder. “Our problem was it took us two quarters to adjust to their intensity. By the time we did, we found ourselves in a huge hole. We need to come out and be ready to play, and I’ll take responsibility for that.”
Weiland led Chardon with 10 points; Fodor added eight points and 10 rebounds; Connick and Janda each had four.
South’s Zach Lapuh led the Rebels with 16 points and eight rebounds. Braun Hartfield added eight points.
Chardon turned the ball over 26 times against the suffocating South defense.
A few players thought the team needed to do better in practice if they were to perform better in games.
“Our practices are showing,” Thompson said. “Like, we’re not going hard enough in practice.”
Juniors Carsten Schumaker and Nick Mysyk joined seniors Trevor Miducki and Kyle Spear on the court in the fourth quarter.
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