Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chaminade's Talented Senior Class Gets Last Shot at State Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chaminade's Talented Senior Class Gets Last Shot at State Title

Article excerpt

CREVE COEUR * Chaminade's hopes of a state basketball championship imploded 363 days ago.

Not quite a full year, but it's felt like 10 for those who experienced last season's state semifinal loss.

"It's been a long year to get back to this point," Chaminade coach Frank Bennett said.

Added senior forward Isaac Olson, "It feels like forever."

The road has been winding and marked with potholes. But here the Red Devils are, once again, two wins away from the program's second state championship.

The No. 1 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com rankings, Chaminade (25-5) faces Metro Catholic Conference rival and No. 6 LS St. Louis U. High (20-9) in a Class 5 semifinal at 6:50 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena.

From the first day this senior class took over the varsity roster as freshmen, Chaminade and its fans dreamed of hanging multiple banners from its rafters. Star wing Jayson Tatum and post Will Gladson started as freshmen. Power forward Tyler Cook and shooting guard Mike Lewis began to make their impact as sophomores. All four are signed to Division I programs, all four been in the starting lineup since Gladson returned from a knee injury sustained early in his sophomore campaign. Tatum is the first four-time MCC player of the year.

Even with this immense amount of talent, the Red Devils have yet to grab that elusive ring.

They lost to Jackson 60-59 in the 2013 sectional after holding a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. In 2014, Ladue and phenomenal point guard Cornell Johnston stunned the state with a 61-58 win in the district title game. Last year, Park Hill South rallied past the Red Devils to steal a 53-50 victory in the semifinals.

Each time Chaminade's season ended without a title, the pressure increased bit by bit on the players. Whether they like it or not, it's there.

"We want to leave our mark," Olson said. "If we don't win this time, we could go down as one of the best teams to not win a state championship."

The remaining survivors in the Class 5 field make this one of the strongest final fours in recent memory. …

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