Photo by Colin MurphyJoe Seidler and Cameron Christian fought for position during the Cougars' victory over the Eagles on February 10.
Chesapeake Boys Win Rivalry Rematch On Senior Night
On records alone, the Chesapeake boys basketball team could have been considered the underdog when it hosted rival Northeast on February 10. The Cougars, sitting on three wins, faced a challenge against a nine-win Eagle team that had won the teams’ prior meeting 53-40 at Northeast on January 13.
Of course, records rarely matter when it comes to the Chesapeake-Northeast rivalry.
This time around, the Cougars delivered a gritty and inspired defensive performance and got scoring and rebounding contributions from throughout the lineup to grind out a 57-49 win on senior night over their rival Eagles.
Blake Rebstock led all scorers with 16 points and also had seven rebounds and two steals, while Matt Kern had 11 points and seven rebounds and Joe Seidler had nine points and 10 rebounds as the Cougars notched the all-important rivalry win.
Despite a less than stellar won-loss tally on the season, Chesapeake head coach Shawn Rebstock has seen his team be competitive in close games against good teams all year, including narrow losses to Old Mill, Glen Burnie, Arundel and Meade.
At home on senior night against Northeast, the Cougars simply wouldn’t be denied.
“I know the kids get into the Northeast-Chesapeake game, we all do, but for them, not just the seniors, all of them have played so hard all year long,” said Rebstock. “When you’re dealing with teenagers and losses, at a certain point they get frustrated, and you can expect them to pack it in, and they never did. They worked harder than they ever had. Had a tough loss to Arundel Tuesday night, and they bounce back tonight, and I am just so proud of the kids.”
The Friday-night game was a crowd-pleaser from the opening tip. Chesapeake’s Dillon Oxyer’s 3-pointer opened the scoring, and Rebstock intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for an and-1 to put the Cougars up 6-0 right away, to the delight of Chesapeake’s student section.
Baskets by Northeast’s Anthony Stewart and Trey Fair and a 3-pointer by Josh Cain drew Northeast level at 8-8, and Stewart temporarily dampened the home-court energy with four blocked shots in the first half and a team-high 14 points for the game. Northeast senior point guard Troy McNeil, who finished with eight points, assisted Fair’s basket in the first quarter for his 143rd of the season, a new school single-season mark, surpassing Gene Pleyo’s 1992 record.
A San Antonio Spurs-esque touch-pass sequence of McNeill to Stewart to Jacoby Rojas to Cameron Christian for a baseline layup drew Northeast to within two points at 20-18, but offensive highlights were otherwise few for Northeast in the first half as Chesapeake’s intense defense dictated the pace of play. Oxyer’s 3-pointer before halftime gave Chesapeake a 23-18 lead at the break.
Coach Rebstock said his team’s defensive pressure and disciplined rebounding was key.
“Our defense the majority of the time is very good,” he said. “We get teams to play our game, in the 50s. They did a great job again tonight with the defense, a phenomenal job on the boards. You see our team. We’re undersized, but they play bigger than they are. Matt Kern, Joe Seidler, Eb Hagan, Blake Rebstock – they just do a phenomenal job on the boards.” Hagan had eight rebounds for Chesapeake to go with six points.
McNeill dished to Brennen Volkman for a bucket to open the second — Volkman finished with 13 points for Northeast — and the Eagles climbed ahead 32-31 on a 3-pointer by Stewart.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Alex Zucnkick hit a jumper, and Rebstock a layup to close the third quarter with Chesapeake up 35-33.
The Cougars kept the Eagles at arm’s length in the fourth, getting nice play from Trace Carleton, Kern, Russell Tongue and Dylan Young to stave off Northeast’s comeback attempts. Carleton hit a cutting Rebstock on the baseline for a nice layup that gave the team a 43-34 lead and also shot 5 for 5 from the line in the fourth quarter. As a team, Chesapeake closed out the win by sinking 11 of 15 free throws in the final frame.
Noting the contributions from everyone on the team and the improved free-throw shooting down the stretch, coach Rebstock added, “It’s great night. A good team win, and I’m really happy for the boys.”
Oxyer described the win as a complete effort, and it was satisfying to see hard work finally pay dividends in a tight game.
“We played as a team,” he said. “We’ve been preaching all year, we need to play a complete game, and that’s what we did, and that’s why we won. We played together as a team for 32 minutes … Our confidence level just got boosted exponentially.”
Blake Rebstock, a receiver for Chesapeake’s football team, said that after Northeast’s win in the ‘Dena Bowl this fall and the previous basketball matchup, the Cougars badly wanted this one.
“I’ve been up for this game for awhile,” he said. “After football, and then the first time we played them this season, Chesapeake owed them tonight.”
He added that the team’s pesky defense can make for a hellish night for any opponent, and playoff foes would be wise to take the Cougars seriously despite their overall record of 4-16.
“We’ve been struggling, but hopefully we can string something together for the playoffs, and you never know, we might see [Northeast] again,” said Rebstock. “You never know what’s going to happen come playoff time.”