Clayton Garrison has been counting down the days until he could be part of the Chadwick-Sparta rivalry for about as long he can remember.
Now, the Chadwick freshman phenom gets to be part of two Chadwick-Sparta contests in less than a week. The Cardinals play host to the Trojans tonight, after the teams met Saturday in the third-place game at the Strafford Tournament.
Sparta won the teams’ first meeting 37-27.
“It’s crazy now that I’m here, I can’t believe it,” Garrison said. “I’ve been watching Chadwick games since I was in the fifth grade. I’ve been getting ready for this.”
Garrison and the Cardinals are off to a 2-2 start, after going 24-4 and winning a Class 1 District 4 championship, to go along with tournament titles at Fordland, Seymour and Spokane, last season.
Coach Shawn Guerin has experienced players in guards Garrett Gardner and Garrett Guerin.
“We like this group,” Shawn Guerin said. “We have some young guys who really want to play. They will need to step up and play well. It may be a tough year to start with. But hopefully we get to where we want to be. I'm optimistic. I think we will be okay. These kids expect to win.”
The Cardinals are employing the same frenetic pace at both ends of the court that drove their success last season.
“The system does not change,” Guerin said. “We coach a system here, not a team. They’re expected to do what they have done the last three or four years. With our style of defense, we will want to keep pressure on people to give ourselves a chance.
“We have some speed,” he added. “We're probably going to be faster than we were last season. I know that can be hard to believe because we were fast last year.”
Garrison and Gardner are being counted as Chadwick’s go-to guys offensively.
“The Garrison kid can play. He's going to be someone people have to deal with for the next four years,” Guerin said. “He can do a lot of things. He can score and his defense is really good if you stay after him. Gardner has got a big role to fill. He can be a 15-20 points per guy. I think Garrison can be, too.”