Coach Shawn Guerin is proud to compare Chadwick’s current crop of players with the Cardinals teams he ran with during his playing days at his alma mater in the 1990s.
“We were a defensive-minded ball club when I played here,” Guerin said. “We half-court trapped people and worked out butts off. These guys are the same way. They’ve got hearts the size of Texas. There aren’t too many teams around who do what we do. We know our chance to win games is if we can outwork teams and press.
“I played the same way as I coach,” he added. “We never stop coming. We feel if we keep ball-pressure on you for 32 minutes, we’re going to hopefully (force) some mistakes and eventually wear you down.”
Chadwick has remained relentless and continued winning, despite the loss of senior guard Trent Nalley to a broken leg in early December. Nalley joined the Cardinals’ 1,000-point club last season.
Chadwick is 16-5 going into its home contest with defending Class 2 state champion Greenwood and the state's top player, Aminu Mahammed, on Friday. The Cardinals captured the Mark Twain Tournament championship three weeks ago and have won five in a row.
Guerin guided Chadwick to the Class 1 District 4 championship last season. It was the program’s first post-season title since 2011 and first winning season since 2012.
It’s been a happy homecoming for Guerin, whose road to coaching has been atypical. Unlike most of his colleagues, he didn’t graduate from college intent on coaching.
With interests away from basketball, he took a break from the sport.
“Basketball had always been good to to me. But I took a long time off away from the game,” Guerin said. “I like farming, running cattle and I travel quite a bit as a professional rodeo announcer.”
Guerin received what proved to be an overwhelming tug to return to the game he loves when Chadwick’s current sophomores were in the fifth grade. Their passion quickly rubbed off on him, sparking a fire inside of him to give the coaching profession a try.
“I knew five yeas ago we had something special, with the way their work ethic is,” Guerin said. “They worked their butts off. They asked me if I would stick around and help them some more. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to do that.
“I give these guys all the glory,” he added. “They do a great job here every day. I appreciate what they do.”
Just as Guerin has found the Cardinals a perfect for his coaching style, they have responded well to him.
“He’s constantly yelling at us to keep us fired up,” guard Paden Gilbert said. “We are’t the most God-gifted offensive team, so we’ve got to work hard on defense. That’s where our offense is going to come from.”
“He’s a great coach,” guard Garrett Gardner added. “He knows what he’s talking about. He played a lot of ball himself, so he can relate to us as players. He gets us ready to rumble. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else.”