Clayton Garrison and his Chadwick teammates are enjoying the Cardinals’ dribble-drive offense as much as opponents don’t like defending it.
With Chadwick’s guards taking turns dribbling back and forth from one wing to the other, the Cardinals set themselves up for open looks Tuesday in a 39-31 triumph over Sparta.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at it,” Garrison said. “We run it every day in practice and are getting better at it. It makes the defense tired when they’re running back and forth with us. Eventually, we can dribble it right down the lane for a wide-open layup.”
It’s the same offense coach Shawn Guerin ran during his playing days at Chadwick in the late 1990s. Guerin notes that as deliberate as the offense can be, it will lead to the Cardinals getting the chance to create.
“They have freedom in this offense,” Guerin said. “They’re going to have the opportunity to take somebody one-on-one. I tell them all the time, you’re free to play basketball.”
“I like when we get the (isolations) and take our man one-on-one,” Garrison said.
Garrison and fellow freshman Tristan Smith have acclimated themselves well to the dribble-drive. They also responded well to an overflow and fired-up crowd Tuesday. Garrison scored 10 points and Smith had nine.
“It made me nervous because there was a whole lot of people to play in front of tonight,” Smith said. “This is a lot more intense than what I had to deal with in eighth grade last year. It’s nerve-wracking. I feel like if I mess up, instead of a senior guard messing up, it’s more of a big deal.”
After being scoreless in Chadwick’s 37-27 loss to Sparta at the Strafford Tournament this past weekend, Smith hit a trio of 3-point goals.
“After I hit my first shot, that was a confidence booster,” Smith said. “That led to my other two baskets. The other game, I just wasn’t feeling it. This game, I guess I did. I’m happy I hit some shots.”
Guerin was particularly proud of a read Smith made that led to an open 3-pointer in the second half.
“He slid off, instead of going for the hand-off, and flared out and hit a three,” Guerin said. “We work on that in practice all the time. I was so glad to see him use that. He’s a freshman, but we trust him. He’s one of our best 3-point shooters. We tell him he has the green light.”
Garrison was hindered by foul trouble in the first half, but held his own against Sparta center Jacob Lafferty. Garrison and Lafferty both scored 10 points.
“I didn’t want to come into this game and lose this one to them, too,” Garrison said. “Tonight, we rebounded better, our defense was better and we shot the ball better.”
The Cardinals welcomed back center Clayton Rains. He missed Chadwick’s first four games, as he worked toward getting in MSHSAA’s mandated 14 practices prior to playing.
“Clayton didn’t know if he wanted to play, after playing with his older brother (Calvin) last year,” Guerin said. “He decided to come back. Having Clayton tonight helped us a lot with their big guy.”
SPARTA (31) — W. Loveland 2 0-1 4, Roller 1 0-0 2, Brown 3 2-4 10, Letterman 1 0-1 2, Lafferty 5 0-0 10, D. Loveland 1 1-2 3.
CHADWICK (39) — Guerin 1 0-2 3, Gardner 2 2-2 8, Smith 3 0-0 9, Preston 0 2-2 2, Garrison 4 0-0 10, Rains 2 1-2 7.
Sparta 9 4 6 12 - 31
Chadwick 11 6 14 8 - 39
3-point goals - Smith 3, Garrison 2, Rains 2, Brown 2, Guerin.