As each member of the Chantilly boys basketball team took his turn on the ladder last Friday, each struggled with the exact same thing. In a motion generally required to carve a 12-ounce sirloin at Ponderosa, players used a pair of much-too-dull scissors to try to cut off their own pieces of the nylon net.
All eventually succeeded but for none did the task come easy. Because as it turned out, the balky pair of scissors was about the only problem Chantilly encountered on this night.
The Chargers raced out to an early lead against Westfield in the Concorde District title game and never looked back, earning the school’s first district title since 1999 with a 67-46 dismantling of the Bulldogs at Robinson Secondary School.
“It feels great, bringing [the district title] back to Chantilly,” said sophomore center John Manning, who totaled 13 points against Westfield. “We just kept talking about getting the banner up in our gym. It’s been a long time.”
Chantilly’s fast start culminated in a 15-6 advantage -- courtesy of a Manning putback -- that forced a Westfield timeout. And from that point, Chantilly didn’t permit its rival to creep within more than 10.
<b>ONE OF THE</b> primary reasons for Chantilly’s early dominance was sophomore Devin Ballam, who took advantage when Westfield gravitated toward Manning and senior guard Justin May, leaving the 5-foot-10 guard with several open looks. Ballam drilled three 3-pointers during the opening 3:26 and finished with 11 points in the quarter.
“It was a pretty fast start,” Ballam said. “We came out and pushed the ball. My man was doubling down on John [Manning] most of the time, so I was wide open the whole first quarter until they switched matchups.”
Ballam’s early contributions preceded a similar showing from teammate Adam Fridy, who was named the Concorde District tournament’s Most Valuable Player and scored 11 points in the first two minutes during Chantilly’s 82-61 district semifinal win over Centreville.
Though he was held scoreless in the first quarter against Westfield, Fridy erupted for eight points in the second quarter, including back-to-back layups that gave Chantilly a 25-11 lead with 7:01 left in the half.
“We had so much adrenaline,” said Fridy, who finished with a team-high 19 points against Westfield. “We knew how to win, and we just went out there and executed.”
<b>CHANTILLY’S SUCCESS</b> carried over into Monday night’s game, which resulted in a 62-47 win over Yorktown in the first round of the Northern Region tournament. The Chargers (23-1) advanced to play Hayfield on Wednesday night, which ended after this edition went to press.
Against the Patriots, Chantilly displayed another strong start and led 15-8 after the first quarter. They later pulled away with a 20-point third period, and Manning led the team with a game-high 14 points. May added 13 points and Fridy had 10.
“At the beginning of the year, the first nine or 10 games, we were really a great first-quarter team,” said Smith, who’s in his 18th year on the Chargers’ bench. “For a while we were having terrible first quarters, and the last couple of weeks we’ve just come out and shot the ball well early and got off to good starts.”