The Chaminade High basketball team warms up before home games to a medley of early rock 'n' roll hits that include such popular songs as "Rockin' Robin" and "Splish Splash."
Both tunes were appropriate Tuesday night at Chaminade, where the Eagles were rockin'-and-a -rollin', and movin'-and-a-groovin' en route to a 73-51 Santa Fe League victory over Bell-Jeff.
Chaminade Coach Mike Lynn scrapped his patterned half-court offense and uncaged his Eagles, then watched them fly past the Guards to their third win in four league games.
"I think I made a mistake earlier in the season by not playing that way. I think I was holding them back," Lynn said. "As soon as I pulled the constraints off, their natural instincts took over.
"We've got kids who like to play in the open court. It's fun, it's exciting, it's emotional."
It got emotional in the fourth quarter, when Bell-Jeff's Nick Sanderson was ejected after receiving a technical foul with 2:20 to play and Chaminade leading, 64-45. By then the Guards, who entered the game tied for first in league play with a 3-0 record, were more than frustrated.
"These guys lost the game yesterday in practice," Bell-Jeff Coach Joe Dunn said. "Their attitude was they were 3-0 and leading the league, all they had to do was walk out on the floor to win.
"But they got beat in every aspect of the game. I told them they got their rear ends kicked."
Indeed, Chaminade (8-5, 3-1 in league play) outshot Bell-Jeff (7-5, 3-1) from the field (49% to 23%) and also outrebounded the Guards (42-37).
The only area Chaminade was deficient in was ballhandling: The Eagles committed a whopping 28 turnovers to 24 for Bell-Jeff.
But it did not seem to matter. Chaminade held a 15-9 lead after one period as the Guards converted just 3 of 15 field-goal attempts. The game was stopped briefly in the first quarter after crowd favorite Alex Rigolizzo banked in a 10-footer and Eagle fans showered the court with toilet paper.
It was 35-22 at halftime, as forward John Carolan scored 10 of his 14 points in the first two periods.
The Eagles put the game away in the third period, getting six points from forward Charlie Fei and four from center Andy Connolly in outscoring Bell-Jeff in the quarter, 18-12.
Connolly finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Peter Miller led Chaminade with 17 points--11 in the fourth period--and Rigolizzo added 12.
Bell-Jeff got a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds from center Henry Polee and 13 points from guard Chris Dyer, who fouled out with 2:17 to play. "I think I did my team a disservice by holding them back," Lynn said. "The running game may cost us a win somewhere down the road, but it's the way we have to play. That's our strength."
It certainly was Tuesday.