Chaminade poses after winning the CHSAA state Class A boys...

Chaminade poses after winning the CHSAA state Class A boys basketball championship at Hofstra on March 9. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

It didn’t look good for Chaminade — eight points down, four minutes left.

The Flyers’ hopes for the CHSAA state Class A crown were slipping away, and against the Buffalo-based team that knocked them out in the state semifinals the previous year no less, Bishop Timon-St. Jude.

But this basketball team refused to give in. Chaminade rallied to force overtime, then fell behind by five, then forced double overtime. And then it ended at Hofstra.

Chaminade 88, Bishop Timon-St. Jude 84.

State champion.

“It meant everything,” senior forward/guard Devin Dillon said.  “ . . . That game, it felt like we were going to lose a few times. So the fact that we pulled it off, I wasn’t shocked that we won it, but it was more like, ‘Damn, we just won the state chip.’ ”

The Flyers won it for the first time since 2003 after repeating as the NSCHSAA tournament champs for the first time since 1994.

“We won the last game,” coach Dan Feeney said. “That’s what we talk about all the time is to figure out a way to win the last one . . . Beating the team that beat us last year up in Buffalo made it a little extra sweet for us.”

This 2023-24 championship journey featured a few defining character traits — resilience, poise and unselfishness.

The first one was pretty obvious off the finale.

“I wasn’t surprised by the resiliency of the kids on the court,” Feeney said. “We did that most of the season. We had games that we were down.”

Feeney said they practice these situations.

“They’re well prepared for that,” he said. “That’s why they’re able to kind of stay as calm as they are out there and they can execute.”

The unselfishness helped, too.

Dillon said that “everyone just gave in to their role. No one really cared about their scoring stats. Everyone just wanted to win.”

They won 20 times in 27 tries. And there was so much balance in their scoring stats.

Five players averaged anywhere from 13.6 to 10.8 points, with Dillon at the high end. His brother, Kyle, a sophomore guard, was right behind him at 13.4 points, and he hit 46 threes. Senior guard Kam Elliott sank 70 threes and averaged 13.1 points. Junior guard Ricky Gunther was next at 12.9. And senior forward Joe Knaus nailed 88 shots from beyond the arc en route to his 10.8 average. He went off for seven threes and 25 points in the state final.

“We had a bunch of different kids that could go get 20 points a game,” the elder Dillon brother said. “It opened up each game. If one of us was struggling, another one could step up. It just made us so much harder to guard.”

After claiming the NSCHSAA’s regular-season title, Chaminade ultimately beat St. John the Baptist, 66-49, for the league’s tournament title. The Flyers owned a 30-15 advantage in the second quarter after a 20-6 run.

“That’s what they can do,” Cougars coach Jake Ellis said afterward. “They can score.”

Now Devin Dillon, Elliott, Knaus, senior guard Jack Connolly and senior forward John Stanko will be moving on.

So can the Flyers pull off a three-peat in the league tournament and a repeat in the state tournament?

“Yeah, they can do it again,” Devin Dillon said. “New guys are going to have to step up, but we’ve got pieces.”


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