Farmingdale took a moment before Thursday night’s game against rival Uniondale to offer a tribute to senior Marvel Chambers. The 6-4 swingman scored the 1,000th point of his career six days earlier and now the home crowd showered him with applause as he stood at center court with the five other Daler standouts who have also scored 1,000 career points. One player was from the 1970s, two from the 80s, one from the 90s and one from this past decade.
It was special moment in a special season for Chambers, who wasn’t sure he’d be able to play after sustaining a second injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in March of last year and undergoing a second knee surgery in June.
“I wanted to play, but I wasn’t sure how long the rehab would take. I’m grateful to be playing again,” said Chambers, who needed a nine-month rehab after a full ACL reconstruction two years ago. “It’s my last year. I have been through a lot. I feel like I have a lot to prove.”
So far so good. Chambers is averaging nearly 19 points a game and Farmingdale has emerged as a contender for the Nassau Class AA crown. After losing Saturday’s non-conference game against Chaminade, 64-58, in the LuHi Invitational at Long Island Lutheran, the team is 8-4.
“You never know when this can all be taken away from you,” Dalers coach Jim Pastier said. “If it’s an injury or whether you think you can make it to the counties and don’t, you have to savor it. Now he is with the guys he came up with and I see a guy enjoying every minute.”
Chambers initially tore the ACL midway through his sophomore season and it cost him the rest of the year. He was averaging 19.4 points and the team was 11-2 when it happened. The Dalers went 2-5 the rest of the way and only cracked 44 points once.
And the rehab after a complete reconstruction surgery, as coach Jim Pastier said, was not so easy for a 15-year-old.
“It’s a grind to get back. You feel sorry for yourself. ‘Am I ever going to get back,’ ” he said. “It feels like the end of the world, but he had two years ahead of him and that was a good thing. In the moment you don’t see it, but it was.
A year ago, Chambers was back to play as a junior, returning in November after the nine-month rehab. He didn’t quite score at the same pace, but the Dalers thrived and finished 17-4. They lost all three of their games against Uniondale — including the county semifinal.
“This is a proud team with guys who have played together for a long time and that loss has been on their minds ever since it happened,” Pastier said. “Marvel had about [nine points] and no one really picked up the scoring. It’s on their minds.”
“We want to take revenge on last year,” Chambers said. “We want to win a championship. I know that Farmingdale is known for its football and its lacrosse, but we believe we can make a statement in basketball.”
Easier said than done. Chambers was playing in late March with a travel team and re-injured the knee. It buckled after he attempted to block a shott. He said the result was a partially torn meniscus and a partial re-tear of the ACL. He did not need a another reconstruction with a new graft. Doctors were able to do an “ACL repair’ to tighten the ligament and lessen the rehab. Chambers had the surgery in June and was able to again play in October.
“I admit it was scary, the idea I might have to go through the whole thing again,” he said. “I was glad there was [an alternative] to get me back in time for this season.”
“What Marvel has done to stay mentally strong through all of this — it’s just perseverance,” Pastier said.
Chambers’ leaping ability is back. He feels he has regained his speed and ability to cut. His explosiveness is beginning to rival what it was during his stellar-but-truncated sophomore season.
“If you were to compare me to what I was as a sophomore, I think you’d see much the same player,” Chambers said. “The biggest difference you see is my decision-making . . But a lot of that is the experience of playing more.”
Chambers got one more scare during this season. Against Oceanside, he went up on a drive and had a defender beneath him when he came down. That same left knee was at issue. He was sent for an MRI and missed a game against Freeport, but this time the results showed the knee held up.
The next game, against Hempstead, he scored his 1,000th point in a 17-point effort.
There is a hope that Chambers’ game will take him to a Division I scholarship. Pastier said the soft-spoken senior needs to develop a little more toughness and vocal leadership. To that end, he plans to enroll in a prep school next season to raise his recruiting profile and further develop.
“I would like to play Division I,” he said. “I hope my talent and all I’ve [endured] will help me on that road.”