Chambers Academy basketball teams celebrate their seniors on Thursday

Published 9:00 am Thursday, January 30, 2020

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The Chambers Academy basketball teams will compete in their final home basketball game of the season Thursday when both teams host Heritage Christian.

This will be the final time the six seniors (two on the girls’ roster and four on the boys’ roster) will don their Chambers Rebels jerseys in front of their home crowd.

For the boys, the seniors include Raphe Daniel, Caden Smoot, Braxton Allen and Jake Walters.

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“They’re a great class,” Chambers Academy boys head coach Jason Allen said. “Those are four guys that we’re really going to miss, and we’re just excited we’re going to finish their season year in a good fashion.’

Daniel is one of the best rebounders on the team, as he is constantly in double-figures rebounding the ball.

“He’s just been a warrior for us. He’s just been a horse for us,” Allen said.

Braxton Allen and Smoot each returned to the hardwood after taking the 2018-19 season off. In their final season, both are starters and make an impact on the defensive side of the ball.

Walters has come off the bench this season, providing key minutes as part of the second team.

On the girls’ side, the Rebels are led by the Keebler sisters.

“When it’s all said and done and we get this thing like we want it, you’re going to look back at Lizzy and Shelly because they are the two seniors that were part of laying the groundwork to get this program going in the direction that we want to go,” Chambers Academy girls head coach Jeff Hines said. “They’ve been really good seniors. They’ve bought into what I was trying to do from day one. They’ve done a really good job.”

Shelley and Lizzy Keebler are the only seniors on a team that has six underclassmen. They are both starters and are consistently two of the leaders on a young team.

“I think our underclassmen have taken the approach of ‘here are our two seniors. They’re going to lead us, and we’re going to follow,’” Hines said.

Both teams have a chance to clinch a bye in the first round of the AISA state tournament on Thursday night.

For the boys, the Rebels are 15-3 this season, with its last loss coming on Jan. 16 at Springwood. Seven of the 15 wins are region opponents.

“We treat non-area games like practice and we emphasize that the area games are what we’re playing for,” Allen said. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to win a lot of area games. I’m pleased with our guys. They play hard and they have a never quit attitude.”

The boys’ team welcomes in No. 10 Heritage Christian for the final region game of the year on Thursday. The first time the two teams met the Rebels defeated the Eagles by 13 points on the road for their first game of 2020.

The Eagles are an up-tempo team that likes to score quickly, so they can set up a full-court press. In almost every game they’ve played this year, this has been a formula for success. The only game that it didn’t work out was the Chambers Academy game. The Eagles were held to just 40 points in that game, which is a season-low (they average just under 70 points per game).

Like the boys, the Rebels girls team is undefeated in region play with a chance to win and automatically advance to the semifinals of the AISA state tournament.

In their seven area games, the Rebels have dominated their opponents, as they allowed just 95 points in the first five contests (37 of which were scored in one game). Defensively Hines isn’t worried about the team, but with such a young group, he wants to see more consistency on the offensive side of the ball.

“We just have to maintain how we’re defending people,” Hines said. “I think offensively is where we need to be consistent. Offensively is where we’ve struggled, either turning the ball over or not shooting well. That’s where we need to get more consistent as we make a push to make a deep run in the playoffs.”

The last time the Chambers Academy girls team faced Heritage Christian, the Rebels dominated the Eagles winning 45-14.

“I’m still looking for consistency,” Hines said. “I’m still looking for us to play to our standard. We’re not going to change. These girls play hard for 32 minutes, and that’s something that we hang our hat on. Tomorrow night isn’t going to be any different.”

The girls’ game will start at 6 p.m. EST followed by the boys. There will not be a junior varsity boys’ game before the girls start.