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The young Chabot men's basketball team matches up well with everyone it faces.
Now the Gladiators just need to learn how to win the close ones. Once that happens, look out.
With play in the powerful Coast Conference-North Division beginning this week, Chabot (7-9) is coming off back-to-back losses against Folsom Lake and De Anza in which the Gladiators led at halftime.
So, Chabot is right at the doorstep, and the basketball community can hear them knocking.
"We're right there. The key for us is how we finish out the game," first-year coach Keenan McMiller says. "If we can start closing out these games, we'll win. But if we lack focus in decision-making at the end, we'll lose. It's pretty simple for us now. We know who we are."
Things are much better this season with McMiller at the helm. Last year Chabot entered conference play with a 2-13 record and then went 1-11 to finish 3-24. But this Chabot team seems to need a little fine-tuning, not an overhaul.
Chabot will open conference play with back-to-back road toughies: at Canada-Redwood City (13-3) on Wednesday and at Foothill (6-9) on Friday.
Talented true freshman Jabari Sweet led the Gladiators with 25 points and nine boards in the 78-77 defeat to De Anza on Jan. 4. But one last shot made the difference for De Anza.
"We dominated for 32 minutes," McMiller says. "… We executed enough to win; we just didn't execute enough on the defensive end on the last play."
McMiller says he takes two things from the game: "One, we're going in the right direction going in league; two, I got to address kind of the lineup that we have at the end of the game, so we can pull out those games."
Jordan McGlory (12.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg), one of the team's few sophomores, continued his solid season with 16 points in the tough loss, and Kyle Brown (10.4 ppg) added 12 points and six boards. Chabot's top scorer this season, Akili Daniels (13.0 ppg) had seven points and seven rebounds.
Against Folsom Lake, Kolby Charles, who is working to become a true point guard, paced Chabot with 20 points. Daniels is also in the mix at the point.
Worth noting: De Anza lost in overtime to Las Positas (11-3), so Chabot has the tools to beat teams in one of the state's top conferences. Ironing out the point guard spot will be key for Chabot as it marches along.
Stay tuned …