It has been a roller coaster of a season for Chaminade’s basketball team thus far, having finished 3-3 through the first round of league play. No team better reflects the grueling schedule that the Mission League features than the Eagles, who boast a signature win over Crespi on the road, as well as a 25-point loss to a very athletic Alemany team that fed off of the energy of its home crowd this past Friday. To put it briefly, Alemany looked fresh and Chaminade looked worn down. After heading to Northern California to take on power De La Salle on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and downing a feisty Notre Dame team on Wednesday, the Eagles looked physically and emotionally tired.
Especially hurting Chaminade was Michael Oguine’s hamstring injury from its game against Harvard-Westlake on Jan. 16. Thanks to the injury and some stifling Alemany defense, Oguine looked uncomfortable, managing just 12 points on three-of-nine shooting. Couple that with an injured Joel Loth who was unable to play through a sprained ankle and Bar Milo getting into some early foul trouble, and all of a sudden, the Eagles had difficulty protecting the paint all night long. Unfortunately for them, the Warriors pounced on the porous interior defense as they penetrated time and again, kicking to open shooter after open shooter or dishing it to Daron Henson for easy finishes.
Alemany went on an extended run towards the end of the first half, punctuated by a ferocious dunk by sophomore Earnie Sears. The Warriors went on to rout the Eagles, who will need to dig deep if they want to make a run for the Mission League title that has eluded them in recent years.
Nonetheless, Chaminade has been helped greatly by the immense improvement of Jordan Ogundarian, who has proved himself as a big-time player. If big-time players really do make big-time plays, then Ogundarian certainly fits the bill.
At Crespi, he torched the Celts for a career-high 31 points en route to a 65-64 win. Though he was forced to take a backseat role of sorts in his junior year, (he often deferred to his counterpart at guard in Michael Oguine, center Trevor Stanback, who has since transferred to Pasadena Maranatha, as well as standout Jack Williams who now plays his basketball just a short drive down the road at Long Beach State), he is a very capable player in his own right.
Now, as the second scoring option for Chaminade, it’s clear that Ogundarian has come into his own. His experience as the offense’s catalyst last season has certainly helped him as he is not only a prolific scorer, but also a very capable and willing passer, averaging 4.7 assists per game. He breaks down defenses the way that Joey Chestnut breaks down a hotdog. He has been wreaking havoc on the Mission League about as coolly and efficiently as one can, all the while prioritizing winning above all else.
With Ogundarian’s penetration and stellar shooting to keep the defense honest, he has been able to set up Aidan Dolan and Nick Henzgen in their sweet spots time and again. More than anything, Ogundarian is a great leader who has boosted the play of his teammates and kept the Eagles relevant in the Mission League despite a lack of the size that was so crucial in their deep playoff run just a season ago.
Luckily for Chaminade, it has seen all of its opponents across the league at least once (the Eagles faced off against Crespi at Bishop Alemany’s tournament in late December) which will work to Coach Todd Wolfson’s advantage. Wolfson and assistant Cornelius Holden are two of the best coaches in California and they know how to prepare their squad for what will be a gritty Loyola team awaiting them tomorrow.
In order to beat Loyola, Loth and Jake Porath must help Milo protect the paint. While the Chaminade zone proved effective in the teams’ first matchup, the Eagles necessarily have to shut down Stone Gettings and Henry Welsh alike in order to get a key win on the road. If Chaminade can do that and hit its threes, an upset could be on the horizon. Otherwise, Loyola could potentially dominate. Regardless, look for a great game on Wednesday, as is always the case when these two rivals meet.