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Chaminade opens season in Chicago Elite Classic; ranked No. 1 in first Class 5 poll

By: Warren Mayes

It will be rise and shine for the Chaminade Red Devils in their high school basketball season opener.

The Red Devils begin play in the 2018-19 season Saturday (Dec. 1) in the Chicago Elite Classic at Bloomington High School. Chaminade will play Bloomington at 10:30 a.m.

Coach Frank Bennett said the early tip-off will not be a problem for his squad.

“Our pregame routine stays the same,” said Bennett, who is entering his sixth year as the Chaminade head coach.

The Classic is a good showcase for high school basketball, Bennett said. He is happy to have his team be chosen to participate in it.

“We are fortunate to have been asked to play in their event,” Bennett said. “It is a top-notch event that is centered around making basketball a great event for the players, coaches, schools, and communities.”

Chaminade will carry the No. 1 ranking in Class 5 into the game.

The Missouri Basketball Coaches Association basketball poll that is selected by a panel of coaches representing each of the eight MBCA districts around the state and each of the five Missouri basketball classes has released its first poll of the season.

While Bennett doesn’t mind the ranking, he noted it is early.

“It is a nice recognition,” Bennett said. “However, we still need to work every day to be the best we can be. I don’t think it means much at all since we haven’t played a game, yet. Our focus is to become better each day so at the end of the season we can be positioned to be successful in the post season.

“I think the ranking recognizes our potential, however, we still need to work because there are plenty of teams around the state who have talent and are working to get better.”

Bennett said his Red Devils were likely unaware of the ranking.

“I don’t know if the boys know about it. We don’t talk about it,” Bennett said.

There will no added pressure on the team, Bennett said.

“No pressure. The pressure is built within each day to become the best team we can be,” Bennett said.

The 2017-18 was a good team. Chaminade is coming off a 25-5 season. The Red Devils finished 7-1 to win Metro Catholic Conference. Chaminade won the District 3 tournament with a 90-54 win over Ladue and advanced to the Final Four. The Red Devils wound up second in Class 5, losing 101-90 to Webster Groves.

Several veterans from that Red Devils squad are back. Senior point guard Keyyaun Batchman, junior forward Luke Kasubke, junior guard Harrison Vickers return for Bennett. (6-4).

Batchman and Keelen Handy are the team captains.

The 6-foot-2 Batchman averaged 13.7 points a game last season. He canned 74 percent of his free throws.

Bennett said he likes what he has seen from Batchman in practice.

“Keyyaun Batchman is performing at a high level,” Bennett said.

The practices have been spirited so far as the team has been preparing to play.

Bennett calls his team “hardworking and selfless” in their workouts to get ready for the season.

“Practices have been going well,” Bennett said. “Our guys are working hard to become the best they can be.

Now it’s time for the team to play a game against other competition besides each other in practice.

“We are ready,” Bennett said. “This is the first step. We have to continue to work.”

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