“It was tough because you see these teams that I believe we’re better than, and they’re playing these big tournaments,” Chenery said. “You just think, ‘Come on, we should be in that, too.’ ”
On Saturday afternoon at the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference/Interstate Athletic Conference Challenge in Potomac, the No. 14 Maroon returned to action and showed little rust in a 68-54 win over No. 11 Sidwell Friends.
“When I look back on this in February and March, it’s very good because it gives us rest. So it turns out to be a positive thing for us,” Fitzpatrick said. “But this first weekend back is tricky. And I’m always interested to see how the kids respond.”
The Maroon (6-1) practiced Thursday and Friday before playing the fourth game of Saturday’s day-long event. From the opening tip, they showed no apprehension in the face of a stout Sidwell Friends defense. Chenery opened the game with a two-handed dunk, and the team got into a rhythm from there.
“We worked hard in those practices and in the game because we’re making up for lost time,” junior guard Darius Johnson said.
Sidwell Friends (12-2) entered having yet to allow more than 50 points in a game. Led by Johnson (21) and Chenery (20), the Maroon had 53 by the end of the third quarter.
“It’s a chemistry thing,” Chenery said. “A lot of us are in the same dorm; we all hang out and talk. That makes it easier for us to talk on the court.”
The ease of their offense is surprising considering what the Maroon lost to graduation. Xavier Johnson, Darius’s older brother, was the playmaking focal point at Episcopal’s approach last season. With Xavier now getting minutes at George Mason, Darius and others have had to step into larger roles.
“Each player incrementally has had to make a jump because you lose such a great player in Xavier,” Fitzpatrick said. “But I think they have done that or are doing that.”